A 96-year-old American woman writing to her bank manager, who thought her letter was so good that he sent it to the New York Times …
I am writing to thank you for bouncing the cheque with which I endeavoured to pay my plumber last month.
By my calculations, three nanoseconds must have elapsed between his presenting the cheque and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honour it. I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my entire income, an arrangement which I admit has been in place for only eight years.
You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account $30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank. My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways.
I noticed that whereas I personally attended to your telephone calls and letters, when I try to contact you I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, prerecorded, faceless entity your bank has become.
From now on I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh and blood person. My mortgage and loan repayments will therefore no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank by cheque, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee nominated by you.
Please find attached an Application Contact Status which I require your employee to complete. I am sorry it runs to eight pages but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative. Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Notary Public, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documentary proof. In due course I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but again I have modelled it on the number of button-presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service.
As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Let me level the playing field even further. When you call me, press the buttons as follows:
1. To make an appointment to see me
2. To query a missing payment
3. To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there
4. To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping
5. To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature
6. To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home
7. To leave a message on my computer. A password is required to access my computer. The password will be communicated at a later date to your Authorised Contact Person
8. To return to the main menu and listen to options 1 through 7 again
9. To make a general complaint or query. The contact will then be put on hold pending the attention of my automated answering service
While this may on occasion involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call. Regrettably, but again following your own example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the cost of setting up this new arrangement.
May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous, New Year?
Your Humble Client"
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