Last week I lost my debit card.
Panic ensued as I'm normally super careful with cards and wallet and money. "Brasso Intacto Infisto" is the family motto.
It was the card for our business account which is a joint account between myself and Mrs Rine as the two partners in the business. I can't tell you what the name of the bank is but it has a reference to Father Christmas in it.
Anyway, Mrs Rine, who does all the accounts and financial dealings for the business, rang the Father Christmas bank to report the missing card. We were anxious that it hadn't fallen into the hands of n'eer-do-wells, International Identity Thieves or Russian Smugglers.
A few minutes later I heard her say, "OK, he's in the next room, I'll pass you over to him".
"They want to confirm it's you", she said, handing me the phone.
"Hello yes, it is I", I said brightly with as much enthusiasm as I could gather.
"I just need to take you through security", said the unenthusiastic voice at the other end. "Firstly, when did you open this account?".
"Er, I think....", I started looking across to Mrs Rine searchingly. (With my massive packing responsibilities and running an entire photographic studio as well I can't be expected to retain all these trivial details about our activities).
"....six years ago...", she whispered.
"OK I think it was approximately six years ago", I offered brightly.
"I'm sorry I can't accept that answer", came back Mr Monotone. "I heard a woman in the background helping you with the answer".
"That was no woman, that was my wife", I retorted as a light-hearted joke.
"I cannot accept anything other than your own independent answers. Now what is the current balance on this account?".
The mood was starting to get chillier. I looked across at Mrs Rine searchingly and gestured for her to write the answer down for me. She whispered that she would just get a pen.
At this point Mr M. from Father Christmas said "I'm sorry, I heard a woman's voice again. I can't take you through security as you have failed to answer the questions properly on your own".
Chillier to freezing. "What?!!", I said with open-mouthed incredulity (I tried closed-mouth incredulity but nothing came out). "'That woman' you keep referring to is my wife, the joint account holder of this account, the person who looks after all our banking! This is ridiculous!".
My dander was at the end of the runway at take-off speed and ready to pull the stick back.
"I'm sorry but my rules are quite clear. I can't take this any further. I am only following protocols".
"That's what the SS said".
"I can't believe you said that".
"I can't believe you are being so ludicrously pedantic. So you haven't cancelled the card at all then?"
"Oh yes. Your card is cancelled. I just can't process the application of a replacement as you have failed security".
It was at this precise point in the conversation that I noticed a small piece of rectangular coloured plastic poking out from underneath the chair next to my desk.