For the past hour, I have been held “hostage” at my bank in Los Angeles. I am trying to close a safe deposit box that I opened in 1995. Last month, the bank decided that they would like to charge me an annual fee for this box. A box that has been free for the last two decades. By the way, a free safe deposit box was the least they could do given the ten different accounts that I have had at this bank over that time. I tried to call them and close the box from Hawaii, but apparently you have to close a safe deposit box in person. So here I am.
Thankfully I have a copy of my latest bank statement, my safe deposit box key and 17 forms of picture ID. In spite of that, two different bank associates can’t find my “original contract.”
This is all to CLOSE a box that is in my name, at my bank, in person, with all of my banking information and photo IDs.
So I am not sure what the hold up is? Perhaps because my “original contract” predates the bank using the Internet and computers and was 3 kids, 3 dogs, 2 cats, 1 hamster, 2 marriages, 8 jobs and 6 houses ago? So I can see how it might be an old file, but they have the original signature card and they have my most recent address.
The ridiculous part is that the box is probably empty. There might be a penny stock certifIcate, from a defunct boat building company, that my ex-husband bought when we were first married in the 1980s. But other than that, I think there is nothing of value in this box. At this rate I will never know, because the bank is closing in 8 minutes, and there is no end to this bureaucratic (literal) paper chase.
If it weren’t for the principal of being charged for the use of this box (that I no longer need), I would just walk away. But they have me here now, and I don’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.
It turns out, I was right about one of the items in the box. I kept that worthless stock certificate, decades after the company went bankrupt, as a reminder to never buy penny stocks again.
But there was one other item in the box.
A letter I wrote to my oldest daughter, 22 years ago, on her first birthday.
I have often said that time is my greatest commodity. So I am truly intolerant of time wasted.
This bank had just wasted a precious hour and a half of my time. An hour and a half of an already tightly-packed schedule for a week of meetings and other obligations. But finding this letter to my daughter was a gentle reminder that time is precious... and it goes very, very fast if you aren’t paying attention.
90 minutes ended up being a small price to pay to open up this time capsule and find an emotional treasure inside.
A reminder of just how deeply I felt about my first baby on her first birthday.
A reminder of how nervous I was that she would turn out okay.
A reminder that I was bumping around in the dark, trying to figure out how to be a working mother, without screwing things up.
22 years later, she has turned out pretty great.
Now I get to share this birthday card with her to remind her just how much I loved her... and still do.
So, in the end, it was worth the wait.