Toad in the Hole

March 20, 2005

Homebank Screwcurity

So the last three times Joe has tried to deposit our piddly free-lance writer paychecks (and my slightly-less-piddly editor's paycheck) in the bank, he's had a problem. They didn't want to accept checks made out to Ron Sullivan and Joe Eaton for accounts in the names of Veronica Sullivan and Martin Joseph Eaton.

This is new. We've banked with that same branch of Union Bank for, oh, 15 years or so at least, and handed over such checks regularly for that long, without any quibbles. They know us, theoretically; they've presumed to offer us financial advice; they call and offer gilt-edged banking services now and then, etc. And we've established that we are the people to whom the checks are made out, and why they come to those names -- the names we publish under.

First a young female clerk gave Joe a hard time. Then Joe dragged me in to partake of the pleasure, and the late-30s? white male clerk -- or demi-manager -- gave us both a hard time. He said the policy had been in place since October of 2003, which is odd, as we've been depositing these checks in person at least monthly since way before then and three visits ago was the first we'd heard that something might be off. He said we'd got notice of it along with our regular statement... oh, sometime around mid-2003.

Maybe. We actually do read the crap that comes with statements most of the time. This didn't ring a bell.

He said it was a Federal requirement, part of the Homeland Security regulations, that a bank had to know who was depositing money in every account. That we'd each have to get a legal declaration of alias drawn up.

Yeah right. I'm going to pay to have the bank accept my earnings, as they have for years and GODDAMN WELL KNOW WHO I AM.

So instead we asked our various venues to please make out paychecks to our formal names, which they have agreed to do. I think. But one more check came from the Berkeley Daily Planet, made out to "Ron."

Joe went in to deposit it without paying much attention, and encountered the same male demi-manager. DM gave him the same hard time. He did not, however, give Joe a hard time about another check in the pile, made out to "Joe." Joe asked about that little detail.

"Well," said the DM, "I can see where you get 'Joe' from 'Joseph' but I can't see how 'Veronica' is 'Ron'."

Somehow I don't see his problem. When I introduce myself, I sometimes get asked, "Rhonda?" I explain -- it's a tagline by now -- that it's a heavily pruned Veronica. Gardeners generally get it. This dude has been looking at my name for months now, apparently, and has met me in person, where I've explained who I am and where he can find my byline -- the same publications that send the checks, duh. Bur somehow he doesn't see the second syllable of my baptismal name. (I note that "Joe" appears nowhere in "Joseph.")

A very odd kind of dyslexia, I think -- and one more way for tin-eared martinets to jerk people around, in the name of national security no less. He seems to be inventing rationales as fast as he's asked about reasons. Quite a little dance, especially the most recent step. No one gets more power in this atmosphere of crapola than petty tyrants passing out bullshit, to mash a metaphor.

We're thinking, if we're going to be so damned patriotic, maybe we need to move our modest assets to an American-owned bank, PDQ. I'm only sorry I entrusted my 401k to these clods.

Posted at March 20, 2005 10:14 PM

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