It was one of those warm, pleasant nights in Johns Creek this week and I was puffing on a very nice Avo Uvezian out on the deck. Charlie was grumbling a bit more than usual despite his favorite pacifier – a large Milkbone dog treat. I knew what he was irritated about. His visit to the vet for a check-up this week was of the unfavorable “probing” nature.
“Felt like a victim of an alien abduction,” he snarled.
“I know,” I responded.
“How, Dude,” he asked indignantly. “How could you possibly know?”
“I had to visit the bank this week,” I replied. “They needed to ‘update’ my info.”
“Didn’t see the fun in that visit, did ya’?”
“Didn’t see the need for the visit – or the questions,” I answered.
I had gone in when someone had, apparently, stolen my business account debit card number and was trying to use it – in Greece. The bank called to see if I was actually in Greece. When I told them that I wasn’t, they put a hold on the account and started to reissue the card. That’s when they discovered that they didn’t have quite enough information on me.
“Now, I’ve been banking with the same bank in Johns Creek,” I told Charlie, “since it was just an ATM and Johns Creek was an unincorporated part of Fulton County that got little notice in Atlanta.”
Still, I had to go into the bank and sit down with my personal banker – whom I had never met because they change them like socks. That’s where she began the probing.
“Now,” she asked with a pasted-on smile, “what kind of business do you own?”
“Are you kidding me?”
“No, Mr. Wyles,” she replied with a genuinely shocked looked at my attitude, “we have to know.”
“Well, it’s required by the Patriot Act.”
“Okay,” I answered, “I don’t own ‘Terrorists, Inc.’ and I’m not a supplier of IEDs, chemical weapons or even hookahs – though I do like Cuban cigars.”
“Now, Mr. Wyles, you’re not being serious are you,” she asked in a most condescending way through her fake smile.
“You get the big bucks for that kind of insight, do ya’?”
“Please, Mr. Wyles, just tell me what you do” she replied in a manner that was almost desperate. “We need to fill in a main category, and two subcategories.”
“Drill, baby, drill!”
“Mr. Wyles, I understand that you don’t like this but it has to be done.”
“That’s exactly what my doctor said during my last physical.”
“Just tell me what you do,” she sighed.
“You mean aside from wasting my time in banks that overcharge me after I – along with the rest of the country – bailed you out a few years ago? Fair enough; I’m a writer, a private investigator and a TV producer.”
“Wow,” she replied with the first glimmer of sincerity that I had seen since I sat down across from her desk, “that’s very interesting.”
There,” I smiled back, “that should make your computer entries happy.”
As she stacked my "new" paperwork and placed it in a nice, neat folder she then announced, “Oh, by the way, effective this week, the bank will start charging $5 per month for your personal account – though your business account will remain free as it always has.”
“For now,” I added.
“Well, we do have overhead, Mr. Wyles.”
“And you do make millions in late fees, returned check fees and the use of the bank’s cash assets – better known as our money – for tax lien purchases on properties that owe the county back taxes,” I pointed out. “But my $5 should finally make ends meet for the bank each month. So, I’m glad to help.”
“It ain’t right, is it, Dude?” Charlie finally settled down on the deck.
“No,” I replied, “but at least I don’t have to prove who I am to you.”
“That’s right, Dude. So, how ‘bout another Milkbone?”
“You got it.”