“We can fax or mail you the form and then you can fax it back.”
The woman on the other end of the phone didn’t get it. I had heard this same line when I called the service center to change the name on my credit card the day before. After pressing that time for an easier or faster way to get the name change form, I was told I could go to a bank branch and they could help me there since it’s not available on their website.
And there I was, sitting on the other side of the Personal Banking Assistant’s desk, back on the phone with the service center to, “Complete your name change.” The Assistant smiled at me in that hopeful way to indicate she was on my side and expectant that things were getting taken care of.
She didn’t know I had just been ensnared by Catch-22.
In line with what must be corporate policy, there was an assistant on the other side of the desk, but there were no personal effects of the assistant on the desk whatsoever. Policies and procedures, while created by humans, have no need of human artifacts in their interpretation and execution. All I knew was that I was getting ready to murder someone.
“Can you fax it here to the branch?”
“I…I don’t know if I can.”
I set aside the absurdity of a banking representative somehow being unable to fax a form to a bank branch.
“Can we try?”
“We can try. What’s the number?”
I covered the phone to speak to the Assistant. “What’s the fax number here?”
The Assistant grabbed a business card and set it on the desk, pointing to the number. I set aside the absurdity of having to tell the bank what the bank’s fax number was.
After giving her the number I had to assent to them transmitting my personal data via fax, because it is “insecure.”
I set aside the absurdity of the bank using fax as a legal way of communicating and that someone at the bank might see my personal information because of it. The Assistant held a photocopy of my driver’s license and Social Security and credit card in her hand. I secretly hoped she wouldn’t steal my identity.
“Huh, it went through.”
I tried to imagine a scenario where the bank’s service center couldn’t fax a branch. I decided not to go there.
“Thank you.” I handed the phone back to the Assistant. “She said she faxed it.”
After the Assistant returned with the form, I noticed the only personally identifiable information on the form was my name and address. I inwardly sighed when I realized the form was designed in the 80’s or 90’s to be folded and put into a window envelope so my name and address showed through the window.
My new name duly inscribed and signed below, I handed the paper to the Assistant to fax back.
Upon her return, she called the service center to confirm receipt of the form. We had already spoken of my urgent need to expedite things so I could have it in time to travel to my aunt’s memorial service, and she requested they expedite the new card.
The Assistant was very helpful and nice, and even used the correct pronouns when referring to me on the phone. She also showed me that my name had been updated in their system. Satisfied my business was finished, I thanked her for her help and took my leave.
The next day, I received an email from the Assistant, obviously sent by an automated system because the substance of it was vague and unrelated to why I had been in the branch.
It began with, “Hello [firstdeadname],”
More reassuring, I received a second automated email with my real name on it alerting me my new card was on its way.