The following is inspired by true events.
Dear EVAN ALLGOOD,
Thank you for trusting USAA with your banking needs. We’re relatively new at this—a little green (pardon the pun)—and you and your family are making a generous leap of faith entrusting us with your life savings, identities, etc.
Anywho! Don’t be alarmed, but: there’s an important security issue for your debit card ending in **** that we need to discuss with you. Please call us now at 1-800-951-4539.
Honestly, it’s probably nothing.
We think it’ll be fine.
Just… call us.
USAA Federal Savings Bank
OPERATOR: USAA Total Discounts for Totally Not Totaled Cars, how may I help you?
ME: Uh, I’m calling about my checking account…
OPERATOR: What the hell? Oh! Oh, the bank! Just a sec.
(45-minute wait during which Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” loops without pause)
CUSTOMER SERVICE REP: All right Mr. Allgood, my name’s Dan and I’ll be assisting you today. I just need you to answer a couple of security questions before we proceed.
ME: Sounds reasonable enough.
DAN: Could you go ahead and spell your last name for me?
ME: Uh… Yeah. First question’s a gimme, I guess… A-L-L-G-O-O-D.
DAN: Terrific. And what color shirt are you wearing right now?
ME: You want to know what I’m wearing?
DAN: Please don’t sexualize this, Mr. Allgood. Your security is very important to us.
ME: It’s gray. A gray t-shirt.
DAN: All right, you’re in!
ME: I wish you wouldn’t say it like that.
DAN: You’re totally in, Mr. Allgood. Sooooo… Do you see any charges on your account that you don’t remember making?
ME: Uh… (checking) Bar, bar, Amazon, bar. No, these are all me.
DAN: Mhm, mhm. Okay, great… Oh.
DAN: Well, most of these charges were made in Brooklyn, New York, but I’m seeing one here… Let’s see… Yep, Bangalore. Have you been to Bangalore recently, Mr. Allgood?
ME: Bangalore, India?
DAN: Correct. Did you try to purchase a celebrity cricket franchise in Bangalore last Tuesday? The… Karnataka Bulldozers?
ME: No. No, Dan, I’ve never been to India.
DAN: Okay, need to consult the old… manual here, but I’m pretty sure… Yep, okay, that is a definite red flag. Marking that down. Okay, strike one—
ME: Strike one?
ME: Why can’t I see that Bangalore charge?
DAN: Well the charge was declined—your security is very important to us, and it seemed like it might be like, bogus or something. But you can’t see declined charges, only charges that go through.
DAN: Okay, what else do we have here… Looks good… Looks good… Oh.
DAN: Mr. Allgood, when was the last time you were in Sydney?
ME: Never been to Sydney, Dan.
DAN: Are you sure you didn’t hop over there after you went to Bangalore—
ME: NEVER BEEN TO INDIA, DAN.
DAN: It’s just, the Sydney charge occurred the same day as the Bangalore one. Maybe you took a trip—
ME: Jesus christ.
DAN: Did you try to purchase a small wallaby ranch outside Sydney last…
ME: No, Dan. I’ve never been to Sydney or Bangalore.
DAN: Well that is… I mean, this is a pattern, right?
ME: It is, Dan. It is absolutely a disturbing pattern.
DAN: That’s what I thought! Okay, strike two.
DAN: Alrighty… Those look like the only… Oh.
DAN: Did you try to buy a tank of gas on the Moon last…
ME: Wait, the MOON?
ME: Is that the name of a bar? A gastropub that sells actual gas?
DAN: Incorrect. Let’s see… (googling) The Moon is the Earth’s natural satellite, orbiting at an average distance of 238,857 miles.
ME: As concerned as I am about all these charges, Dan, I feel like you may have buried the lede here. It seems we’ve colonized the Moon.
DAN: So this one… This was you—
ME: OF COURSE IT WASN’T ME, DAN.
DAN: Strike three! Oh man, this guy is totally boned.
ME: I wish I could believe you, Dan.
DAN: Okay, your security is very important to us, so I’m going to go ahead and cancel that card for you, Mr. Allgood. How does that sound?
ME: That sounds great, but—
ME: DAN. I don’t have any cash on me, and that was my only card.
DAN: Oh. Oh. Well, I could see how that could be, uh… inconvenient.
ME: How long until a new card arrives?
DAN: Seven to ten business days. But it’s already in the mail, I swear!
DAN: You did want that new card sent to Virginia, correct?
DAN: Is there anything else I can assist you with today?
ME: Could you put Billy Joel back on?
DAN: Way ahead of you.
Evan Allgood is deputy editor of Trop. His work has appeared in McSweeney’s, The Millions, Paste, Los Angeles Review of Books, Paper Darts. Read more of his work here. Follow and maybe later unfollow him on Twitter @evoooooooooooo.
Photo: Christina Ortiz