You know those little deposit slips you get from the bank? Well, I never realized just how important those little pieces of paper are. You think the people who work at a bank would be carefully screened and of highest integrity, but don’t get too comfortable.
I bank, or did, with a small local bank. Last month was a difficult one for my family. I am a low-income single parent without living relatives, and we got stuck trying to get moved out of a falling apart ancient building that was slated for an overhaul. My kid was sick from living there and so was I. It was a true struggle to get up the deposit money to get out of there, but somehow I did it. We were basically homeless for the last little bit before the move and my kid, a straight-A student who attends both the zero period before school and the extra computer lab after school, was excited about having some time off. Christmas was coming up too.
I paid up my money to the next building owner and had just enough to make it through to my next student loan, and (I thought) we even had enough to have a tiny Christmas celebration. To my surprise, the debit card would not run, and for Christmas, the overdraft notices began to roll in. I cannot even remember the last time I have ever allowed my account to go into overdraft. I wondered what the problem could be. We skipped Christmas and counted our blessings for making it out of the old apartment. My bank statement arrived in the mail … a mid-December deposit for $280 in cash was not on the statement. OK, I thought, this will not be a problem. I will simply go down to the bank, they will see the record of the $280 that did not make it into the account, and all will be well. What actually happened: I went into the bank, asked them to check, and indeed, they had one cash deposit for that exact amount for that day, but it went into another account. And where was my deposit slip they wanted to know? Oops, that’s right, in the hectic move I had merely copied onto my check registry the amount of deposit and not tried to keep every little slip of paper.
Now the bank says I owe them money, and we have none. Never, never, never underestimate the importance of a tiny piece of paper — especially if it is from a small local bank. I learned the hard way.
Susan McCord lives in Grass Valley.