Sometimes life is just a huge chore

Published November 17, 2020

“Mark!” you ask. “What is like being you on a day-to-day basis? I’m just dying to know!”

Well, Random Citizen, I’ll tell you. It depends on the day of the week. Normally, on Sundays, I go to Mass (9 or noon, depending on which Sunday it is since Mass is carefully portioned out during pandemic). Then, we come home, have lunch and do such things as nap, take walks or watch an old movie, a process that includes squeezing Jan’s feet, because that’s wonderful.

Mondays I normally have a post up from Saturday and spend the day posting more stuff for the week. This past Saturday, I failed to post anything for Monday–a huge mistake–and when Monday came around I spent the entire day trying desperately to get money to my friend in the Gambia so that this kid could get heart surgery:

We had put together a GoFundMe on Twitter last Friday and I was astonished at the generosity of my readers. It was all done by Sunday, so I was eager to get the money out the door so this kidlet and his folks could be on their way to Spain for the surgery. Having $3000 of other people’s money is a lot of pressure on the conscience, so I was in a hurry to kick the money forward to the kid’s family.

It was an utter failure, made worse by the fact that when I hit send on Western Union, I then went joyfully to Twitter to tell everybody the money was sent, only to be notified shortly thereafter that WU declined the transaction, apparently because they decided they were smarter than me about where I should send my money.

So the whole day yesterday was spent in an endless round of phone calls, requests to speak to managers (in the worst Karen style) and insanity-making frustration with a series of English as a Second Language functionaries who sent me to phones that rang eternally with no one to answer, hold music that eventually hung up on me, or incompetents who took hours to process my requests, only to inform me again that they declined my request. I was promised return calls that never came (twice). I was told I needed to talk to my credit card company to release the funds… then declined again. I was told I had no right of appeal. And no matter how much I begged and pleaded, explaining that this is matter of life and death, a company which literally only exists to move money around the planet swiftly could not be persuaded to do so.

It was, surely, one of the circles of hell.

What I found out about myself was that existing in a state of frustrated fury for 10 solid hours is not 100% fun for me. I hated that I felt that way. I hated that I took it out on sub-minimum wage functionaries. I hated the company for treating me so consistently like a piece of crap all day long. I hated them. I hated me. I was angry at God for not making some miraculous way to Part the Red Tape so I could walk through and get this stupid, simple task done. I hated the enemies out there who watch my every move in cyberspace, and who I imagined I could feel breathing down my neck, eager to accuse me of somehow running some vague scam involving Africa, as so many scams seem to be. I hated all the other companies I tried (APS, WorldRemit, Moneygram, etc.) to get the money through and who all denied me too. By the end of the day, utterly defeated and discouraged, I gave up somewhere around 7 or 8 PM and just hated everything. It was a soul-crushing day.

So I went out to tell my woes to the fam and was given wulla wullas by Jan and a hug by Peter. Then, too exhausted to make something, I just opted for Mickey Ds, then came back and watched some TV while squeezing Jan’s toes (a very soothing thing).

Eventually, my eyes got heavy and I sagged into bed, where just the feel of the woman I love most in all the world next to me was healing and consolation and I fell asleep till morning.

This AM I got up and tried again. This time going straight to the bank to wire the money.

Again, I failed, but not completely. The guy laid down certain conditions for information he wanted to see before he wired the money. So I have gone back to my contact to get that info. He is eight hours ahead, so it is nearly midnight there right now. Tomorrow he will go get the info so as to provide irrefutable proof that this is not a scam, I am not a complete idiot, and I have the right to send this money where it needs to go.

And that is some of what it is like to be me.

8 Responses

  1. Well, there’s a reason emails from Nigerian Princes became famous. And that reason is why every money-transferring agency on the planet is highly suspicious of westerners sending money to random people in Africa.
    Is this the point where you riff about structures of sin?

  2. Mark, that’s terrible, my husband tells me that nothing gets done on the weekend because the regular staffers are off. At least they are polite in the Philippines while not being able to help.

    Is it too late to donate? I thought you could use Pay Pal on Go Fund me. When Pay Pal didn’t come up as an option and I was told to put in a new credit card number, I was interrupted with some other business, and put if off… 🙁

    Hope you are better! Just say no to the inner Karen! A Karen at the Farmer’s market told on me for having my dog with me today. My dog was on a leash, and who knew they had that rule? Anyway, the guy in charge just looked at her and shrugged. Instead of taking that as a win, and moving along, I out-Karened her and told her to mind her own business. Ugh.

    1. I checked with him. Compliance and fraud departments at all companies have hair triggers these days and try to catch as much as possible. In scientific language, they’re extremely sensitive, but at the expense of being specific. That is, they catch nearly all fraud attempts, but falsely flag legitimate money transfers as fraud.

      It’s impossible to influence this from within the company, it would probably raise even more suspicion.

      I hope it all worked out in the end.

  3. Mark, I know exactly how you feel. Your description of the 7 circles of hell of the mind exactly matches my regular daily torment in trying to get my needs met while dealing with GOVERNMENT functionaries. This morning, it was PNM that is dishing out astonishing $200.00 electric bills for a woman living in about 500 s.f. apartment, showers twice a week, never uses the dryer, doesn’t wash anything in hot water except towels, yadda yadda yadda. At least YOU have the joy of advocating for someone ELSE: a very worthy, tiny, innocent little someone else, and you don’t have to justify your OWN existence like so many of us. Buck up, my friend! Many of us are praying for you and your worthy cause. God bless you. Silver Rose

  4. I hope everything is resolved ASAP. This is what makes money transfer scams doubly despicable – they both steal from vulnerable people AND create an impassible obstacle course when there is a legitimate need to send funds. It’s part of why it’s so urgent governments do something to fix this utterly broken system.

    A while back I was working a retail customer service desk that offered Western Union – I couldn’t work the machine but would help with the paperwork before fetching a manager to press “send”. We had to do ages of online training about spotting scams and how to try to gently discourage people. It was just awful. Awful when you had a strong sense that there was a legitimate transfer being automatically denied and couldn’t fix it, and awful when you knew someone was being scammed and they couldn’t be dissuaded. I’ll never forget the little old lady who told me so lovingly and enthusiastically about her “fiancé who worked on an oil rig outside Madagascar.” He needed to borrow like $10,000 to repair his machinery. She wouldn’t be deterred no matter what probing questions we asked, and even when the system flagged the transfer and denied it *because that account had already received over $50,000 that day* she just cheerfully said it happened all the time and she would keep trying different locations. About a week later I read this article: https://www.wired.com/2015/10/online-dating-made-woman-pawn-global-crime-plot/ describing a woman caught up by the EXACT same story. So crushing.

    I’ll be keeping baby Abraham and his family in my prayers to our Divine Physician this week.

  5. Mark, you my have thought of this already, but is it possible to channel your funds through an established charity? Is there a charity you can alert to the needs of this little one? I’m sorry this is happening.

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