I’ve never been a rule breaker. I probably entered this world worried about the mess and noise I created. But there are times when the reason for rules makes my head spin and my inclination to say ‘Pah!’ is overwhelming.
Today we needed some Euros and the obvious place to go was the Post Office. They’re nice and helpful in the Post Office despite spending hours behind a screen as might an exotic and dangerous animal in a zoo. When approached the woman asked, ‘Cash or card?’
’Ok. You’ll need ID.’
Ah ha. No ID. Dang. ‘Sorry. I left it at home? Why do I need it?’
’FSA regs. Money laundering,’ she said apologetically.
I do understand why financial institutions have to be careful. Opening a bank account can be a real faff, what with passports and utility bills and what have you. I smiled my regret at coming unprepared and started to turn away when she said, ‘You can change cash without ID.’
I was flummoxed and I’m sure it showed. But I think she imagined my confusion was how to go about getting the cash so she added, still trying to be helpful, ‘If you use your card, I can give you the cash and then you can convert it.’ This was said with the bright confidence of the experienced carer dealing with the somewhat bemused aged when presented an app.
I put my card in dutifully as I framed the first of many questions. ‘So, to be clear, I can’t use the card to get Euros without ID but I can use it to get cash and then change the cash?’
She looked up from where she was counting out the 50s. ‘It’s the same with any currency,’ she answered, misunderstanding my confusion.
I ploughed on regardless. ‘When I open an account here, what would I need? ID? Utility bill? Then a wait while you checked?’
She started counting the notes in front of me, deliberately enunciating each denomination carefully. But she had time to nod.
’And all this is to be sure that the account isn’t for laundering cash?’
Another nod. ‘Would you like an envelope for that?’
My turn to nod. ‘So I can use my post office debit card which I only get if I’ve satisfied you with two levels of identity including proof of address. But to use that card to obtain currency I need to repeat one level of security…’
Her smile was slipping somewhat. ‘Was there anything else?’
’…whereas if I have cash… cash that might have been obtained by any nefarious means… I can obtain nice clean, freshly washed – laundered one might say – Euros without so much as an explanation?’
Her smile was history, slipping into a memory. Perhaps I shouldn’t have said nefarious.
’No, nothing else thank you.’ To many imponderables aren’t good for a lad. I needed to go to the Park and talk to Dog. He makes more sense.