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» Banks

Banks are fun
"I'd like a new card, please."

"Can I ask why you'd like a new card?"

(No, you fucking can't. Just give me another card.)

"My Ebay account and email account have been hacked. There might be information that they could use to shop online. I need to stop my card."

"So your card has been stolen?"

"No, I have the card right in front of me. I'm just worried that the details on it might not be secure. I'd like to get a new one issued."

"Has your card been damaged in any way?"

"No, I'd just like a new card."

"I can't issue a new card unless one has been lost, stolen or damaged..."

"Can I just get this one stopped and a new one sent out?"

"I can only do that..."

"I understand. Well, we'll just say it's lost then."

"I've stopped that card, and I new one will be with you in 5 to 7 working days. The PIN will arrive separately before the card. If you need to get any money out from that account, take two forms of ID and a statement with your account number on it to your branch."

"Great. Thanks for your help."

"Thank you Teepee, have a smashing day."

(Smashing? Are you a 1940's schoolboy?)

[Later that day, in branch]

I've fucked up. There's no way around it. But I've got no choice. Two miles is a long way to walk in the rain. Needing the cash for travel, I've got to front it out.

"I'm sorry, but without a statement, you can't make a withdrawal."

"I have several forms of ID here... Birth certificate, Passport, P60.."

"But I'd need a statement. Your card has a stopped indicator on it, which means it could be stolen.."

"I know, I stopped it this morning. Can I.."

"...which means it could be stolen. For security purposes..."

"Can I speak to your manager?"

The manageress and I have the same philosophical debate. We dance well, it turns out. There's a lot of 'I understand what you're saying... but' from my end. She's 'sorry for my inconvenience'. The problem is, while I do understand what she's saying, I don't care what she's saying. Can't back down here, there's no wiggle room in this argument. And as much as I don't care what she's saying, it isn't as much as she isn't remotely interested in my inconvenience. We're inconveniencing each other in equal measure, she as a functionary, and me as an impossible function. We're in trouble. But we continue dancing, because I can't back down. Each minute I've got an extra employee dealing with me in branch is money they're losing in employee use value. If it's the manager, that's the employee and the manager, whose time is worth about five times as much to the branch. Every time I get to the counter and stay there for five minutes with a manager, they've lost an hour of labour. There will be longer cues for the next ten minutes. And I feel bad for a second there, about the other customers and their inconvenience, I really do. But in equal measure, I really just don't.

I'm palmed off to the phones to see if I can get any joy from a transfer to my savings account.
Before I go, I let them know that having my card frozen will mean I won't be able to pass phone security checks; and that I'll have to come back. After a brief ten minutes with a Emma in Scotland, it is apparent that I'm right in this instance. However, I do get a break. After asking alternate security questions, which I answer well, she has accepted it is me, and tells me "Proof of identity is at the discretion of the branch manager". All I have to do is get her to exercise her discretion. Emma is saddened by my treatment, bless her. I shouldn't have been sent over to the phones. I agree. I told them, I said. We both sigh simultaneously. The world is unjust, blighted with fools. I get a branch employee over to talk to Emma, who berates them for a minute that they shouldn't have done that.
I will miss Emma.

I'm back at the front of the queue. I'm wanting to talk to the person I haven't spoken to yet, and get to the manager again. The manager is at lunch. She's just gone. How about the assistant manager? They're not here today. If you'd like to go over to our other branch in Market Square... (I stifle a chuckle) I'm willing to wait for the manager, I say, and sit down in the waiting area. I begin playing Scrabble on my phone. The computer pulls out some wacky words on the hard setting. And somehow, I find this pleasing. The wait begins.

The lunch crowd doesn't die off for a full hour, half term increasing the traffic more than usual on a weekday. It's hot in the branch, but I wait. I get QI on a triple word score for 33. As a variant spelling of chi, it means life force. As mine drains slowly from my body in non-specific increments, I gradually realise this is a simple battle of wills. It's me versus the Man. The fucking Man.

The hour passes, and the crowd is falling away. Children, two boys, are demolishing a wire puzzle table next to me. As they begin a vigorous, noisy dismantling procedure that I had not at first considered, I smile benignly. I'm glad they are costing the bank money. They are my little accomplices, and their solidarity is edifying. I return to my Scrabble game. I can hear them discuss my waiting game at the counter as the late lunch crowd evaporates.

The game finishes, and I walk up to the empty counter, which is manned again, on my second return. I'd like to speak to the manageress please. You've already spoken to her. I'd like to speak to her again. Whether she accepts my ID is at her discretion. I'd like her to reconsider. I need access to my funds. I tell the cashier I'm going to wait to see the manager. At this point, just before I leave the counter, while taking a second free lollipop, I sense a firm hatred has developed from this cashier towards me. A notion forms that perhaps I'm keeping her from a tasty sandwich. What sort of sandwich would this cashier eat, I think to myself. Some sort of processed or mechanically recovered meat, on white bread, thickly coated with some sort of butter-u-like. Tomato sauce, but not a cheap brand. That kind of quality meat deserves the best, and by God, it'll get it.

