A funny thing happened on my way to the psychiatrist; someone stole my identity. But the good news is I wound up getting 50,000 free frequent flyer miles from my stolen credit card.
It all started when my teenage son got a job as a bus boy at The Legends of Meat restaurant in Cornucopia Village, the new corporate chain shopping mall that’s designed to remind people what shopping was like down on Main Street, before all the mom & pop stores went bankrupt. Cornucopia Village is like Disney World, but without the rides, music, or fun of shaking hands with eight-foot tall cartoon characters. Instead, visitors wait in long snaking lines in a faux-village setting to eat lunch, buy designer clothes (made by efficient offshore labor), or receive free home remodeling and plastic surgery consultations.
Like everything at Cornucopia Village, bus boys aren’t supposed to look like themselves, as it would make the upscale clientele uncomfortable to be waited on by youths wearing the latest hoodlum and gangster fashions. So The Legends of Meat has their bus boys dress like eager young businessmen, in white shirts with black ties, while hauling away dirty dishes and silverware in oversized briefcases. Since my son has never been a young businessman, I lent him my credit card to go shopping for his new uniform.
That night I got a call from my bank’s fraud department concerning unusual activity going on in my credit card account. After I’d been thoroughly vetted, and proved I knew my mother’s maiden name, my cat’s maiden name, and my bank’s Bermuda shell corporation’s secret identity, I was told the reason for the urgent call: Someone using my credit card had purchased a tie!
My bank knows me intimately, even though every time I walk in to cash my paycheck they ask me for my ID, to prove I’m still the same person I was the week before. Knowing my foibles and habits, the bank instantly realized that in the 15 years since they started keeping track of my every move (and every trip, and every purchase, and every late payment) I have never once purchased a tie.
The super-sleuths at bank headquarters figured either I was plotting to be someone I’m not, or someone I’m not was pretending to be me. In either case they suspended my credit card until I could come up with a explanation of why, all of a sudden, I needed a tie.
Like my son, I am not a young businessman, and have never been a young businessman, or rather, when I was young I was not a businessman, and now that I am a businessman I am not young. But beyond that I never wear a tie, because I don’t like the feeling of having a rope around my neck. My psychic says this is due to a bad experience I had in a recent past life, which may have also involved a bank.
I finally convinced the bank that everything was OK, and they should continue to allow me to go into debt, until such time as I owed much more money than I could ever possibly pay back, and needed to beg them to raise my credit limit or repossess my house. However, at the time of my assurances to their fraud department, I didn’t actually have my credit card. I thought my son had it, but couldn’t bother him because he was at work clearing dirty dishes of Cornucopia Villagers, Atkins dieting on huge platters of charcoal broiled farm animals, after hunger inducing days of pumping gas into their SUVs and trekking from one end of the mall to the other buying overpriced merchandise from seven continents.
Unbeknownst to me, my son had left my credit card on the counter of the store where he had bought his tie. The glittering gold card had attracted the attention of another would-be shopper, who immediately saw the potential advantages of pretending to be me. If he were me he could book himself rooms in boutique hotels, and drink all the mini-bottles in the mini-bar. He could buy tickets to sporting events, then change his mind about going, and scalp them for half-price. Most importantly, if he were me he could spend the money I didn’t have, instead of the money that he didn’t have.
It was several days and several mini-bars before I realized that I was not who I thought I was. Due to my state of despair and confusion, I went to a psychiatrist and told him, “I’m so worried. I’ve started talking to myself.”
“That’s not unusual,” the doctor said, “millions of normal people talk to themselves.”
“I know,” I told him, “but recently someone stole my identity. Now I find myself talking constantly, but nobody is listening to a word I say!”