Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Credit Crunch Holiday (3)

As you can see from the little pome (last post) it was righteously raining this morning. The sky looked like it was billowing out smoke and ash from the foundries of Hell. But emboldened--or becalmed--by a 30 minute meditation I decided to go to Leicester anyway. Got into Wellingborough, went to an ATM for the train fare and a message came up: "Your card issuer has not authorised this withdrawal."

Oh shit. This has happened before, so I had a good idea what it might be: in the name of security, the banks monitor your ATM withdrawals and then freeze your account if anything looks irregular. Which you'd think was a good thing, except every time it's happened to me I've been in another town with no cash on me and no way of getting home except either walking--which isn't advisable when the heavens are tipping down on your head--or borrowing money from someone, if you can find anybody you know at the arbitrary times and in the unpredictable places this account freeze tends to happen.

It can be sorted--your account reopened--with a call to your bank. But to prove you are yourself (!), you have to go through a lot of security steps you've registered with them at an earlier date, answer questions about dates, times, letters, numbers, "all that malarkey" as Steve Wright used to say from under his moustache back in the Eighties. But I can never remember my security details; and I'm certainly not going to carry them around with me in the same wallet where I carry my card.

Anyway, luckily today I had a couple of quid in change in my pocket so I could afford to go home, find my security details--though I had to turn the Lookout upside down, almost literally, to locate them--and call the bank. They kept me on the phone for about twenty minutes, put me on hold twice, passed me to three separate departments, and finally told me that they weren't sure why I couldn't withdraw the money. They certainly hadn't put any freeze on the account, not this time. The only thing they could think it might be was that the specific ATM I used couldn't read the chip on my card; they advised me to try another machine and then call them back if they were wrong.

And you know what, gentle reader? As I was in the middle of writing this account of a really vexatious morning I remembered I hadn't been to another ATM yet. You see, I found some money lying around in the house and came out--to Northampton this time, which is kind of my default town these days--to loaf about a bit and get some lunch, and somehow the business with my card completely slipped my mind.

It was probably the conversation I had with my friend Sadie before I came out again. She made me feel really calm, as she always does. Puts the trials of the ordinary world just far enough away, with her esoteric and spiritual conversation topics, for them to be manageable. But once I've finished here I'd better go and see if the ATM across the road will cough up. I don't want to be relying on the loose change by my bed for food for the next couple of days, or however long it takes to persuade Worst Direct to get its act together and stop making my life such a contest.

No comments: