Walden World

The wacky and wonderful tales of Beth's and Catherine's global adventures. And all things Walden too.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Loan

Now I am not known as the world's snappiest dresser. Not as bad as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but still dyke meets grunge circa 2009. However my choice of dress did not serve me well on a hot day in late September as I went in search of an increase to my overdraft.

I didn't really need an increase. It was just that a perfect storm of financial matters had merged to mean I was without sufficient funds to meet this month's mortage payment. I had taken too much vacation at my old job and had to pay it back and had started a new job where your pay was held for a month, perhaps to make the transition even more difficult.

In any event, on the day the mortgage came due I looked in horror to find that I would be $50 short. I have never missed a mortgage nor a rental payment in my life and wasn't, at the age of 43, about to start.

I phoned C at work and left frantic messages asking her to put $50 in my account. No reply. I concluded she must be out all day taking someone's kids. I called my bank back in the Sault and spoke with an accounts manager: "Can you increase my overdraft by $50?" Her reply: "No I am sorry, we cannot do this over the phone, you must go in person to a bank". Time was running out; it was late in the day. The payment usually comes out around 5pm. I needed money.

When it comes to money matters and bureaucracy, I tend not deal with stress so well. In panic I dashed across the street to the local TD and charged up to the counter: "I need a $50 increase to my overdraft". I was directed to sit on a chair and wait for a loans officer to emerge and take my application.

I sat there sweating, my breathing laboured. A very presentable woman emerged and took me into her office. I said hurriedly: "Hi there, I just need a $50 buck increase to my overdraft!" She looked me over and advised that I must apply for any increase as it was not automatic. "But I just need $50! For my mortgage."

The answer was the same.

I sit, she sits. She pulls up the computer. "What do you do?" she asks. "Um I'm a lawyer" I reply. She eyes me suspiciously. "And how much do you make?" I give a respectable lawyerly salary figure. This time she looks at me with an arched brow. "Where do you work?" I name the agency. "Do you have a card?" "Um no...I just started working there and they haven't made my business cards up yet." "What is the address?" "Ummm...I don't know, like I said I just started there. It's on University Avenue, around Dundas" "The phone number?" Reply: "Uh not sure". I get a bright idea: "Do you want my old work address and number because I still work across the street sometimes? You know?" She informs me she has it on record thank you.

It is just then that I cast a glance down at my clothing. I am wearing very well lived in black jeans, a black leather belt, a weathered T-shirt featuring the Angel of Death playing an electric guitar and what has to be the most wrecked half length leather jacket ever. It has only one button, the cuffs are all frayed, the pockets are ripped. I am sporting a nose ring and hair dyed a number of peculiar colours. Between my sweating, laboured breathing and clothes I realize she knows that I am not a lawyer at all, but really one of the crackheads who hang out at the Mr. Sub across the street looking for chump change to buy some rock.

I try humour:"Well ha ha, bad day to ask for a loan eh? Everyone's stocks are just crashing. I'm sure my RRSPs aren't worth anything now..." Stoney silence. I was only digging myself deeper.

As the clicking of the keyboard continues she informs me the system won't allow for a mere "$50" increase, I must ask for a substantial sum, $500 or a $1000.

She prints off the application for me to sign, have my signature checked and the papers sent off to head office for "consideration". In due time, I am told, my application will be reviewed and processed.

Some time later the bank writes to tell me my overdraft has been increased. In the end C had got my messages and put money into my account anyway so nothing bounced.

Perhaps who summed this exercise in humilation up best was my friend Natasha, another lawyer, whom I told this story to at a meeting. Looking at me with the arched brow of the banking exec, she said: "Girlfriend, don't ever do that again. Next time you need $50 bucks, come to Natasha."