I don't normally plan my mornings the night before, but last night my wife and I planned a trip to the bank. Right now we only have one car. It was the one car we had when it was just the two of us. Now that I am required to be at my office one car, between the two of us, is becoming inviable. So we were going to go to the bank and apply for a small car loan for an SUV we have picked out. It sounded like it would be fun, but what actually transpired was, as you'll see, very different than what would normally be considered fun.
We didn't make it a mile and a half out of our drive way when I could feel a problem with our car tires. I immediately took my wife and son home and headed to a tire place to get the potentially dangerous problem taken care of. My wife looked up the best deal in town, for new tires, and I headed to place called Tire Depot. Weirdly enough Tire Depot is located at the same lot that used to be one of my car dealer clients back when I was doing NorCalCars.com (my first business). I drove to the outfit.
I chose the tires I wanted from the salesman and took a seat in the cramped waiting area which was maybe thirty square feet. There was this old timer sitting alone in one of the four seats. Two were normal and two were green lawn chairs. I remember saying, "Oh cool, lawn chairs" and the old man seemed to agree with me that they were comically innovative. He had overhauls on, a floppy hat and a shockingly large piece of chew in his mouth. It looked like he put a whole pack of gum in there. His voice was grainy and the chew would render whole phrases inaudible.
I got out my trusty Droid Intercept and put on a Texas Hold'em game. It's extremely fun because it's with real people and they allow chat. I love to win people's play chips from them and trash talk it up. Although, I didn't want to ignore the old guy so every time he spoke I would make a struggling effort to ascertain what in god’s name he had attempted to put together. He told me, I think, about his grand kids coming over and instead of speaking to him he explained that they would rather be on "their new phones." I consoled with him and condemned his grandson's insolence. There was a nice silver Audi being worked on in the shop part and I asked if it was his; looking back it was a terrible choice of idle chit chat. He told me it wasn't and pointed to the parking lot at a heavily faded sky blue Chevy Astro Van. I remember thinking that made more sense. I decided that I would not stereotype for the rest of the day.
The poker game really helped the half and hour wait go by quickly. I got insanely lucky with my hands and won a ton of play chips. I bought in for 20,000 and I cashed out for 261,000. I hit hand after hand after hand. People kept coming to the table and getting cleaned out by me and having someone else take their place. I had such a reign of terror that it had actually lightened my spirits and I was ready to take this life speed bump in stride.
It turned out that the car actually needed more tires than previously anticipated. The added cost was above what we had in the bank so our debit card was declined. I had a sizeable check from my biggest client in my wallet that I was planning on depositing that day. My tire was so damaged that I couldn't risk traveling to the bank otherwise I would have made the deposit first. So there I was with a car that I couldn't drive because it had unpaid tires on it; my only car. This had suddenly become a real pickle and I was kicking myself because it seemed a situation like this could, and probably should, have been avoided. Regardless, I felt an instinctual urge to roll up my sleeves because it seemed like things were about to get rough.
I asked the cashier if there was anything I could leave as collateral instead of my license. I told him I could go cash my check and come right back. He was not as agreeable as the old timer. I asked him if I could leave my business debit card and he told me that I could just cancel it. "I'm not a criminal" didn't work either, so I told him that I was going to walk to my bank, get the money and come back to pay. He was fine with that; of course.
The check I had, from this particular client, is a real challenge to cash. I have had several checks from this client before and my bank just refuses to cash it unless the funds are verified from my client's bank down the street. I knew that this would happen so I walked, uphill, downtown and in 95 degree whether, to my client's bank. It took about a half an hour and I jogged a small portion of it.
I had been there twice before because my bank sent me there to convert the same client's previous checks to a “verified” cashier’s check. The last two times I had done this I was able to exchange my client's check for the cashier’s, but this time I was told that it was not allowed. The bank teller told me that only people who have accounts with my client's bank are allowed cashier’s checks. I was puzzled by this, but told her that cash would do. She then told me they didn't have enough cash to cover the amount. "You guys are a bank, right?." I told her. She gave me her business card and told me to go back to my bank and have them call her specifically and she would verify the funds over the phone. She then asked if I wanted to circumvent all of it by opening an account at my client’s bank. I told her that I thought it was paranoid of them to not allow me a cashier’s check exchange and, frankly, I had no intention of ever becoming a customer there. I assured her it was nothing personal and she bid me good day.
At this point I was getting a little mad. Luckily my bank was only a few blocks away, but it still took ten minutes to get there due to many street light cross walks. I actually think it's kind of funny waiting at street crossings with other people who try to not talk to you. After I got to m y bank I waited in line in there for about 10 minutes and I approached the bank teller. I was dreading having to explain that I would need at least some sort of second level clearance person to call my client's bank with the business card woman's phone number. Just so many words blah blah blah blah! I got it out and she went in the back and made the call and verified the funds. Success!
In a good attempt at politeness I asked the teller if I could possibly not have to jump through these loops every time I wanted to deposit a check from my biggest client. I told her that this was the fourth check that I had deposited, and the fourth time I have had to play bank pin ball, and that my client is just with a bank across the street. She told me that there is no way for them to accommodate my request and started explaining why. I kind of lost my cool at this point and cut her off asking her to withhold explanation because it wasn't needed. It's either I am required to follow these rules or I am not. I apologized for asking to be treated like a human being rather than a database record. I then ranted on about how we're in this mess because of dehumanization and cut myself short because I was starting to feel foolish.
I got the cash out that was needed for the tires and made the arduous trip back to the car to pay the Tire Depot guy. I guess I could have called someone with a car that had paid for tires on it to come help, but I didn’t. Live n' learn.