Nope. Ainít gonna happen. Forget it. Uh-uh.
Last week, you see, due to a series of unimportant circumstances, I got my paycheck from the boss and decided to cash it rather than making a deposit. It was easier to get to the bank the check was drawn on rather than my bank, so I hopped over there right before lunch.
Iíve done this many times before. Also, as those of you who are Faithful From the Other Side Readers know, I have a sore spot in my heart for banks and financial institutions in general. This sore spot rapidly became a gaping wound Friday when I signed my check, put it and my driverís license in the drive-thru cannister and Poof! It went to the teller.
After the usual holiday pleasantries the teller asked if I had an account there, and I said no, but the check was drawn on their bank. She then said something to me I couldnít quite make out and the cannister came back to me. Inside was my check and a small container about the size of a half-dollar. I looked across the rows of drive-thru stalls at her questioningly, and she said, "I need you to put your thumb print on the front of the check."
The look on my face must have been comical because it was one of complete puzzlement. The rage would come later. "Pardon?"
"Your thumb print," she said. "I need your thumb print on the front of the check."
"What the devil for?" I asked.
"Itís company policy," she said.
I noted that it must be really new policy because I had been there a few weeks earlier and no one had asked for my thumb print. This did little to solve the problem, however, because the teller was just waiting there, looking expectant. I asked for my driverís license back and departed, Iím sure leaving the employee to wonder if I was an escaped con or a spy. It wasnít her fault, itís the company policy, she just works there, but that donít mean I gotta take it.
I pulled up at my bank and the usual holiday pleasantries came over the speaker, to which I replied, "I have been a customer of yours for 14 years, are you going to ask me for a thumb print to cash this check?" They did not, and I everything was fine and I then went on my way, but in a nasty mood.
Now, pay attention closely here, because Iím only going to say this once: Itís bad enough that they track my buying habits through my cards; itís a foul, foul circumstance that I have to give my driverís license to cash a check in my own hometown, but hear this and hear it clearly:
They ainít getting my thumb print, finger print, palm print, retina scan or hair sample and I ainít gonna tinkle in a cup for you, either, ya folla?
The nerve of some people.
Listen up, Iím not a criminal, I am not doing drugs and until you have reasonable suspicions that I am, my various prints, body parts and fluids are my property. Just like, by the way, that check that was written out to me. I do not give thumb prints to get my money from the bank.
"But itís for your own protection," someone tried to explain to me.
From who? Letís go over it again: Itís my money, the check was written to me. Why do they need a thumb print to protect me from myself? While it may be true that I could use a good dose of common sense and frugality with my finances, I still donít think itís worth a thumb print in the CIA database. I donít want Michael Chertoff thumbing through my DNA or, for Godís sake, George W. Bush reading my emails and finding out where all my best fishing holes are.
"But, what if someone else got your check and cashed it?" was the reply.
Sorry, that dog wonít hunt. They didnít get IDíd? Not my problem, thatís the bankís. I always give my ID, even though it disgruntles the heck out of me. Some clown walks in with my check and cashes it without an ID, well, thatís just tough luck on the bankís part. If he presents an ID with my exact name and mugshot on it, well, the poor slob is gonna have a rought time of it in life anyway, just like me.
Now, to make matters worse, I come down with a cold Christmas Day, but manage to get through until Monday when I go to get some medicine. I could barely breathe and my face felt like an overinflated balloon. Instead of my usual misery-relief medicine on the shelf, they got a card that I have to take to the cashier. I could smell a fight coming, but did it anyway.
First, she had to get my driverís license. I thought about arguing, but decided that it was kinda like cashing a check, so I gave it to her. Then she pounded on the touch-screen that I couldnít see for about five minutes and asked for my phone number.
"What the devil for?" I demanded.
"Itís company policy," she said.
"What, Iím going to get a Ďget wellí call from the CEO?"
"You have my driverís license. You have my address. If I turn out to be a drug pusher whoís getting kids hooked on Sudafed, are you gonna give the cops my phone number so they call me first to make sure Iím home so they can come arrest me?"
I gave her a fake phone number, so Iím sure Iíll get the FBIís attention and theyíll put wiretaps on my real phone and monitor my email, but who gives a rip? I paid with cash instead of my card just to be onery. Trace that.
I am not going to be treated like a criminal, sorry, corporate America and U.S. Government. I ainít done nothing wrong. I wonít be printed, sorted or catalogued. I wonít be analyzed, cross-referenced or digitized. You ainít putting a transducer implant in my earlobe to locate me. Iím not a number, a dataset or a profile. My DNA double-helix sequence is private, thank you very much. I got a name, it was my daddyís name, and his daddyís before him, and none of them were criminals as far back as Iíve cared to dig up the olí family tree, though I did locate some references to moonshine, but that was an awful long time ago.
Thumb prints to cash a check. The nerve.