This blog is a continuing book of my time in Reno, dealing in situations where seniors were ripped off or taken advantage of. The names used here are the actual ones, save for Jane, a good lady whom I always respected.
Picking up from my previous post …
As the weeks passed during my gig at Wells Fargo in northwest Reno, I could feel the vultures circling. It was no mystery.
My wife’s cancer had returned only three months after we were married. My life had evolved into a series of trips to San Francisco. I’d stay with her in the hospital. It was the right thing, not the easy or economical thing, to do. There was no way I could ever predict how long those stays were. Tough spot to be in, but nothing, of course, like having cancer hang over someone I loved.
Later in this blog when I write of the many difficult levels of caregiving, it comes from having fought many battles.
Anyway, the sales projections that the invisible number crunchers had assigned for Janie and I had become a joke. For both of us, each month became more of a “how close can we get — what is the threshold for acceptable failure?” type of thing.
Now, Janie fretted. We’d hustle ourselves outside on those rare occasions when Shirley Echols was out of the office, or district manager Joni Rose wasn’t on patrol.
“Tonster,” said Jane, “how many of those bogus accounts did you have to fix today?”
“Two. And another that was one of Janelle’s suckers.”
“How did they get away with it?”
I shrugged. “Can’t figure. It’s fraud, pure and simple. Right now I’m just trying to keep my own head above water. How are your numbers going?”
Jane shook her head. “I’m running out of friends from the neighborhood to ask. Look, they wanna help me, but our home loan rates are through the roof. I can’t ask them to pay more just so’s I can keep my job.”
“Here’s the deal,” I told her. “It’s not in you to be a crook like Alex and Janelle. You gotta find one thing you’re comfortable with, and shoot for that.”
I told her that mine was credit cards. Anyone who asked me anything in the bank, whether it related to banking, how lousy the Raiders were playing, how screwed up the country’s politics was, got asked for a credit card. Credit cards were profitable, but a person could bail on keeping them. You could cancel ’em, cut ’em up, never to be used again. Hell, you could even stick ’em in bankrupttcy. All that mattered to me was that I was first or second in the region in credit card sales. I did one thing good, the product provided the least damage. Something to keep my job and maintain my wife’s battle against cancer.
Janie knew that I’d done sales before, and when I clued her in to these aspects of “the game,” our talks would end with a big grin on her face. Like any other person who didn’t want to fail in her job all she wanted was an inside look to give her the best shot.
There are some things I’ll never forget about that job. One is the little fat guy who wrote small checks to different charities: the Human Society, Food Bank, Abused Women’s groups–five, maybe ten bucks. He bounced about six of these checks and Shirley was primed to charge him $25 per bounced check. I reversed the charges when she was out of the office. “Please don’t do that again,” I told the little guy, “because I probably won’t get a second chance to help you.”
There was also the wife of a big-shot at the University of Nevada. He strutted in like he owned the bank. Shirley saw this one coming, got herself in front of the guy seconds after he pushed through the door. A week or so later, Shirley Echols found me at my desk.
“Something’s weird with this loan, Tony.”
“All kinds of other names are showing up on her credit report. I think we have a case of identity theft.”
In the early days of identity theft, most of our security efforts dealt with keep records secure, especially credit reports. Wells had a secure in-house mail program. We all watched that stuff carefully. “You’ll get to the bottom if it,” I told Shirley. “There’s got to be an answer.”
“It’s going to blow the loan,” she said.
It wasn’t the worst thing that could happen, I thought.
I was wrong.