The Hellhole

Thursday, February 13, 2014


On a Sunday a couple weeks ago, we were en route to the grocery store for our weekly re-provisioning.  There is a gas station across from the grocery store and I asked Alan to stop and fill my gas tank, so I wouldn't have to do it when commuting the next morning.  He obligingly did, but the "pay at the pump" option refused to accept his debit card.  He had to go inside, but once there his debit card was declined repeatedly.  He charged the gas purchase, returned to the car and reported.

It is a personality flaw of mine that I freak out with worry, fear and anxiety far out of proportion to the incident.  I often worry myself silly over things that haven't even happened yet, and often never come to pass.  Such was the case that Sunday - oh no!  I'd made some mistake and our account was overdrawn! Alan's debit card had been compromised and some nefarious villain had emptied our account!  OH NOES!  THE HORROR!  And all this at a time when we needed groceries!  What would we do??? We would staaaaarve!!!

On a purely intellectual level, of course we had plenty of money for groceries in savings and plenty of room on several credit cards if we had to charge the purchase, so we weren't gonna starve.  If I'd made some colossal error, all we could do would be to cope with it and move on with our lives, and if his card had been compromised like it was last November, Wells Fargo would deal with it, restore our money and replace his card.  Still, I was panicking and near tears as I tried to access Wells Fargo online via my iPhone to view our account.  Every second that it took pages to load, passwords to process and data to appear increased my terror.

When I FINALLY was able to view our account, which took forever - and by "forever" I mean "the entire time it took for Alan to leave the gas station, drive across the street and park" - it was a puzzler.  There was plenty of money in our account, no unrecognized purchases and no reason for the gas station to have declined his card.  We did our shopping and when paying - not on purpose, it just shook out that way - I used my debit card which went through fine.  We assumed there was something wrong with the gas station's card reader or connection, went home and gave it no further thought.

On Tuesday, I was at work when I got a phone call from Alan.  "Guess what, sweetie?" he said. "I know why my debit card wouldn't work."

"Why's that?" I asked, a frisson of fear tickling my heart.

"Because the name on it is Matthew D. [Lastname]!" he announced.

Earlier in the day, Matt had been out shopping and his debit card was declined.  He came home, consulted with his wife Tammy who, like me on Sunday, confirmed that they had available funds.  Therefore, Matt called Wells Fargo and was waiting in the hold queue in outrage [okay, he probably was not in outrage because Matt is a pretty laid-back, easygoing guy, but I find it funnier, and therefore use poetic license, to portray him as being in outrage] when he thought to himself, "I'm going to need to give them the card number at some point,", flipped it over from the back, where he'd accessed their 800 number, and saw that the name on the card was Alan's.

We had gone out to lunch together on the Saturday, and apparently the waiter had put the cards into the wrong folders when he returned them to us - he swiped them correctly, though; we'd paid the right checks.  So Alan and Matt were both out and about putting in their own PINs while using the other's debit card. And since we all bank with Wells Fargo, it wasn't until Matt was on the phone to investigate that anyone noticed!


  • I am glad everything worked out well!basil

    By Blogger basil, at 9:18 AM  

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