by Larry Teren
Harry stopped Friday mid-afternoon in his office, anticipating picking up a nice sized check mailed by a client. He wasn’t disappointed. He quickly went downstairs to the bank on the ground level of the building and waited for the teller to motion him forward. He handed over the deposit slip and the check. The teller looked at the pieces of paper and input his account number into the computer. After staring at the screen for a moment she turned to Harry and said: “sorry, I can’t accept this. Your account is restricted.” Harry asked her to repeat what she said and then for her to explain what that meant. The teller told him to take it up with the bank manager.
The bank manager invited him into her office cubicle and said that his account was restricted and that they didn’t want to do business with him anymore. Harry immediately thought someone had done identity theft and did something illegal with his account. Or, that they felt his business was not worth it as he was too often transferring funds between accounts. He asked for all the money in his three accounts- a business checking, personal checking and “high” savings account (which was only giving out .01 interest). The manager said his accounts were frozen and that she could not give it to him. She did, though, offer to call the fraud department (also known as internal affairs). They commiserated and then put Harry on the phone where the fraud people finally agreed to give him an amount from two of the accounts which came to about a third of his money.
What made this excruciating was that he was given no reason for the “divorce” and Monday would be Labor Day so he would have to wait until Tuesday to pursue the matter further. Nor could he any longer use his debit card or checks. When Tuesday morning finally came, Harry brought an attorney with him to the bank office branch manager. This time she said she was prepared to give him the rest of his money exclusive of keeping open a small amount to make sure that all checks that he had written had cleared. Two days later, he then went back to collect the final amount. At that time, the bank manager said she could now tell him why this was happening as all his accounts were closed. He then asked her if a certain event was what had triggered the parting of the ways. She nodded. So, what happened that caused Harry to encounter bank account restriction?
It all started because Harry had a lousy tooth ache in the middle of July. He went to the dentist who did the usual x-ray which confirmed that the painful tooth was so bad it needed to be extracted. What complicated the situation was that it was the lower right side wisdom tooth. Harry’s dentist declined to do the pulling as it was in a bad place. He needed to see an oral surgeon quickly. It also meant he was going to have to spend more than he would have liked to have one tooth pulled- about seven hundred fifty dollars.
The dentist made emergency arrangements for Harry to go to a place a couple of miles away and commence with the reduction in his tooth count. The deed was done. Harry bled for a couple of days out of the socket where once stood a monument to his wisdom. He also dealt with taking antibiotics and non-addictive pain killers.
Harry thought he was out of the woods with the whole ordeal. Five weeks later, however, another wisdom tooth- this time on the left top row side flared up. The pain was even more excruciating but Harry gutted it out for a couple of days over the weekend until his dentist was available on Monday. Once again the dentist decided Harry needed to go to an oral surgeon and even let him do the x-ray because it needed what they called a panoramic view.
His dentist this time gave him another choice of surgeons. Harry made calls and found one about two hundred fifty dollars cheaper than the first guy. The guy worked more quickly but the pain was not any less.
The surgery was done on a Thursday. The next day Harry had to take his mother to a hospital emergency room. In the afternoon, as she was finally getting approved to be admitted, he left and went to his office to see if there were any checks to deposit but also knowing he was in a rush situation as he had to go back to make sure his mother was situated in a hospital room properly.
At the bank, with a check and deposit slip in hand, he was fidgeting and still spitting blood, feeling stomach pains from the antibiotic and thinking about trying to get to the hospital at the onset of rush hour. The lady ahead of him at the teller spot was gabbing away and trading anecdotes with the teller as it appeared she was finished with her transaction. After waiting a couple of minutes, Harry moved up to the teller and slightly nudged the lady aside saying that she was done and should let others do their business. They exchanged words and she left. The teller looked at him sheepishly. When he was finished doing his quick deposit, he tried finding the lady to apologize for acting irritated but she was gone.
Apparently the lady had complained to the bank and they decided that despite Harry having been a customer for more than fifteen years at that branch, he was persona non grata. The fact that they did not just give him his money the day he came to make another deposit and discover the restriction status was open to conjecture. They also could have informed him of their decision without having to wait for him to show up.
About three weeks later he was standing in line waiting to make a deposit at his new bank. A lady was in front of him and went up to the next available teller. There were two tellers but the other one decided to slide over from her cage to the other teller and all three began a conversation. The customer said that she was a psychologist and could analyze people. She started telling the two tellers about their personalities. Harry rolled his eyes wondering why the guy upstairs was doing these things to him. Then the customer’s cell phone rang. She motioned to the tellers to hold a moment while she took the call. She started talking in a loud voice in a shooting the breeze manner with the invisible party at the other end of the conversation. After a half minute of this, one of the tellers looked up at Harry meekly, went back to her cage and summoned him forward to do his business.
After he left the bank building, Harry looked up to the sky and let out a loud “yes!”. By the way, Harry told me this story while he was driving and I was in the passenger side up front. He interrupted the narration two or three times to honk at other drivers and give the universal salute to the rear license plates of a couple of cars. Well, Harry does have two more wisdom teeth, you know.