I have been suffering from some rounds of bureaucratic pushback lately. Things that I think are easy to accomplish, or at least not particularly challenging, have instead become ridiculously complicated. They are, if you’ll excuse the lame commercial usage, my Maalox moments. Not to get too crunchy on you, but in spite of the setbacks I am still a huge believer in karma. I have an abiding belief and faith that any walls placed in front of me today can become doors into which I’ll enter later. Until that actually happens, though, I nevertheless have to deal with selected s***storms that rage around me.
Except for two incidents, I will spare you the humdrum details of all of my battles. In nearly every respect they’re not much different from the kind you too encounter on a regular basis. Each one involves confronting a tangled mess of red tape, my attempt to unravel it, and ultimately throwing up my hands in disgust because of an inability to obtain a resolution. Still, I am heartened that which each battle waged, those with whom I’ve clashed have met a more enhanced and “spirited” antagonist than I’ve ever been in my life. Out with the George McGovern vibe, in with the Dick Nixon. I am taking names and drawing up an enemies list.
It’s possible that my not being employed in an office anymore is responsible for this new approach to conflict. I am slowly losing the essential workplace decorum that I created to survive clashes such as these.
Where I used to not even think twice about having to suck up to someone crucial– be it a lowly clerk that could move paper, or a highly placed manager who held the keys to the kingdom– I no longer have it in me to grovel for something that by any reasonable criteria I should be given without having to build a dream team of lawyers to get it for me. I now have zero tolerance for those who are surly and unprofessional. If you display unprovoked attitude or give me any lip, I’m giving you some right back to you. Retirement allows me a perch to rest on that metaphorical catbird seat of indignation.
Don’t mess with me. I’m now actually quite proud of being able to give as good as I get.
With such backbone firmly in place, my remonstrations were duly put into play recently versus the crack staff of the Macy’s store credit department. I refer to them as “crack” not out of sarcasm but with sincerity. They simply got the best of me. Without the cache I once had by subtly referencing that I was calling on behalf of a federal judge or prosecutor, your humble blogger learned that representing just himself only opens some doors — primarily the automatic ones at the local Publix. Despite my best efforts in pushing back at a churlish representative with whom I had the pleasure of verbally sparring, she was able to conquer me simply by refusing to cooperate with my request for information. She held all the keys.
I was going toe-to-toe with Macy’s because of a blemish on all of my credit reports. It seems that sometime back in the 1990’s my ex-wife added me as an authorized shopper to a charge account that she herself opened. I am nearly certain that I never used the card, nor do I think I even had a Macy’s card in my wallet. Nonetheless I was listed on the account. When my ex later lived through her own version of financial debauchery after our marriage ended, there were a few accounts such as the Macy’s one in which I became a victim of collateral damage. One by one I have worked to remove as many of those blemishes as I can, but this particular account has proven to be a persistent and particularly nasty one to eliminate.
My ex has been cooperative, agreeing back in November of last year to call Macy’s and ask them to remove my name from her account. In fact they did so right after her first call. However, my follow-up need for them to also update this information with the credit bureaus has been the more challenging task. I was told to write them a formal letter affirming that I am no longer responsible for my ex’s account, which I did immediately. After 60 days I called back to verify that the work had been done, but they refused to speak to me. It took my ex to once again call on my behalf and confirm that they received my letter. They told her — not me — that they would transmit the updated information about me to the three major credit bureaus in the next 30 days. I am grateful for an otherwise amicable divorce so that I’m not fighting this credit war on two fronts.
Nonetheless, Macy’s if you’re out there, I’m still indignant and proud of it.
Another less serious recent pushback came courtesy of my bank. For the last two years I have been secretly jealous of Gorgeous’ debit card with Wells Fargo. She took a graphic of a cute cat that she found on the Internet, uploaded it to her account page, and promptly requested and received a new debit card with the cat’s picture on it. Seemingly every store clerk she hands it to compliments her on what a pretty kitty she has. It’s not even her cat!
Feeling left out, I too decided that I was going to get in on the personalized debit card. I know what you’re thinking: it has to be the Genesis Abacab album, right? Of course it does and I couldn’t resist. I was going be the coolest hipster in our local retirement community. You gotta love those album colors, and believe me it beats that cat on Gorgeous’ card any day.
In spite of the Wells Fargo rules that clearly state no commercial or copyrighted picture may be used, I went ahead and uploaded the Abacab graphic (sans the group name and album title) and requested that my debit card be personalized with it. Tony, Mike, and Phil are very good buddies of mine, and I’m certain that they would have been happy and proud on my behalf. However, within three business days I received an e-mail from Wells Fargo informing me that my request had been denied. They included a link to their official rules.
Totally foiled… and also seriously busted. Karma works both ways.
So it would therefore appear that you still have to pick your battles, even in retirement. Some are worth fighting for, and others, well, not so much.
Careful if you build your own catbird seat. And be extra cautious about mocking your spouse’s favorite cat picture.
Until next time…