I started banking at Bank of America in 1998 because my paychecks were through them and they had a location downtown that was convenient. I never really liked their corporateness, but there was one teller – older, local lady – who always remembered my name and was very helpful. I liked her.
A few years ago, BoA closed the downtown location and shifted everything to out behind the mall, which was inconvenient since I never go out there. I thought about changing banks – a local bank took over the downtown spot – but changing banks is a bit of a hassle and I never got around to it. The nice older lady retired. Occasionally, I’d hear about how BoA was in bed with some fracking company or heavily invested in harvesting baby seals or some such and thought “I really gotta change banks”, but I didn’t follow through.
Back in April, I filled out a direct deposit form for my new job at the homeless shelter. The money didn’t show up in my account, so I started looking into it and discovered that, in fact, the money had gone into my account, but BoA took it out immediately. I’m kinda slack about paying attention to my balance, but I started looking and discovered that they’d taken $1800 out in March. At this point, a total of $2300 had vanished from my account. I started calling.
Calling “customer service” at Bank of America is about what you’d expect: a recording gives you a list of options – none of which were “Where the hell is my money?” – then you wait on hold for forty-five minutes, then you talk to someone who doesn’t know, doesn’t care, and isn’t going to try. One time, the “customer service representative” told me that BoA had taken my money because I owed it from 1999, which didn’t make sense, and then offered to transfer me to the appropriate person to help me. They then transferred me back to the starting point: a recorded list of options. After another call or two, I found out that Bank of America had started pulling money out of my account to pay my credit card bill. I’d been using the card a bit more than usual because of the fucking global pandemic which was making getting a job difficult. I explained to the “customer service rep” that I had not authorized these transactions and that I would like my money – not all of it; I understood that I had to pay the balance on the card. I just wanted something to live on, since I wasn’t going to be using the card anymore. They very helpfully said they were doing something and that I’d get the $1800 in “four to six business days”. Obviously, that didn’t happen. When I called again, seven business days later, the call center drone I spoke with told me that the previous call center drone hadn’t done anything, but they surely would and I’d get the money in “four to six business days”. They also said they would cancel the next scheduled unauthorized theft from my account, which was apparently going to be $1600 even though at that point my balance was about $1000. Yeah – they were going to take more money ut of my account that I owed. This drone actually did actually do something because I started getting emails from BoA saying that I had to provide information regarding my claim. Specifically, they wanted to know my account number.
Chew on that. Bank of America needed me to tell them the number that they gave me for the account that they took money from.
During the same period, I went downtown and opened an account at that local bank that had set up in the old BoA location. They are lovely people. When I call, an actual human being answers the phone – a human being who is competent and helpful. All of my interactions with the new bank have been quite positive. I cleared out my account at BoA and put it all in the local.
My government stimulus check arrived around 9 May. I paid the mortgage, sent a child support check and had enough left for tobacco. Then I realized something.
I intended to leave Bank of America for years, but never got around to it. The whole business with BoA jacking money out of my account had given me the motivation to make the change. I was gonna have to pay off the card eventually. I got the government money right on time to pay what I needed to pay on time.
Nothing was actually wrong. Yes, Bank of America pulled some shady, sheisty shit – right in the middle of a world-wide pandemic, no less – but nobody with any sense trusts a corporate bank. I had what I needed when I needed it. I’d also like to add that, at no point did I kirk the fuck out and start yelling at any of the call center drones that I spoke with. Those pathetic slobs are doing a horrible job for minimum wage and no benefits. Of course, they world would be a better place if none of them went to work tomorrow, but they gotta eat too. There’s no reason to take out one’s anger on people who are basically slaves of the corporate beast. They deserve pity more than hate.
I consciously and willfully live on God’s grace. I get up everyday and go to work on time and I try to live in such a way that Jesus won’t be embarrassed to have me in His flock. I fail frequently, though not as catastrophically as I regularly did when I was ingesting meth and vodka. Theoretically, I’d have a whole boatload of faith and know that things were gonna turn out A-Okay, but it doesn’t always work out that way. In actuality, I spend more time in the shitshow we call Trump’s America than in a blissful state of awareness that I am held in the hands of a loving God. It’s pretty easy for me to get anxious, especially when some evil corporation starts taking my money – I think we all know by now that the big banks can do anyfuckingthing they want with no fear of being held accountable.
God had my back. Or maybe it was just a random string of occurrences that fit in perfectly with my lived experience for the twenty-two years I’ve been attempting to have some kind of relationship with the Divine, but which don’t prove anything. Yeah, that.
I am saying that God altered physical reality to make me change banks. That would be ridiculous. The fact is that a big bank like Bank of America trying to fuck over a very small account-holder is the natural law of big banks. I can’t think of any reason God would want me to write my mortgage checks from a local bank, but I don’t waste time trying to figure out the Big Plan. God knows what She’s doing – I don’t need to.
The take away is: things work out better when one relies on God’s grace and does the best one can. Also, Bank of America will fuck you over if they get a chance.