And I don't mean that in a good way.
Yesterday was my first full day in Phoenix Austin. (My mother is upset that I reveal so much personal information on the internet.) I dropped my pops off at the airport and went grocery shopping. On my to-do list was buying a TV and DVD player so when the cable guys arrived later that afternoon, they would have something to hook up.
First I went to Walmart, since I still have that gift card I got from exchanging some presents. Unfortunately, Walmart may have always low prices (always), but they don't especially have those items in stock. The size TV I wanted was gone. The TV a size smaller was all gone. The only TV available was one that could double as a king-size bed. (I'll be honest, I considered it.)
So I settled on just getting the DVD player, but as I was checking out my credit card was declined. (Whaaaaa?) I was frustrated, since I knew there was no earthly way my credit wasn't good, but I pulled out the debit card and paid so I wouldn't hold up the line. (Also, in this hubbub, I forgot to use the effing gift card, so another trip to Walmart is tragically a part of my future.) As I was leaving, an elderly gent stopped me to say the same thing happened to him all the time, and share his belief that Walmart is running some sort of conspiracy designed to force people to pay with cash or debit. I would say this is crazy, but as my friendster Nelson helpfully pointed out later*, Walmart doesn't exactly have a reputation for the most reliable clientele.
Then I went to Costco, where I got my VERY FIRST COSTCO MEMBERSHIP. (Tear.) And thankfully, the TV I have been secretly lusting over for the last month or so was in stock, and way cheaper than the Walmart counterpart.
I made my way to the front of the line, thinking of all the good times this TV and I were going to have together, and pulled out my debit card to pay
At this point, I was just humiliated. I mean, I was standing next to a hand truck with a flat panel TV on it -- how ballsy do you have to be to try to scam that situation? As I frantically called my bank, mouthing to various employees and passersby, I'm so sorry, I totally do have the money (not sure why I felt compelled to tell people that), my face just turned brighter and brighter red. I called the cable company to cancel my hookup, and went over to my bank to try to straighten this situation out in person.
I was explaining to the customer service rep that both my credit card and debit card had been declined, and he distinctly made a judgy face at me. Seriously -- the guy I entrust with my money is secretly displeased with how I spend it. (Ahem. And for the record, I don't spend it unwisely.) (Well, at least not terribly unwisely.) Another bank employee came over to try to figure out the problem, and he very helpfully told me I shouldn't be having any troubles -- both my cards were active, neither had exceeded their limit. (Um, yeah, I know. That's why I'm here.) Service Rep said he couldn't figure out the problem from the branch, but if I would follow him to his office, he would call headquarters and work out the problem.
As I was sitting there on hold, Service Rep asked me if I was from Salt Lake City. He had seen my Utah drivers' license, so I figured that wasn't too creepy of a question. "Yes," I said, trying to avoid further conversation with the person who had judged me for getting my cards declined.
"Are you LDS?"
At this point, I wasn't really sure how to respond, but slowly said, "Yeeees." When Service Rep smiled instead of making a second judgy face, I asked, "Are you?"
"Yes," he said proudly. "Did you move here for school or work?"
"Um, work," I said hesitantly, still not wanting to get into a conversation. But get into a conversation I did.
(By the way, his response to my answer that I did not serve a mission? Judgy face.)
At one point he asked me where I lived, and since I figured he was staring at all my financials on his computer screen anyway, I told him. He thought for a second, and then informed me (from memory) which ward and which chapel I was assigned to. "Wow," I said, honestly impressed. "How did you know that?"
"I'm in the branch presidency," he explained. And then proceeded to grill me.
Do I attend church every week? (Real answer: No.) My answer? "Well, I only got here yesterday," I said with a smile.
I swallowed. (At this point, I was actually more worried about what he might do to my money should I displease him.) "Um, I try to," I said, which is mostly the truth. (If by "try," you mean "don't actively not try," sure. Look, I just believe in taking personal days here and there, all right?)
Am I going this Sunday?
"Yes," I said firmly, because this one is at least completely true.
Am I married?
"No," I said. (Too much personal information, Mom?)
He shrugged, as if this were completely irrelevant. (And here I was expecting another judgy face.) "There are lots of good people in your ward," he said.
"Good to know," I said weakly, wondering if he also had their addresses memorized.
Long story short -- the customer service reps at headquarters very helpfully concluded that the problem must be Walmart and Costco's, since my accounts were fine. Since that was obviously not true (both stores had the same problem?), I withdrew the money and went back to Costco to pay cash.
As I was leaving the bank, Service Rep yelled across the lobby, "Make sure you go to church on Sunday!"**
The rest of the story: To be continued ...
* Via phone. Still don't have too many friends here in Austin ... but give it time.
** Seriously, I hope he harasses enthusiastically fellowships every Mormon who walks into the bank, because otherwise, what does that say about me? It's like he was a Mormon Jedi Master, and he sensed that the Force was weak with me, or something.