"We are sorry to learn that Norma Keller has passed away." But Iím Norma Keller. Iím not dead." As required by law, we have frozen all assets, and any government benefits paid after the date of death must be returned." The letter slides from my hands. If I wasnít sitting at my desk, Iíd probably fall over. Itís just a stupid bureaucratic error, of course. Itíll be funny, once I straighten out this nonsense of having my assets frozen. I canít very well be dead when I just got the mail. Superstitiously, I check my pulse anyway. Itís there. Racing, actually. I call the bankís misnamed "customer service" line, hoping this doesnít take all day. Welcome to Bank of Infinitum. The recorded voice sounds hollow, metallic. Your call is important to us. For information in English, press 1. Para informacion en espanol, marque 2. It drones on through other languages. I want to press the button, but my hands are shaking. For TDD services for the deaf, press 9. What? I force myself to take a couple of deep breaths, then press 1. Another disembodied voice, a man this time. It still sounds vaguely inhuman. To better serve you, please input your account number, followed by the pound sign. If you are calling from a rotary phone, please hang up and call back from a touch-tone phone Well, that stinks. Sometimes if you just stay on the line, they connect you to a human. And I donít have my account number handy. I pick up the hello-youíre-dead letter off the floor, but it doesnít have my account number either. I rummage through desk drawers as the voice monotones on. Your call is important to us. If "monotone" isnít a verb, it should be. What kind of a job would that be, anyway, saying "Your call is important to us" into a tape recorder? Do they hire out-of-work actors with annoying voices who sound like aliens? I find the account number and punch it in slowly. After thirty seconds of silence, I remember the pound sign. What if they ask me how I know Iím not dead? I picture some snotty teller at the other end: "Maíam, we donít make that sort of mistake. People call all the time saying theyíre not dead, but it always turns out that they are." Now Iím just being ridiculous. Besides, my chances of reaching another human Ė living or dead Ė seem to be nil. Following the ghostly voices, I input my social security number, my telephone number, the pound sign.
To open an account, press 1.
To apply for a loan, press 2.
For account information, press 3.
To report lost or stolen credit cards, press 4.
For branch locations and hours, press 5.
For account balances, transfers, and account activity, press 1.
To order checks, press 2.
For online services, press 3.
For information in English, press 1.
Para informacion en espanol....
If this is Norma Keller, press 2.
If this is Manuel Garcia....
x x x