Why Not?

We’ve gotten matters pretty well squared away here in Partickhill. Internet, check. Rhythm of grocery-shopping and dinner-making, check; laundry, check (that reminds me, I need more detergent); friendly, encouraging colleagues, check; comfortable churches, check. So life in Scotland’s most populous city, home of its top two football powers as well as the Partick Thistle (who play in Maryhill; what’s with that?), location of a distinguished ancient university, it’s settling into a groove. Glory, even my shipper has called to admit that the boxes landed two weeks ago, and clear customs several days after that, and that they’re turning them over to a trucker who will transport them to my office (there are many more books than any other item, so it’ll be easier to get clothes and furnishings to Partickhill than to get books from Partickhill to the University).
I was whistling across campus with a spring in my step, jauntily ascending the dozen or so flights of stairs to my top-floor office, and starting up my desktop computer when I saw a message so bizarre that it might have been written in Klingon: “Dear Dr. Adam, Please contact the Finance Office, as your bank refused to accept direct deposit of your pay; they indicated that there was no account corresponding to the numbers you gave us.” Stop and read that again: my bank refused to accept the deposit of my month’s pay. Someone put me in touch with 10 Downing Street and the White House; if this is how banks operate at this juncture, I may be able to clarify the roots of the financial crisis.
Curiouser and curiouser, because two days ago Scottish Gas had deducted my monthly payment from my account even though I told them not to, that I wouldn’t have any money in it till after payday; a kind bank officer had permitted me to cover the overdraft with an on-the-spot cash deposit. So we know that there is indeed an account such as I specified to the Finance Office, and that it’s possible for people to withdraw money from it, since Scottish Gas had already done so. My bank was letting people withdraw money that I don’t have, but were refusing to accept the deposit of money that I have in fact earned.
Phone calls back and forth ensued. The Finance Office verified that they had the correct numbers for my account. The bank said that they couldn’t comment on what might have gone wrong, since the transaction was handled at a processing center centre elsewhere. The Finance Office called the bank, but the bank wouldn’t tell them anything. The bank referred us to a call centre that, after looking into the situation and extracting from me all manner of personal data, decided that my local branch should really handle it, and left a message for them ‘with an Urgent flag’. (See? I’m even practising punctuating as a writer from Great Britain might do.) Wonder of wonders, the local branch declined to call me back this afternoon.
In all this, I have to give gold stars to the Finance Office who (a) did what they ordinarily would, that is, a simple straightforward transaction conducted correctly, and (b) went over and above that to try to remedy a screw-up that must have taken place on the bank’s side of the bullet-proof glass. They offered to prepare a cheque for me, to take to the office and deposit by hand, but they noted that it would take several days for the cheque to clear, by which time they just might — if the bank were willing — have been able to sneak my salary past the bank’s defenses and into my account. Plus, the same problem might obtain next month, so we might as well take care of it now. I have the feeling that they’d have passed a basket around the office to take up a collection for me.
And in fact, one of my colleagues had yesterday offered to loan me money to help me get by, at (she said mischievously, templing her fingers) a reasonable rate of interest. I pointed out that under the circumstances, I should borrow from one of our Islamists instead.
I’m not in want. Margaret is making enough money to support me; I take out pounds from the cashpoints in the neighborhood, and charge things on our US credit card. Still, it was a rough day when the prospect of local solvency was dangled in front of me, then snatched so cruelly away. So there’s at least one more hurdle for me to crash through before I’m thoroughly settled here.

2 thoughts on “Why Not?

  1. Arghhh!

    If only it was a simple as the fact that Scottish banks print their own currency. Alas, it’s all Sterling. I’m sure common sense will prevail.

    Go well, friend.

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