Open forum: Malice or Incompetence?

The easternmost point in the United States: Point Udall on the majestic island of St. Croix. (Source file photo)

I recently spent Thanksgiving on the Big Island, a welcome relief from the cold. During the visit I endured a hand written transaction to obtain my car rental, unequal ATM fees to obtain $200 dollars, and driving around the ubiquitous crater sized pot holes. But not even the welcome back jackspania bite was as painful as this experience. My mother wanted to add my name to her account she had for over 20 years, and we proceeded to the bank in West; she had been previously told my presence is required to complete this simple action.

We entered the bank around 9:30 a.m. and informed the Customer Service Rep (CSR) the purpose of our visit. I provided my military retiree ID and Maryland driver’s license. The CSR then asked, “so you don’t live here?” Then she made copies our IDs. Next, she said my mother needed to provide something with her physical address even though she provided copies of her two latest bank statements with her mailing address. Can you name any VIer who receives mail at their home address? After several fruitless exchanges we left to obtain the requested documents.

We reentered the bank around 1:00 p.m. to be handled by a different CSR. We presented the requested proof, our IDs and copies were made.  I am dark and took one look at the copies made and just shook my head. This CSR highlighted several blocks on two forms and stated she needed the information from us before she could add my name. I filled in the information and did the same for my mother because of the size of the blocks. She reviewed the information and commenced entering it. I am now debating is this malice or incompetence? Her next move made my decision when she went under her desk to rummage around. However, it was based on the following exchange — you can decide. She wanted to know was I born in East or West Germany; was I retired; was I receiving an income; was I married; and what was my spouse’s name?

Because of the poor copy quality, she asked if I could read the last two digits of my ID card. Also, she was stumped because my mother’s military ID card has indefinite instead of an expiration date. Next, she pulls up an I-9 form on her screen and that is when I reached my “no vale la pena (not worth the trouble)” point and told her to stop what she was doing and to please give me the copies of our documents. It was almost 1:45 p.m. and my youngest sister had spent at least 5 minutes with us wondering what was taking so long.

Please note my mother was not under duress, being coerced, has lived in the same house for 30 years and has had the bank account for almost as long.  During both visits we asked the CSRs several times “is all this necessary?” Additionally, during both visits the CSRs left to confer with someone in another office before decisions were made.

If these individuals attempted to impress us with their efficiency, sadly they failed. But only the insular environment of an island could these individuals smugly operate in this manner.  Because anywhere else these types of malice, business impediments or incompetence would have resulted in their termination. Please note, I still enjoy coming home!!!

Albert K. Gibbs, Germantown, Md.