It is now my fourth day of vacation, not counting the weekend, and I still have four more to go. This is the most consecutive time I've taken off since my wedding and honeymoon six years ago, and those were the three most hectic weeks of my life. I suppose some people would count my 9 weeks of maternity leave as vacation, but those people have never recuperated from labor and delivery, or cared for an infant.
But this vacation is filled with loosely planned activities with my son, capped with a grown-ups only trip to Chicago. And now that Tommy is napping, I am finding myself with 2.5 luxurious hours to do whatever I want (as long as I don't leave the house). I finally finished The Executioner's Song, which I've been reading for about a year in the 30-minute blocks between Tommy's bedtime and when I pass out on the couch. Later I hope to post some pictures to our website, since the last picture of Tommy up there predates Christmas 2006. But now I blog.
It feels very decadent to have so much time to myself. But then I remember people in Europe get on average 24 days of vacation, compared to 13 for the U.S. That means that I'm slightly below average with 10 days of vacation, and two floating holidays. Just another five more years at my current place of employment and I'll get that coveted third week of vacation. Sigh.
I told the folks at work that if they needed me in an emergency they could call my cell, but Friday I put the damn thing through the washing machine and now it is B-roken. I blame "vacation brain." I always check pockets before I do laundry when I am in hyper-working-mom-get-four-days-worth-of-chores-done-in-an-hour mode. (Except for the time I put a box of Tommy's raisins in with the towels and made grapes.) And it sucks to have to replace the phone because I hate using it. But apparently society dictates that I need it "in case of an emergency" blah blah blah blah blah. I rather like not being reachable at any moment of the day. But I probably would miss it if I had a blowout on the parkway with a screaming 2 year old in the backseat.
Today my plan was to meet my girlfriend for breakfast, but first I stopped at my bank to get some cash. Went through the entire transaction - the machine even told me "transaction complete" - but I received no cash. That's when I happened to notice two envelopes in the trash with handwritten messages of "MACHINE BROKEN" and "WILL NOT DISPENSE CASH!!!" Crap. This was at 8:55; my breakfast was set for 9 AM, conveniently the same time the bank opened. I decided to take care of the problem since I was there, and after all, how long would it take to fix it?
I hate banking. I hate banks. Hate hate hate. There is no reason to ever go to a bank if you have direct deposit, online banking, and ATMs. It pisses me off to have to step foot in a bank and take 15 minutes to do a transaction that would take 30 seconds to do online. But I foolishly wait in a throng of early morning brick-and-mortar banking lovers, because I believe that a PERSON may be able to help me more efficiently than a machine.
At first, that seemed to be the case. The teller was able to see that, yes, five minutes ago I did indeed access my account at their ATM attached to their building. And yes, the ATM did withdraw $40 from my checking account, although I received no cash. And the teller acknowledged, "we've been having problems with that machine." But then it went downhill. I was sent to the second tier of the banking inferno, where the "specialists" work. There "Kumar" took my card and asked me to verify my address, phone number, and account information down. Then he got on the phone with corporate for about five minutes, and I heard a snippet about "Form 1017-C". It's now 9:15. If you recall, I have no cell phone so I can't call my girlfriend. Plus, the bank is a very boring place for a toddler, particularly if you don't let him pull all of the deposit slips off the counters.
Kumar gets off the phone, tippity-types at his terminal for a few minutes, turns to me and says, "OK, looks like we're all in order. I've submitted the correct form, and you should receive your refund in approximately 10 days."
Hmm? What's that? Come again? TEN DAYS??
"The ATM's funds are handled separately than the bank's, and I'm afraid that all claims need to be processed for these types of refunds. The process takes approximately 10 days. In the meantime if you need to make a withdrawal, you can use our internal ATM at your convenience."
Well, thank you very much for making this banking experience so G-D CONVENIENT. I hope Citizens Bank enjoys making interest off of my hijacked $40 for the next 10 FREAKING DAYS.
I thought about causing a ruckus and demanding satisfaction but 1) I was running late. 2) I try to curb my use of the f-word when I am with my son. 3) Like fighting most things banking related, I would have argued until my face turned blue, but still received an "It's out of our hands" response (accompanied by sheepish smile and shrug). And I know that response. I understand that response. Shit, I worked customer service and I've GIVEN that response. But it still sucks when it's your money and your time and you have yet to have your breakfast.
Fortunately when I got to Kazansky's at 9:20, my poor girlfriend--seven months pregnant and, I'm sure, starving--was still waiting for me. I knew that scrambled eggs and potato knishes would restore my mood.
She looked at me, smiled sheepishly and shrugged: "They're not open until 10 AM."
CURSE YOU, CITIZENS BANK!! Somehow this is all your fault, too.
Citizens Bank R
"Not Your Typical Bank"TM
Monday, July 09, 2007