May I let my voice be a clarion call. I will use these words for justice. I will use these words for truth. And humour.

Saturday, August 6, 2005



Guest Post

I wrote this early yesterday morning, and I think it fits well here. Since Joel is busy living out of a suitcase and boxes for a bit, it seems like a good time to use/abuse my blog membership privileges.


colors: maroon
mood: at the time I wrote this, bemused and a little cranky; now, restless and somewhat bored.
starpower: 3.1415 thurstons
chant/prayer/mantra: "step down into sand, water carries us from here"

6:12am - The phone rings, jolting me out of a dream, and I scramble to answer it. If someone calls this early it is probably from the mainland, and probably important.

The woman on the phone sounds exactly like one of the characters from the movie Fargo. She's from the Linolakes State Bank, in Linolakes, Minnesota, and is calling to tell me that the fax I sent yesterday of my drivers license turned out really dark and therefore she can't use it. My father is setting up a joint bank account with myself and my brother on it as well, and so, as a matter of security ("Yuh know, that new Patriot Act?" in the words of my father), I need to provide the bank with a copy of my ID. He chose this bank, in a small town north of Minneapolis, because they gave him a better rate.

Anyway, she asked if I could just take a picture of my ID and mail it to her. I suggested that I just email the picture to her, but she informed me that her computer doesn't have email on it. "But doesn't the bank have an email address I could send it to?" I inquired. "The reason I ask is because I only own a digital camera, so it will already be electronic, and it would be a lot more work to print it out and mail it to you."

She checked with her boss, who reluctantly agreed, as long as I put "Attn: [employee name]" in the subject line so they can pull it off for her. She then started giving me the email address. "It's www of" Something tells me that this employee doesn't do a lot of email, and that they're not really used to customers contacting them electronically. I can imagine a conversation with the bank's website designer: "Do ya really think we need an email address? If ya say we do, okay, but I don't think we'll ever use it..." Her second recitation (upon my request) produced an email address that at least had an "@" symbol in it, but I double checked on their website anyway.

So I photographed my drivers license using the macro settings of the camera - note that just any old photo of the license would either be too small or too blurry for her to read the information, so I have no idea what she is thinking. I suspect that this is the very first account she has had to set up post-Patriot Act with an out-of-town client. I re-sized and edited the picture in photoshop, resisted the urge to replace the normal photo with the one of me with nine eyes on my head, and mailed it off.

But let's pause for a moment and think about this. You can see the logic at work here - a law, sent from on high, tells them they must see proof of identification (in the form of a valid ID such as drivers license or, though this bank would never think of it, probably a passport too), and so they request it from their customers. But it is no longer a valid ID if it is a copy of that ID. So what is accomplished here? If I wanted to, I could easily forge information, both on the fax and especially with the digital image. How does this make any of us in the US more secure? I guess now the Linolakes State Bank is sure that I am not an evil terrorist just waiting to get the money funneled through the other operative in Minnesota (my dad). Or more accurately, the bank now knows that it is in compliance with the letter of the new law.

All this is to say I do not appreciate being awakened way too early by someone who has no idea that it is very early in Hawaii so that I can provide proof of identification that I know damn well isn't really proof of anything since it could so easily be forged. Might as well just send the drivers license number by itself, since at least that can be independently verified in a database somewhere. I don't like being awakened and inconvenienced so that a bank can be in compliance with new regulations, especially when I know that this is a complete waste of time in terms of providing actual proof of identification.

You know, I really should have replaced the photo, just to shake them up a bit.

Oh I hear that. That kind of thing happened to me just the other day. The bureaucracy was staggering.
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