So, I’m having an identity crisis.

A couple of days ago I lost my debit card.  It’s possible I mailed it to my editor along with a CD copy of my author photo.  It’s possible it got stolen by Red Lektrons.  It’s possible it’s fallen through a hole in the fabric of reality.  I’ve heard something about eddies in the space-time continuum.  Maybe he’s got it.  The point is, I don’t anymore.

After searching everywhere for two days, I gave in and decided to report it missing and ask for a new one.  First, though, I wanted to update my mailing address to my new P.O. Box address, because having a debit card sitting in a locked box that only I have a key to sounded safer than having a debit card sitting in an unlocked box on a country road half a mile away and not in sight of any house.  Changing your address and then asking for a new card, though, apparently triggers special security checks, and here’s where it all went, as I understand our Brit friends to say, pear-shaped.

I understand the need for extra security.  I do.  But there’s security and then there’s SECURITY!

After logging onto the website with my user name and secret password and both parents’ middle names and my high school mascot I filled out the “lost card” form and hit send.  It gave me a security warning in big, red letters and a phone number to call to complete the report.

I called the number and got a young woman who was, I’m sure, perfectly lovely and whose grasp of English is undoubtedly much better than my grasp of whatever her native language is.  But … I couldn’t understand her!

This is a pet peeve of mine.  First, I have nothing against anyone in any country, but American businesses that want Americans to support them should not outsource jobs overseas.  Secondly, they’re outsourcing their customer service to people who do not speak the same native tongue as the majority of their customers. Also, most of the phone bank outsourcing seems to involve people whose native language is inflected.  They tend to speak English with an inflection, which makes it harder to understand.  Add in the fact that the telephone compresses and distorts sound slightly (I’m not certain of the mechanics) and it makes for a very difficult conversation.

When you are in contact with a business’ customer service department, the burden of communicating falls on the business.  If the person on the other end of the phone is unable to communicate clearly for any reason, it is the business that has fallen short.

Long story short (I know! “Too late!”) I failed my identity verification quiz.  After correctly providing my name, home address, date of birth, and social security number, I was unable to recall what color car I was driving eight years ago when I set up the account,* I didn’t (and don’t) know if my social security card was issued in the state I was born in or the state I lived in when I got it, and even after making her repeat them six or seven times, I couldn’t understand the list of addresses she was reading me to see if I could remember living at one of them more than a quarter of a century ago when I was in college.

The upshot is that they’ve closed my account and they’re going to mail me a check … at the same P.O. Box address they’re unwilling to mail a new card to.

So if it’s seemed like I’m not myself today, that may very well be the case.  I don’t know exactly who I am, but I am sure of one thing.  If I ever find that card, I’m going to salt and burn the damned thing!

*Actually, I didn’t remember what color “the Ciera” was.  I confused the Ciera with the Cavalier.  I’m not a car person and we’re talking three cars ago — four if you count the van my niece gave me that lasted about three weeks and almost got me arrested ….