I am a bit late this morning. I seem to have overslept but after all, what the hell. It is Saturday, and you know how worried I was that I would not get the money from my bank in the UK in time to pay for my room for another month; I just made it.

It has cost me a “bomb,” but thank God I am still here because things seem very strange, and you know how nosey I am – Parker has nothing on me!

Armed with my International Money Order from Barclays International in no less a place than the United Kingdom, I had to leave Touhy Avenue to find a bank, which is strange for one thing. An area like Niles should be overrun with banks. What’s more, post offices are not well represented either, and if they are, they must be in some backstreets because I have never seen any, but that is another story.

More importantly, I am supposed to be writing this on the last day of my first month. Today is the day I would be told to leave. My package was delivered by Federal Express sometime between 9.30 am to 10.30 am. I was here all along, except for a brief call to the bank in London and a return call to me, which did not take more than four minutes altogether. The package required my signature. That was quite clear. I was here in the room. I had told them downstairs that the first registered letter containing 2,000 dollars did not get to me.

The receptionist said, “they” are authorised to sign for packages addressed to residents. I told her that people should sign for and accept their own recorded delivery mail. She said I might have been out. I told her that did not matter. The delivery person is supposed to leave a note and come back with the item another time. She said she would not accept any more letters for me. I said, good. Nonetheless, she signed for my latest package while I was up here waiting for it.

Some many minutes later while I was watching The Price is Right, the phone rang. “This is Rosemary,” the voice said, “I signed for your package.” I was so angry, Jim, I could have burst a blood vessel. I told her that she had no right. She said I was on the phone. I was only on it for a short time, I told her. She said she could not get me. Of course, that could only have been the time when the bank rang to say, Federal Express would bring the package about 11 am my time, and the man was just on the phone for a minute. It was before I turned over to watch the start of The Price is Right, and the programme was well on its way before she called me.

If I had gone out in the meantime and returned when she had gone home, and if she did not come in today and it was too large an object to go in the little cubby hole, I would have had to leave the hotel because I have no money, and they know it. In my case, as they’ve been spying on me, the object of the exercise is for me to leave Niles pronto. That is even more important to them than stealing my cash. There is so much wrong in this place of Lincoln alone it is just not funny.

I noticed too that pavements are popping up all over the place, and that brings me to my day at the bank yesterday. Although I have not spotted a bank in the Mall during the four weeks I have been here. As soon as The Price is Right finished, I set off for the Mall, still fuming because the “desk” had signed for a personal delivery recorded package. I saw currency exchanges and the odd small bank along the way, but I wanted a bank in the heart of the Shopping Mall.

When I walked through Penny’s into the middle, I could not see any bank, so I asked a shopkeeper, and he pointed across the road from Mall at Entrance 8. I went through the doors and discovered that the Mall does not only consist of Kohl’s, Sears and Pennys, as the free Niles bus would have us believe. There was a pretty good supermarket there, too, but still, I could not see a bank. I then saw some Mexicans, and I asked them if there was a bank anywhere around here. They looked blankly at me although I had heard them speaking English earlier.

I then saw a woman pushing a cart, she was white and looked local, and she pointed to a structure way on the other side. To get to this structure, which had ‘something of America’ written above it, one has to run the risk of being run over in the car park servicing the supermarket and adjacent stores. After carefully skirting danger, one has to step over a fully turfed area, cross a road, and walk towards a beautiful building, which houses the bank.

Woman with umbrella outside Bank of America

Would you say that made good business sense for the great US of A, Jimmy? Believe me; the whole thing is like traversing the contours of a giant maze. When I finally got to the bank, the inside was sumptuous, of course. I went up to the receptionist and very carefully explained to her my circumstances and the reason for entering the bank today. Naturally, I assumed that with a name like Bank of America, it was at least representing North America, but that was just a façade.

The receptionist sent me to the left. She said I had to see some person about something called “collection,” and on my way, a very elegant, well-built lady, who looked remarkably like Mrs Brody, passed me on her way out. I thought she was a customer, but it turned out that she was, in fact, the manager. This lady they had sent me to, an Indian, really deals with something called “license,” and she was not listening to what I was saying at all. However, she started to take my money order to someone to find out what I should do, but I wasn’t letting it out of my sight. Up to this point, which was about half-an-hour after arriving at the bank, no one had asked me my name or anything.

There was one woman in a white jacket who followed me to this Indian lady, and she began to tell me just why this woman would come back to propose that I go to places downtown, where they cash such cheques, but I politely, although not to softly, told her to mind her own business. She said “that is all we need, belligerence,” but I thought she was out of order to be following me around the bank like some store detective and providing advice that I didn’t need or request of her. It seems the Indian went to call the Teller Manager, a Mr Patrick Brenan, and he proceeded to inform me that their policy was to only cash cheques for existing customers. Since I was not a customer, he said, they were unable to help me.

Well, that’s no way for a bank to do business, I told him. “The money order might be forged,” he said. That should be no problem; I pointed out. Since I have all the details of the payee, which is myself, and the sender, which is my bank in London, and I also have my passport with me for identification. If I was going to be that bold, perhaps he could do the country a service by helping to catch a crook.

He had no answer to that so he smiled, and said, he would allow me to open an account. However, I could not withdraw all the money. I told him that I only needed enough cash today to pay my hotel bill. So he asked me to sit and wait a while for the manager who was currently at lunch. It was by then about 12.45 pm, and I was quite curious to see who managed such a place.

At about 1.15 pm, the well-dressed lady I had seen going out came through the doors, and the receptionist pointed me out to her. I had completed the application form they had given me by then and had seen the likes of it before when I opened my Capital Advantage Account in London. Although I was newly off the prescribed drugs at that time, I still had a vague idea that something about the form was not quite right. But I was not thinking clearly, and all I wanted then was to get away from England at all cost. However, the form I had completed back then always bothered me even in those hazy days.

This form today also had two sides, “Applicant A” and “Applicant B.” Of course, there was no “Applicant B” in my case. So, I did what I should have done in London and drew a line across that section. Since I am the one opening the account and not my mother, I saw no need to mention her name at all, let alone her maiden name. In London, I deliberately gave a wrong maiden name for my mother as I knew that if my kids survived me, they at least could prove their grandmother’s maiden name.

The bank also asked for other accounts and investments that are nothing to do with them. There is no reason why they should know your entire life story just to open a new checking account. Can you imagine what a friendly Enquirer could ferret out of a lonely old lady who he knows has no near dependents? Jimmy, you do not have to be an expert to figure out things.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I came out of that building feeling a great deal better than I did when I walked in. I will do my best not to let the bank down. I promised never to spend more than I have, but it just goes to show that stupid rules exist to be broken, if you are strong enough and have the guts to stand up for what is right. After all, I could have been the wife of a Nigerian Ambassador with millions of dollars to invest, and this $2,000 could have been only to open the account.

Bye Jimmy, lad. Take care.
Yours as ever.

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