July 20th, 2009

The Black

Nothing For Free

Today I went to the bank to get some details about my checking account ironed out. The bank I go to changed overnight from a bank with one name to a bank with another. I asked an employee about it a week ago and she said that the whole color scheme of the bank changed over the weekend – she left work on Friday working for Red Bank, and she came back on Monday working Green Bank. The whole thing had been pulled off in two days. All that remained of the red color scheme was the red cushions I was sitting on waiting for customer service.

The woman who called me for service was large, not just from side to side but also tall, with a heavy, slow, shifting gait. She wore small strappy sandals and a gold broach on her chest that was shaped like an antique phone. Did she like antique phones or is the broach representative of something else? I didn’t ask.

I proceeded with my banking business, part of which required that I give her photo ID. Now, my photo ID is actually in two parts right now since I recently married and changed my name. Currently, I carry two cards, a plastic card and a little yellow paper addendum from the state that says, basically: "Hey, this lady has changed her name, but this is still her". I feel a little bad about handing bureaucrats this card because, being a paper pusher myself, I know that handling these types of documents can be difficult – some places don’t accept them and it may add an extra layer of forms to an already form heavy job.

“I’m sorry,” I say, handing the ID over “I paid 16 dollars to get a new card, and I really thought they were going to send me a photo ID, but all they sent me was this.”

She takes the cards, her lacquered fingernails clicking against the wood desk. I am always fascinated by long, plastic nails, as I cannot imagine how I would type with them. She shakes her head at me. “You thought you would get a new card for free? Oh, girl, you have GOT to be joking.” She says, not laughing, but smiling.

At this point, I think that she misunderstood what I said, so I say it again. “No, I thought that I would get a new photo card for the 16 dollars I paid.”

She shakes her head, gold earrings swinging. “You thought, just like that,” and she snapped her fingers “something for free. Well, nothing in this world is free.”

“No, I know, I didn’t think for free I’d get. . .”

“You are such a kidder! Phew! Well, I guess you learned, hm?”

I think to myself. “I paid 16 dollars! I did not expect anything for free!” but at this point, it’s too late, and she has already made up her mind. I nod instead. “Yes, yes I guess I learned. Nothing for free.” Minutes later, she hands me my new, free, debit card.