“Good morning, Bank, Lucinda speaking, how may I be of service today?”
“Hi. Lucinda. I’m having trouble getting money out-“
“May I take your name, sir?”
“Umm, yes, my name is B. I tried to take some money out yesterday-“
“I’m sorry sir, but I can’t find your name on our database; could you spell it for me please, sir?”
“Yes…B. I’m definitely a customer of yours.”
“I’m sorry sir, but it’s not showing; are you certain you bank with us, sir?”
“Well yes. I’m definitely a customer of yours, I’ve been a customer for years; I have a Bank card with which I’ve been able to draw out money before.” B. fumbles in his back pocket for the card; it’s nestled between a note from his sister and a receipt for a book.
“Do you have the card on you, sir?”
“Could you read the long number on the front of the card out to me please, sir?”
“Of course.” B. clears his throat.
“Could you repeat that, sir?”
“I didn’t say anything.”
“My apologies sir; could you read the long number on the front of the card out to me please, sir?”
“Yes, it’s 3840, 2765-“
“I’m sorry sir, but the system isn’t recognising these numbers, could you read them again for me please, sir?”
“Yes, it’s 3840-“
“2……7……6……5, no I’m sorry sir it’s no good, the system doesn’t recognise those numbers.”
“I have more numbers; could I read you them?”
“No sir, that wouldn’t make any difference at all; we have no accounts on file that begin with those numbers. Is that definitely your card, sir?”
B. looks it over. His name is on the front. The bank’s name is on the front. The bottom right corner plastic covering is peeling ever so slightly, as it has been doing for the past month. B. checks his other pockets for other cards. He hasn’t any other cards; he isn’t a customer of any other bank.
“Let me just get my superior, sir. See if we can’t straighten this out for you.”
“Thank you.” The hold music starts to play – The Köln Concert – odd choice; it clashed horribly with the music coming from the lounge of the hotel. B. shifts in his seat, scratches behind his ear, and lets out a long, deep breath, which ends in the sound a horse might make, were it so inclined.
B. glances around the lobby; he spies an old couple who’ve been coming here for years; they smile and audibly greet every member of staff who passes by; the greeting is heartily, if professionally, returned; not a flicker of recognition cross any of their faces; the pattern is pleasing to the old couple; this is the wallpaper they’ve chosen every year for these two weeks of their life; the dyes used to colour it may subtly change, but the pattern will remain, and it’ll never go out of production.
“Good morning sir, I am Lucinda’s superior and I understand there seems to be a problem accessing your account?”
“Hello, yes, I tried to take some money out yesterday-“
“Yes sir, Lucinda filled me in, and the card you have begins with the numbers 38402765?”
“Yes it does.”
“What may have happened sir, is that your account may have been altered during the cleaning we had last week-“
“Yes sir, the cleaning; our systems get cleaned every now and then for security purposes; I won’t bore you with the details, they’re over my head anyhow; but suffice it to say sir, all areas of our systems are thoroughly cleaned, and in the process of putting them all back together, one can very occasionally find that a small part has been put back in the wrong order; it is then a simple case of finding where that small part and all that’s associated with it has got to, sir.”
“Is this common?”
“No sir, in fact I’ve never come across it until today, sir.”
“How do you know that this is what’s happened?”
“It has all the hallmarks sir, but please don’t worry, we have trained individuals who can sort all this out for you, sir.”
“How long will it take?”
“No time at all sir, I’m sure; what you need do sir, is to write to us at your earliest convenience, stating the problem as you understand it, let us know your contact details so that the appropriate member of staff can contact you and deal with the problem as soon as possible, sir.”
“Can you not take my details to the relevant department?”
“Would that I could sir, would that I could, I wouldn’t know where to begin. Your letter will be dealt with in the appropriate manner sir, when it arrives at the appropriate department.”
“Will the appropriate department’s system recognise me if my details have been put back in the wrong order?”
“Absolutely sir; they will have access to the residual code, which is never wrong.”
“But to which you do not have access?”
“No sir; protocol, sir; for your own good, sir.”
“I see.” Not seeing.
“Is there anything else I can help you with today, sir?”
“No thank you, goodbye.”
The long, drawn out dialling tone clashed horribly with the music coming from the lounge of the hotel. B. replaced the handset, rose slowly, and walked to reception. He asked for some sheets of writing paper and a pen. And some envelopes. The hotel would stamp them appropriately when it came time to post them.
I’m so dreadfully sorry to hear of your money troubles; don’t let the swines give you the run-around; stand your ground and demand your rights, and only threaten them with the police as a last resort, and if you’re sure they won’t call your bluff; Uncle’s legacy still plagues us all.
On the lighter side I’m keeping well. I can’t hunt any more, not that I really enjoyed it when I was able; I miss the gossip mostly, and the thighs. I’ve inveigled the services of the Postmaster’s youngest daughter, please don’t think ill of me; she’d be wasted on a boy of her own age, and soiled by any of the “respectable” men about town. She’s so sweet and intelligent and funny and tender and soft in all the right places, I couldn’t let her be ruined. Am I trying to convince you of this, or myself? I don’t care; I’m almost convinced that I love her, and I can tell that she adores looking after me; I’m an enviable mistress.
Ah! That is her now; I must see to her.
All my love all ways,
P.S. I’ve remembered the name of the book; À rebours.