Saturday, April 19, 2008

Feel free to ask me about my banking Sybil Sage

Why is it that a notary public is trusted to look at my license and then provide assurance that I am who I claim to be, yet they won't accept the word of my doorman, who's been giving me my mail and pizza deliveries for years? The photo the notary studies was taken 30 years ago and could just as easily be the woman at the next desk ordering new checks.

Is the notary supposed to protect me from an imposter? Why would anyone choose to appropriate my pension plan when they could pass themselves off as Tina Fey or Laurie Anderson and get their hands on real money and be welcomed at Nobu?

I never questioned why the bank offers this service, just as I don't ask the independent contractor opening the door at my ATM why he does it, though the paper cup he shakes conveys the message that a tip is expected. This week, the notary surprised me by saying, "We provide this service free of charge." Was this a hint that he'd like to be invited to seder? He continued, "Are you happy with the bank?"

"Sure," I answered, though I'd given it no thought and had no basis for comparison. It's possible other notaries serve cappuccino or pass around tapas, but I wouldn't know.

"When friends ask if you're pleased with your banking services," he said, "I hope you'll recommend us."

No one has ever asked me that. Questions I commonly get are, "Does your housekeeper have a free day?...What are the good restaurants in your neighborhood?...Would you teach me how to use PayPal?"

I promised him I'd do it, so feel free to ask me about my banking services.