I am emboldened by opportunity. I am one of a gazillion American homeowners trying to stay on top of my mortgage and all it's shenanigans as it changes shape faster than Kirstie Alley on reality TV.
I read everything. Directions. Ingedients. The trades. The Times in NY and LA. Fine print. Side effects on pharmaceutical ads. So, when reading how we Americans bailed out the banking industry and how our government is on top of them to do right I decide to call my bank and get a little slice of the pie I baked, paid for and sliced.
So I call my bank...let's just call them...Bank of Airheads...or BofA for short. I have a weird, monstrous loan, that I didn't understand when I got into it, but I understand much better now that I have received the 932,000 items in the mail explaining my loan to me. Now I get it completely, if only Russian were my native tongue - cause that's what it looks like to me folks. Cyrillic writing. As far as I can tell, and this is ALL I can tell, the punctuation is brilliant.
I ring the bank up and get the cheery announcement - happy that some voice over person is working and then immediately wondering why I didn't go up for it - to hold on because my business is very important to them. I never believe that. Because if my business were important to them, I would have gotten a birthday card. Nonetheless, I am willing to let that pass (for the time being) as I hold for a loan servicer. The word servicer leaves a little guck taste in my mouth. Servicer. I don't even want to go there. I'm hyped up on coffee, good carbs and desperation - and if I get side-tracked I will never reach my goal. So I brush that thought aside...after I write it down.
Click. Click. Clack. Music interrupted. I wonder if The Red Hot Chili Peppers know that someone re-recorded "Snow" while high and quite possibly dead, but most certainly slightly talented.
"Hello. Is this the party to whom I am speaking?"
I don't know what to say. I truly don't. Well. I do. But I know I'm being recorded. But I'm so dumbfounded to hear Ernestine the Operator from Laugn-In I say,
"I don't know, is it?"
This stumps her. She regroups and asks,
"For security purposes, can I have your name and last four of your social?"
"Can I have yours?"
"Why do you need mine?"
"Why do you need mine?"
"Because Miss. Because I need to access your file."
"But how do you know you need to access my file, you don't even know why I am calling? There isn't a stitch in there about any prior arrest for any disorderly conduct, and if he had only listened to me explain why I was speeding I would never have gotten out of my car. And you haven't introduced yourself. You know, you're supposed to give your stage name to those of us calling about our loans. Unless, you know, because you've written so many bad ones, including those that are no longer legal in the state of California (only I say it in my Arnold Schwarzenegger voice, Gall-ee-vor-neeya), you get a little afraid that someone might come and look you up..."
"How can I help you, ma'am?"
"By going back to Miss for starters. And I hope you can. I've called about my loan. Do you need the loan number so you can access my file?"
"Can you hold a second please?"
"As a matter of fact, I would prefer not...hello?..."
Tall and tan and long and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking. And each time she walks all blah blah the men go blaaaahhh.... Right now, he's probably standing up behind her showing her how to shoot a combo, but he don't know... If ever I would leave you, it wouldn't be in blah blah... Come to believe I better not leave before I blah blah to ride... 'Scuse me while I kiss the sky... I just haven't met you yet...Stanley Tucci...
"Hi this is Thomas. How can I help you?"
"Thomas, what happened to the nice nameless lady I was speaking to?"
"You were turned over to me. Now is there something I can help you with?
"Why, do you know Stanley Tucci? Kidding. As a matter of fact I've been kidding all along, but I am about to get quite serious. Have you seen the new collection at Saks - who is buying for them?!"
"Miss Milo. Thank you for going back to Miss, by the way. I do look fabulous and I like when that is reflected in my personal address. It makes me really happy."
"Well we are all here to make you happy, Miss Milo."
"Glad to hear that. Glad that is on tape. Because here is exactly how you can make me happy. I want my margin spread to come down from 2.5 points to 1. I want my interest rate to reflect the current market rate - dropping a solid 2 points. And I want a refund of the usurious interest charged to my loan over a loan I did not understand and is no longer viable for the property it was written for. How's that? Can you make me happy, Thomas? Think we can wrap this up today, or do I need to listen to some Hot 100 tunes?"
Peg I will come back to you... Ever since I met 'ya, seems I can't forget 'ya... Reunited and it feels so good, reunited cause we understood... Baby we can talk all night, but that ain't getting us nowhere, I told you everything I possibly can...
"Miss Milo, we are going to need your income tax returns for the last three years, plus all W2s, a profit and loss statement and copies of your last three paychecks to go any further on this today."
"All without knowing my loan number?"
Silence. Then click. Click. Clack.
"Is someone joining us on the line, Thomas? And remember, you have to answer honestly because this is being taped - and you don't want an 'i' un-dotted in case you really have to help me here. You know, God forbid you guys should simply not make as MUCH on my loan as you can and I can end up keeping both arms and both legs AND my house. Wouldn't that be great? Wouldn't that be helping me? Wouldn't that be what my people would have wanted when we gave you all the taxpayer money to stay in business?"
"This is Mrs. Simmons, I'm a supervisor here. How can I help you?"
"Is this a rhetorical question? I mean, can't you just replay the tape you've made over the last...oh...55 minutes?"
"Miss Milo, under the federal program for loan modification we need the items requested before we can go further. How long do you think it will take you to compile these documents and send them to us?"
"Do you have a fax? I have everything right here. Because this is the fifth time I have called and been asked for the same documents - only this time, without being asked for my account number. So I'm thinking either you guys have a picture of me under the word STALL - or this is a huge run-around. I bet you if you ask me my account number, you will see you have everything you need to make a determination. All I need Mrs. Simmons is a yes."
"I'm sorry to do this to you. Would you please hold."
It wasn't a question. Click. Click. Clack.
"Thank you for calling Bank of Airheads Home Loan Processing Center. Your call is very important to us. Please listen to the following menu. Para asistencia en espanol, oprima numero dos."
I press numero dos. I am nothing if not emboldened by the opportunity to be hung up on again.
You know you love me...Candi