Dear Bank Manager,
I am writing to thank you for bouncing the check with which I
endeavored to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations some three
nanoseconds must have elapsed between his presenting the check, and
the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honor it. I refer, of
course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my entire salary, an
arrangement which, I admit, has only been in place for eight years.
You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity,
and also for debiting my account with $50 by way of penalty for the
inconvenience I caused to your bank. My thankfulness springs from the
manner in which this incident has caused me to re-think my errant
financial ways. You have set me on the path of fiscal righteousness.
No more will our relationship be blighted by these unpleasant
incidents, for I am restructuring my affairs in 1999, taking as my
model the procedures, attitudes and conduct of your very bank. I can
think of no greater compliment, and I know you will be excited and
proud to hear it.
To this end, please be advised about the following changes:
First, I have noticed that whereas I personally attend to your
telephone calls and letters, when I try to contact you I am confronted
by the impersonal, ever-changing, pre-recorded, faceless entity which
your bank has become. From now on I, like you, choose only to deal
with a flesh and blood person.
My mortgage and loan repayments will, therefore and hereafter, no
longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by cheque,
addressed personally and confidentially to an employee of your branch,
whom you must nominate. You will be aware that it is an offense under
the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope.
Please find attached an Application Contact Status which I require our
chosen employee to complete. I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in
order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about
me, there is no alternative. Please note that all copies of his or
her medical history must be countersigned by a Justice of the Peace,
and that the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income,
debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented
In due course I will issue your employee with a PIN number which
he/she must quote in all dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be
shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modeled it on the number of
button presses required to access my account balance on your phone
bank service. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of
Let me level the playing field even further by introducing you to my
new telephone system, which you will notice, is very much like yours.
My authorized contact at your bank, the only person with whom I will
have any dealings, may call me at any time and will be answered by an
automated voice. By pressing Buttons on the phone, he/she will be
guided thorough an extensive set of menus:
1. To make an appointment to see me
2. To query a missing repayment
3. To make a general complaint or inquiry
4. To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there;
Extension of living room to be communicated at the time the call is
5. To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am still sleeping.
Extension of bedroom to be communicated at the time the call is
6. To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.
Extension of toilet to be communicated at the time the call is
7. To transfer the call to my mobile phone in case I am not at home.
8. To leave a message on my computer. To leave a message a password to
access my computer is required. Password will be communicated at a
later date to the contact.
9. To return to the main menu and listen carefully to options 1
The contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my
automated answering service. While this may on occasion involve a
lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration. This month
I've chosen a refrain from The Best Of Woody Guthrie:
"Oh, the banks are made of marble With a guard at every door And the
vaults are filled with silver That the miners sweated for"
After twenty minutes of that, our mutual contact will probably know it
by heart. On a more serious note, we come to the matter of cost.
As your bank has often pointed out, the ongoing drive for greater
efficiency comes at a cost. A cost which you have always been quick to
pass on to me. Let me repay your kindness by passing some costs back.
First, there is the matter of advertising material you send me. This I
will read for a fee of $20 per page. Inquiries from your nominated
contact will be billed at $5 per minute of my time spent in response.
Any debits to my account, as, for example, in the matter of the
penalty for the dishonored cheque, will be passed back to you.
My new phone service runs at 75 cents a minute (even Woody Guthrie
doesn't come for free), so you would be well advised to keep your
inquiries brief and to the point. Regrettably, but again following
your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the
setting up of this new arrangement.
May I wish you a happy, if ever-so-slightly less prosperous, New Year.
Your humble client