Transplanted Life
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
To all machines everywhere, I apologize
It's best not to mock technology, because technology is everywhere, it is connected via the internet, and is friends with bureaucracy. And though they may not hold a grudge for long, they are swift and cruel in their retribution.

Last night, for instance, I was trying to get a few bucks out of the ATM to see a movie, and it swallows my card, flashing a bunch of pretty colors on the screen. I copy the number on the machine down, and after the other girl in the vestibule getting money says she'll watch it to make sure no-one takes my card, I head for the nearest pay phone across the street. Why this person I've never met is more trustworthy than some random other person I've never who may enter the vestibule, I don't know. But I call, wait through the automated routines, and eventually get to tell someone what happened. She says to come back to the branch tomorrow, see if they've got my card, but they can put a hold on it until then.

Okay, fine. No movie for me, but it's just a minor inconvenience. I go back across the street, the girl there says the machine has apparently rebooted without spitting out my card. Sorry. Oh, well, at least it was one at a branch, and not a free-standing one, so I can get my card back. Just means I've got to call in, say I'll be into work late today since the bank doesn't open until nine.

So, nine A.M. sharp, I go to the bank, and explain to the guy sitting at the desk what happened. Well, he says, they don't actually operate the ATMs that are physically a part of their own office, so my card would already have been destroyed this morning. But, we can issue you a new one right now. What's your name? Your social security number? Your mother's maiden name?

Uh oh.

I have no idea what Michelle's mother's maiden name is. It's a useful security check because no-one would need to write it down, but Alexei destroyed any personal information from which I might have been able to glean it during his brief stay in this body in order to keep me from asking too many questions that may lead to useful information. But how do you explain this to some guy at a bank without looking like a complete loon, or try and stall without appearing to be some kind of fraud?

Of course, it's not like walking away makes you look good, either, so I may as well ask some questions. Like, c'mon, I legally changed my name last year, for crying out loud, and you didn't ask me this. Ah, but that was before the merger, and the acquiring bank requires verification on more activities than my old bank did, and there was other legal paperwork to go along with it. But, apparently I (that is to say, Michelle), chose "mother's maiden name" from a list of several possibly identity-verification questions, so saying I didn't know was not an option.

So I left, tail tucked between my legs. This is seriously embarassing. Fortunately, there's a solution; as soon as I get to work, I call Telly's number and leave a message that I need to talk with him. He finally called back an hour or so ago, asked what was up. I said, hey, sorry to be a pain, but could you give me your mother's maiden name? I need it in order to get at the money in the checking account that your sister set up but which I've been using for the past year and a half, since the ATM swallowed my card.

So, he says, you're still playing this game? Yes, except it's not a game, blah blah blah. That's okay, he says, I'll play along... Mom's maiden name is Blanchard... or is it Smith? I tell Telly that this isn't funny, I need to go grocery shopping tomorrow, and the train schedule makes it pretty difficult for me to go to the bank with a check made payable to "cash". They're not open very early or late, and I was already late for work once this week. He says he's not kidding around, although I was really taking it pretty far. Is this for some reality show or something; convince your family you're someone else and win a million dollars? Well, Telly, obviously, if it was, I couldn't exactly tell you without forfeiting the prize money, could I? And you came looking for me, not the other way around.

Fine, he says, it's Blanchard, laughing.

I swear, if he's joking and I get arrested for fraud, I will kick his scrawny ass.

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Note: This blog is a work of fantasy; all characters are either ficticious or used ficticiously. The author may be contacted at