“thank you mama web warrior”

Well thanks are not quite in order yet but boy oh boy I sure have spent a lot of my time dealing with customer service personnel this summer! I’ve experienced the good, the bad and the ugly. I successfully resolved two fraudulent credit card transaction issues. Then I lost my debit card and had to cancel it and get a replacement. Those two companies fall into the “good” category. Thank you, National City and Chase. Two more issues are pending. One is *probably* resolved to my satisfaction but I won’t know for another couple days. The other is still a battle but one I am starting to have a little fun with. Honestly, some people are so incompetent you almost have to laugh, as angry as you are at them.

I want to blahg about the last two but I can’t do it yet. But it reminded me of an old story. A few years ago, I took over yet another Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) treasury. Or tried to. PTOs are rather notorious for being disorganized and their treasuries are often in a mess. This is not (usually) due to fraud. It’s just that being on the board of a PTO is a volunteer job and often a thankless one. Many people who take it on lack the time and/or expertise to handle the job they are assigned to. You don’t exactly have to turn in a resume or go through a background check to be considered for the job. It’s more a matter of, “do you breathe?” (At least, last I looked.) It happens that I *like* to sort out messy bank records. I don’t know why and that would be a whole ‘nother blahg entry anyway. But whenever a treasury was up for grabs, I had my hand up in the air and I would work hard to get it in order.

So, when the kids’ high school PTO treasury came up for grabs, there I was with my hand up. This one wasn’t as bad as some of the others I’ve taken over. It was a relatively quiet treasury and because the gross revenue never reached the threshold upon which the IRS might notice it, I had no tax reports to worry about, etc. It should have been easy. Except that the previous treasurer, whose last child had graduated, didn’t seem to want to give up the account. I couldn’t write checks until she signed over the account and, to me, it seemed like she did everything in her power to prevent that from happening.

I worked with the president to try to get the previous treasurer to sign over the bank account. She was always too busy. Even though her office was directly across the street from the bank. The one time all three of us managed to meet there, it was Friday afternoon and there was a long line and the former treasurer panicked and ran out on us. Okay…

That’s all not to mention that I had experience with this bank from a previous treasury. My first thought was something like, “Oh no, not *that* bank.” One time I had walked in there with a deposit from a middle school “fun night.” I had a lot of cash and maybe $7 or so in coins. The teller looked at my neatly packaged coins, in little envelopes with the denomination and total amount written on the envelope and said, “we don’t take coins.” Say what? Fortunately, a manager, one who knew me, walked by her right at that moment and rectified the situation. I’m sure that what they *didn’t* want to take was big bags of uncounted pennies, etc. And I don’t blame them. But, sheesh! And then there was the time I had my (then) young kids in there with me and a man who smelled strongly of airplane glue was arguing loudly with a teller. But that wasn’t the bank’s fault. (I don’t think.)

Anyway. Finally, the previous treasurer signed off on the paperwork and took it to the bank and the PTO president emailed me to say that it was there and I could just go over and complete the transfer. So, off I went. I walked in and looked around. I couldn’t see anyone but tellers. I didn’t think they’d have the paperwork but I walked up to the window anyway. The teller pointed to the right and said, “Oh, you need to go over there and wait for someone to talk to you.” Okay. I went “over there” and sat down. I waited for ten minutes. There were cubicles “over there” and although the people in them didn’t look busy, they made every effort to totally, completely, utterly ignore me. Hey, do I smell like airplane glue or what? I walked back to the teller. She gave me one of those looks like she thought I smelled like airplane glue was crazy and said, “I *told* you to go wait over there.” I replied that I *had* waited “over there” for ten minutes and no one came out to talk to me and I wasn’t going to go wait “over there” again. Okay. This time she sent me over to the *other side* to some young preppie type punk.

“Oh great,” I thought. I stated my business and this guy totally gave me the bum’s rush. “I don’t have those papers. I don’t know where they are.” I was fit to be tied. And I resolved to not leave without access to the bank account. Five minutes into the conversation, a co-worker came back from her break or whatever and he asked her about it. “Oh, they’re right here on my desk,” said she. Relief! I was thinking we were getting somewhere but then, when my preppie punk looked up the records in his computer, he found that there was *another* person who was authorized to sign checks. Someone I had vaguely heard of whose children were long graduated. He started stonewalling me again. “We *have* to get this person to sign off.” I was getting the bum’s rush *again*. I could tell by his tone of voice, his body language and his eyes. I did *not* know where this person was or how to get hold of her and I figured that if I did get hold of her she’d be wondering (like I was) about the sanity of the bank people. I finally said, “I’m sorry, but I’m going to sit here until I walk out of here with access to that account.” He finally said, “well, I’ll call my supervisor.” “Fine,” I replied. He got on the phone. I am pretty sure there wasn’t a real person on the other end but when he got off, he looked at me conspiratorially and said, “you know what, I am just going to give you access to this account.” I replied, “That’s a good idea.”

Phew! I HATE doing stuff like that. I have a hard time staying calm when dealing with incompetent, inflexible bureaucrats and their ridiculous company policies. To this day, I don’t know how I managed to get out of there without SCREAMING at someone. When I got home, I emailed the PTO president, a highly respected member of the community and a hero of mine, to tell her that I *finally* had access to the account and the ordeal I endured to get it. I almost fell off my chair laughing when she replied, “If I had been in your place, I think I would have taken my gun out of my purse and started shooting.”

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