I do not like to bring up race when I am treated different from others. At the airport, I am often stopped even though I have Global Entry and do my best to laugh it off, pretending that my Arab sexiness has nothing to do with it. Yesterday, I went to open a business account at a US Bank branch in Montana, my second place of residence, because there is no Chase branch in this entire state. I brought the proper documentation for opening the account including my Arizona driver license.
Unlike when I’m in New York, I was not dressed in my finest garb. I was actually wearing my Emirates pajamas and the World’s Greatest Travel Jacket. Add in that I was opening an account for my New York business and I could see how the transaction could appear suspicious. That’s why when they asked me if I was sure that I was a NY lawyer and if I could prove it, I did not hesitate to point them to the NY Bar’s website. I also did not take offense when they asked for proof of my New York office lease. We are living in a Dodd-Frank world so who knows what documents are needed to comply with regulations. Mind you, US Bank’s website says that none of this is required to open a business checking account.
I also did not think anything of it when my initial deposit check written to my firm was taken into the back room for over thirty minutes, to be ‘examined’. After finally convincing the ‘universal banker’ (an oxymoron given that she could not fathom how one person could have a driver license in Arizona, a law license in Arizona and New York, and maintain a second residence in Montana) that I was indeed an attorney, I was almost able to open an account. Then I was informed that my driver license could not be accepted as proof of identification as it was reissued two months ago. (thank you very much augardiente for helping lose my wallet in Medellin) Apparently, for an ID to be valid it has to be more than three months old. At that moment, I lost it, told the banker that I was a U.S. citizen, and left in disgust.
Today, I called US Bank and asked if there was such a thing as the ‘3 month rule’ to which the representative said absolutely not. He also found the incident to be very strange. On Monday, I shall return to the branch (as it is the only one within 100 miles of where I am) with my passport which the banker kept insisting could not be expired and kept questioning me if it was still valid. Hopefully, then I will be able to open the account.
I’ve been with US Bank since the days of the Northwest Visa Card so it’s not like I am a stranger to the bank. I had all my documents in order so it was not like I came unprepared. This leads me to believe much like the time I was searched at the world’s tiniest airport in the same town that it is something uglier. I hate to say it was discrimination but what else could it be?