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July 5, 2011

Our own sense of righteousness

Yesterday I went to the bank, the machine ate my card, and told me to report to the teller. The teller was at a loss to explain why this had happened, but figured perhaps my card had been compromised. “It’s a safety feature,” he told me, and I thought, “Yeah, some feature.” Tapping my feet, and anxious to get back outdoors, because this withdrawal had turned into a lengthy process.

So I got a new bank card, and spent the rest of my day. And then tonight I tried to do some banking online, and my card was rejected again. I had to call Customer Service, and I explained my situation. They told me the number on my bank card was for a cancelled card, that I’d gotten my new card and my old card mixed up.

“That’s impossible,” I said. “Your machine ate my old card. This card here is the only one I have.” Well, they didn’t know what to tell me. They were very polite, and I was polite too, but I was seriously annoyed at the bureaucratic idiocy. At how my time was being wasted. I found the paperwork that had come with the new card, and the number was different from the card I was holding. Indeed, the number on the paperwork was what my new card number should have been. “Well, then the number on the card is wrong,” I said. “There has been a mix-up. And now I’m going to have to go down to the bank and get it sorted.”

“Are you sure it’s the number on the card? The card you’re holding in your hand.”
“There is no other card,” I told them. “I told you that already.”

And this was the point at which I did a further exploration of my wallet (which is often being rearranged by someone who is small), and came up with another bank card. The bank card I should have been using. And somehow I had two bank cards after all, and I’d gotten them confused. (How had this happened? Well, these are the mistakes that occur when you keep old, old bank cards for small people to play with. We’ve since discerned that the old, old bank card was used in the machine, retained because it was cancelled, when I went to the teller, he cancelled my current bank card, and gave me a new one. I didn’t bother explaining this to the customer service representative. Instead, I got off the phone really quickly. And then I called back later to apologize, and to make sure a note was put in that representative’s file so they’d know he was terribly patient with the stupid lady.)

Also, this morning a woman shouted at me from across the street for putting dog waste in somebody’s green bin. “I hope that was in a bag,” she said. I was confused. She yelled at me some more, gesturing toward the bin. “…whatever it was you put in there.”

“I didn’t put anything in there,” I told her. I had moved it out of the way so I could push my stroller by, and she’d heard the lid clatter, and assumed I was performing illegal acts of dumping. She felt pretty stupid once she’d realized her mistake, and quite rightly. Mostly because what kind of a person goes around dumping dog waste when they don’t even have a dog?

Anyway, the whole point of this is to say that half the time, none of us know what we’re talking about, even when we think we do. Which is probably something to keep in mind whenever we’re overwhelmed by our own sense of righteousness.

3 thoughts on “Our own sense of righteousness”

  1. So very very true. This happened to me on a boat ride back from some islands near Mumbai. It was nearing dusk, and I was tired, and sitting by the boat rail. A kid kept running past me with empty packets of chips in his hand, right to the edge of the rail behind a narrow pillar that briefly blocked my vision of him. He would return from the rail empty-handed. Indians don’t have the best civic sense when it comes to littering (I put this mildly), even if we do have an incredible recycling industry. So I took it upon myself to call out to him the next time he passed by, to say, “You shouldn’t throw garbage off the boat and into the sea.” Startled, he said, “No, aunty, I was throwing it in there.” He pointed to the pillar, and behind it, out of my vision, was a garbage bin, where he had been conscientiously putting all the refuse his family generated with their evening snacking. I felt mighty stupid.

  2. Lauren says:

    I can relate to this, big time. I’ve spent my 21 years not knowing what the heck I’m talking about half the time, and as I’ve gotten older, I like to think that I know more of what’s going on than I really do, which kind of makes me look like a doofus occasionally. That’s why, I’ve started just keeping mum about things that I don’t know anything about. Like the recent Casey Anthony case – I kept my mouth shut when everyone went bonkers at work because she got acquitted on all charges except for lying to the police. I haven’t been following the case, so I didn’t want to display any ignorant statements to my co-workers. I did, however, discuss the situation with them, just without much opinion.

  3. Drea says:

    Love this- thank you! =)

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