I sit and wait again. I begin tapping my feet, to pass the time. It will annoy someone, alert them to my continued presence. Two other children begin playing with the puzzle table next to me, and are ushered away by an employee to a different area, who takes the puzzle table with her. I'm no longer a simple problem customer. I'm a menacing, sinister time bomb, a danger to both the branch and all who inhabit it, especially children. For a brief second I am upset, but then am pleased. They must desperately want me to leave. This is good news.

Five minutes later, the cashier who hates me arrives with instruction from the manager.

"As a one off, we're willing to allow you to withdraw a hundred pounds. You won't be able to do this again, we've put a note on your account..."

"Fine, fine..."

We walk back to the counter, and the process begins. I pass her my passport, and birth certificate. She almost pushes the birth certificate back in my hand. "We don't accept birth certificates", she said. As I knew for a fact that they did (this was a few years ago), I realised she was just being rude. A bad loser. Never mind.

She hands me my cancelled card back with the money, but not onto my side of the counter. She forces me to reach over, through the perspex shield to pick it up. She is imagining hitting the security button by accident, crushing my arm against the ceiling with a ten foot steel wall.

"Isn't it the 31st today?", I say, nodding towards the calendar which has been set to the 30th all day.

"Thanks again for all you help"

Later I eat at a Subway, to celebrate not having to walk home.

"I'd like a six inch Veggie delite, extra olives, on wheat."

"Just six inches?"

"Never had any complaints. Can I get some light mayonnaise on that?"

Tasted like victory. Small, petty victory.
(Sun 19th Jul 2009, 4:25, More)

» Dumb things you've done

You get what you deserve
Last lecture at Uni. Everyones out in the daytime for a proper, full on binge. Money in pocket. I'm game too. Lovely. We start at four and by the time it's eight, I've drunk myself sober. By 10-30, I'm shitfaced once more.

The union is very busy, and we move tables. I find a pack of Marlboro light, result, nab one, toss the packet. A girl, built not unlike a brick shithouse comes over to our table for her fags. I've got one on the go. Tossed em over there, I say.

She can't find em. My friend, seeing trouble from afar, offers to buy her another pack. She spits in his face. Classy lady.

After this, I slap another good mate around the face (I don't remember this until told some days later. The guilt and shame carries on to this day) for saying something I found offensive. Bang out of order.

Kick out time, classy lady is still on the case. Look, you turned down the offer of some more smokes, or the cash, there's no need to be a bitch about it.

Slap.

I feel my teeth vibrate. But no actual pain.
Love you, beer armour.

We talk for a further five minutes (during which, I apparently call her mum a slag). I'm slapped by the girl equivalent of Mike Tyson several times. A large crowd has gathered.

By slap four, I reach up and grab the incoming five across the eyes.

"Don't hit her!" says her mate.

I stagger off at this point. I sleep under a table in the computer centre.

The next day is not the happiest day of my life. Thank fuck they didn't have phone cameras back then.
(Mon 31st Dec 2007, 16:04, More)

» Common

Common people
1. People who walk around the shops eating the products they're about to buy. You don't own it yet! Couldn't you wait to shovel it into your food hole, scumbag?

2. People who take mobile phone calls in libraries. There's a bloke doing this next to me right now. He's also using the word 'cushty' and 'bruv' a lot. He's just used the phrase 'bruvva from anotha muvva'. Yeh?

3. Jewellery, apart from a wedding band, on men. It looks gaudy and cheap.

4. Jewellery on children, especially pierced ears. That 18 month old had a choice, did it? It wanted someone to spear one of it's earlobes? Loving the clown necklace, also.

5. Smoking while you eat. I've seen a couple of people do this. Deeply unpleasant.
(Tue 21st Oct 2008, 12:35, More)

» Accidental innuendo

Working in the Eursotar terminal in Waterloo for [email protected]*hs

In our shop, we sold expandable travel bags. They were folded in their plastic cases, and you couldn't really get a good idea of their size from the picture.

While cleaning up a book display, a Portuguese woman came up to me, brandishing such a bag in its plastic case.

PW: 'How big does it get?'

Me: 'Well, madam, that's a very personal question...'

(This caused the man at the counter to crack up)

PW: 'I meant the bag...'
(Fri 13th Jun 2008, 22:31, More)

» Best Films Ever

A Bittersweet Life
I love Korean films. If they're not weepy meoldramas, they're half baked SF. If they're not SF, they're revenge dramas. And they're always totally hardcore, with at least one graphic moment of horror. There are many great Korean films. Shiri is an excellent action movie. Old Boy is incredibly extreme revenge to the max sort of film. Natural City is the Korean Blade Runner. But the best Korean film I've seen is A Bittersweet Life.

A Bittersweet Life tells the story of a hotel enforcer who falls in love with the bosses girl. It's not too much of a spoiler to say that eventually fucks him pretty badly.

You won't see a more beautifully crafted film (every detail, including the credits, is class). And it has some action set pieces that will literally have your jaw on the floor. It's the best film I've seen, with the possible exception of Double Indemnity. But Double Indemnity, while having Barbara Stanwyck, doesn't have a massive ultraviolent gun battle at the end, so this shades it.

If you've got one of those DVD to your house rental things going, get this one if you can. It's the tops!
(Thu 24th Jul 2008, 0:17, More)
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