Copyright S. Bradley Stoner
I just got a notice from the bank. The Hooha State Bank down on the main drag. I get them every few months. When I do, I get depressed... or angry. Or both. Maybe I shouldn't, but I do. The notice tells me that the interest and principal on my note is due. Then they have the unmitigated gall to tell me wheat a pleasure it is to have my business. They even thank me! At least they don't tell me to "have a nice day." I'd go berserk if they did that.
A little history. I needed money a few years ago (what writer doesn't?). I heard the radio ads. Hooha was "your friendly bank," the one that wants to get to know you. It sounded like the place to go. I went. I rue the day. At Hooha State Bank I met Alfie. Alfie was the loan officer. Alfie was nice, there wasn't anything he wouldn't do for me. I liked Alfie. I couldn't understand why my neighbors used his name as a swear word. Alfie gave me my money. I was happy. Alfie was happy. Hooha was happy.
It went fine for a long time, then something soured. I am still not sure what happened, but somewhere between my May payment and my November extension, the friendly Hooha State Bank got unfriendly. Alfie lost his elevated status in my eyes and turned into a juice-man. Maybe it was the economy. But I don't remember assuming thirty percent of the national debt being in the contract I signed. By the way. can anybody out there explain the term "variable interest rate" to me?
Do you know what it's like to have to go down to the bank and plead for just a little more time? Ten times in a row? I'll tell you what it's like. Degrading. That's what it's like. Did Alfie greet me with friendly sympathy? Not a chance. How can anybody sit there impassively while a grown man is reducing himself to a total wreck before your eyes? It's horrible. I think Alfie must have been trained by the KGB. Just when you think it's all over and you'll have to go find a hole to pull in after you, he relents. He shoves a little piece of paper across the desk at you after you've given him your last dollar, and says, "Sign." You sign. It gives you another three months to come up with the balance.
Well, I just went down again. Hooha was still on the main drag. None of the other businesses were there though. Hooha had called in their loans. I went through it all over again. I pleaded. I sobbed. Alfie was unrelenting. "Take anything, Alfie... anything at all. Just don't take away my means of making a living. Don't take my Selectric."
Alfie took my car. Alfie took my suit. Alfie took my shirt. I walked home in my Fruit of the Looms to await the moving van Alfie was sending for whatever else I have of value. I think I got to him, though. I don't think he'll take my trusty old typewriter. I think I'll get to keep that.
The moving van just came. There go my tools. There goes my furniture. There goes my goldfish bowl. But, I've still got my Selectric. I'm still hammering away at it. I still have a way to make a liv....