A couple weeks ago the bank called me up to try to convince me to do something that I didn’t understand. Boring sounding things don’t make much sense to me because I stop listening before they can make sense. Also – I don’t know how most grown up things work and most grown ups talk to you like you already know about that stuff. I said I’d like to talk to someone in person at the bank who could explain it better before committing and they booked an appointment for me.
At 10:00, unshowered, I entered the bank with a coffee in hand to cure the slight hangover I had. In his thick accent Vinh welcomed me into his office. “So? What is it you want to talk about?” He asked once I sat down.
“Uuh, I don’t know. Tax free savings account?” It’s not what the initial phone call was about, but it’s something I’ve heard of and been meaning to understand. “Could you maybe help me try to figure out if that would be good for me?”
“So… What is it you will be saving for?”
“I don’t know. Just to have some savings. A safety cushion.”
“Well… What are your goals?”
“I… I guess I want to own a house one day. Actually, my parents have been talking about helping me out with a down payment.”
“Oh I don’t know. We’re still looking around. I guess it depends on the house.”
He said a bunch of things about down payments and how that works. I don’t know. Again, I didn’t really get it.
“So tax free saving account… Isn’t it a good thing? I mean what’s the difference between a normal savings account and a tax free one? Is there any downside?”
The only thing I got out of his response was that I couldn’t just take out money in an emergency situation. “It takes 24 hours,” he said. And repeated it because I probably looked dumb. “24 hours to take money out!”
“Yeah. Well. I don’t normally have any emergency situation.” I said. What I really wanted to say is, “Just set up a tax free savings account for me.”
The subject changed to overdraft. “It says your account with us comes with an overdraft which you never signed up for.”
“Really? I actually am paying for overdraft from a separate party.” Years ago, someone called when I was out of a job asking me to sign up to an overdraft service for a couple bucks a month. I have no idea who that was or how to take it off. But maybe Vinh knew. I mean, here he was right in front of me. May as well ask the guy. “If you look at my checking account you’ll see it comes out every month.”
He opened it up and looked at my history. It read liquor store, liquor store, Italian center, liquor store, McDonalds, liquor store…” He scrolled and scrolled. “Whoa, wait.” I told him. “Slow down.” He kept scrolling, scrolling, high speed scrolling.
“What are you looking for?” he asked.
“This overdraft thing I’m already paying for.”
“It’s part of your chequing account you have with us.”
“No. This is a separate thing I’m paying for from a third party.”
“How can that be? Only we can provide that.”
“Well I don’t know if third party is the right term. But someone called me years ago and I signed up. Anyway, I pay for it every month. A couple bucks.”
“No sir. That’s impossible. It says here you haven’t signed up for overdraft.”
“Ok. Whatever. Sign me up then.”
He did it and then he suggested our meeting was over. He shook my hand and I said, “Thanks.” Even though I really didn’t mean it.