An email from Huntington Bank appeared in the inbox on Tuesday, February 21. It wasn't unexpected. In January, Huntington had merged or acquired First Merit, which is where the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and the Social Security Administration send my money. According to the email, my accounts at First Merit had been successfully moved to Huntington. If I wished to make use of Huntington's online services, I needed to go online and set things up.
Wednesday afternoon I cozied up to the computer, opened Huntington's email, and clicked on the appropriate link for setting up online services. The first page was easy; I was asked to type my First Merit username in one box, and my Social Security number in the other. Then I was directed to click on "Continue" if I wanted to continue.
At first glance, the second page appeared as easy as the first. A box on the screen showed last the four digits of the two phone numbers First Merit had for me. I was to click on the number I wanted them to use, then they would text a number, which I could punch in to get at the stuff I needed. I clicked on digits of my current phone and waited for the promised text. The anticipated message didn't arrive. Instead, "Oops, there seems to be a problem with the telephone number you selected.," popped up on the screen. "Oops, there seems to be a problem with your piece-of-crap computer," said I. Then I looked closely at the number. "Oops, it appears I transposed the last two digits of my phone number when I gave the number to First Merit." I mixed up those two numbers several times or more when I first got the phone. I couldn't blame First Merit for what was obviously my mistake. Well, I could have if I were a politician. But I'm not.
No big deal, at the bottom of the screen there was a phone number at which help was available "24 hours a day, seven days a week." My call was promptly answered by a computer that asked for my Social Security number. "I'm sorry, that number is not in our customer file," the computer said after I put in the SS number. I called again and chose the "Press One" option. "Please say or punch in the account number of one of your accounts." I put in the number of my checking account. "I'm sorry, Huntington Bank accounts do not start with those numbers."
So, I called again and pressed "0", hoping it would get me to a real person. Ha! It bombarded me with really loud, really bad music, occasionally interrupted by a synthesized voice assuring me that my call was important and a representative would be with me in a few moments. Those few moments stretched to ten minutes, and I hung up. Three more tries Wednesday and three on Thursday resulted in lots promises that a representative would be with me in just a few minutes, but the representative never showed up.
Friday, with the end of the month fast approaching, I had no choice but to dial the number, press "0", and wait and wait and wait until the representative picked up my call. Forty-five minutes later, she did. I told her my name and that I was a First Merit customer who wanted to use Huntington's online services. She would be glad to help me, but first I had to make it clear that I wasn't Mrs. Harris. That doesn't bother me. People on the phone have been mistaking my voice for that of a woman's for ten years. My voice must have changed some as a result of the MS.
"OK, Mr. Harris, how can I help you?" Hoping to make light of my foolishness in transposing the digits of my phone number, I said, "Well, I was stupid." "You weren't stupid, Mr. Harris. Lots of people way younger than you are having difficulty with this."
If the people having trouble are way younger than I, that means she thinks I'm way older. Being mistaken for a woman when I'm talking on the phone is one thing. But being mistaken for a "way older" woman is quite another. I was crushed.
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The dogwood tree outside my window is ready to spring into spring.