Dear Bank Manager,

I am writing to thank you for bouncing the check with which I
endeavored to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations some
three nanoseconds must have elapsed between his presenting the
check, and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honor
it. I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my
entire salary, an arrangement which, I admit, has only been in
place for eight years.

You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of
opportunity, and also for debiting my account with $50 by way of
penalty for the inconvenience I caused to your bank. My
thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has
caused me to re-think my errant financial ways. You have set me
on the path of fiscal righteousness.

No more will our relationship be blighted by these unpleasant
incidents, for I am restructuring my affairs in 2002, taking as
my model the procedures, attitudes and conduct of your very bank.
I can think of no greater compliment, and I know you will be
excited and proud to hear it.

To this end, please be advised about the following changes:

First, I have noticed that whereas I personally attend to your
telephone calls and letters, when I try to contact you I am
confronted by the impersonal, ever-changing, pre-recorded,
faceless entity which your bank has become. From now on I, like
you, choose only to deal with a flesh and blood person.

My mortgage and loan repayments will, therefore and hereafter, no
longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by cheque,
addressed personally and confidentially to an employee of your
branch, whom you must nominate. You will be aware that it is an
offense under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an

Please find attached an Application Contact Status which I
require our chosen employee to complete. I am sorry it runs to
eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as
your bank knows about me, there is no alternative. Please note
that all copies of his or her medical history must be
countersigned by a Justice of the Peace, and that the mandatory
details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and
liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

In due course I will issue your employee with a PIN number which
he/she must quote in all dealings with me. I regret that it
cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modeled it on
the number of button presses required to access my account
balance on your phone bank service. As they say, imitation is
the sincerest form of flattery.

Let me level the playing field even further by introducing you to
my new telephone system, which you will notice, is very much like
yours. My authorized contact at your bank, the only person with
whom I will have any dealings, may call me at any time and will
be answered by an automated voice. By pressing Buttons on the
phone, he/she will be guided thorough an extensive set of menus:

1. To make an appointment to see me

2. To query a missing repayment

3. To make a general complaint or inquiry

4. To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there;
Extension of living room to be communicated at the time the call
is received;

5. To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am still
sleeping. Extension of bedroom to be communicated at the time the
call is received;

6. To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to
nature. Extension of toilet to be communicated at the time the
call is received.

7. To transfer the call to my mobile phone in case I am not at

8. To leave a message on my computer. To leave a message a
password to access my computer is required. Password will be
communicated at a later date to the contact.

9. To return to the main menu and listen carefully to options 1
through 8.

The contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my
automated answering service. While this may on occasion involve a
lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration. This
month I've chosen a refrain from The Best Of Woody Guthrie:

"Oh, the banks are made of marble With a guard at every door And
the vaults are filled with silver That the miners sweated for"

After twenty minutes of that, our mutual contact will probably
know it by heart. On a more serious note, we come to the matter
of cost.

As your bank has often pointed out, the ongoing drive for greater
efficiency comes at a cost. A cost which you have always been
quick to pass on to me. Let me repay your kindness by passing
some costs back.

First, there is the matter of advertising material you send me.
This I will read for a fee of $20 per page. Inquiries from your
nominated contact will be billed at $5 per minute of my time
spent in response. Any debits to my account, as, for example, in
the matter of the penalty for the dishonored cheque, will be
passed back to you.

My new phone service runs at 75 cents a minute (even Woody
Guthrie doesn't come for free), so you would be well advised to
keep your inquiries brief and to the point. Regrettably, but
again following your example, I must also levy an establishment
fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.

May I wish you a happy, if ever-so-slightly less prosperous, 2002

Your humble client.