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I Was Just Following Orders

but I have a note from Mom.......

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, August 07, 2002.

I lived and worked at a local inn in Boulder for the last several years. Boulder has definite tourist seasons, and during the summer, prices were jacked up – all the hotels do – and we catered pretty much to young travelers from all over the world. It was a blast, for the most part, and I’ll miss it. In the winter, we did what in reality was a lot of low income housing, and it was still okay although you dealt with a decidedly different bunch of people.

The things I won’t miss, in any case, are the set piece confrontations over policy that we had with certain individuals; certain types of individuals, I ought to say. We had a restrictive identification policy, and did not, among many other types, accept identification cards from the states. There were legal reasons for it, but the underlying thought is that in the United States, virtually everyone has a driver’s license, and the ones who do not lost them almost entirely due to DUI or worse. Which is to say, there is a liquor problem, and we did not allow alcohol on the premises. After twenty years of experience and experimentation, the policy was decided upon when well over ninety percent of the police visits, vandalism, and drunken incidents all involved people with state ID cards.

Well, this went over like a pregnant pole-vaulter with those who had been asked to leave, say, the Homeless shelter and planned on tying one on while staying with us. They slapped down their ID cards and we’d regretfully inform them of the policy, they’d drag out social security cards, which are meaningless, birth certificates, US passports, business cards, and – I swear – letters from their mothers testifying to their probity and sobriety.

You can easily see that their anticipation of a night’s stay and our chemical animosity to having violent drunks next to rooms housing families with young children would lead to bad scenes. They often did, in fact, and to do the job you had to be very good at handling that sort of situation, not excluding police involvement when they announced they were not going to leave.

Today, heroically trying to pay off creditors in order of threat value, I decided to open a bank account, my first in eight years, at a bank where I was squaring accounts. I went into the bank, where I used to have lots of accounts, and the receptionist, eerily enough, remembered me. I told her I wanted to open an account. Wonderful, she implied, fill this out and take out two forms of identification. Fine, I said.

But I didn’t have two forms of identification. I have a valid driver’s license. I have a library card. I have a King Soopers card. I have a coffee club punch card; with two more punches to get me a free bag of something. I have a National Park pass.

‘Sorry,’ she smiled. But I have this check with which to open the account, not telling her it was to immediately vanish into the accounts of creditors. ‘Sorry,’ she said.

What other forms of identification do you accept, I asked? Passport, she said. Mine hadn’t been used in twenty years; safe bet it had expired. ‘Credit card?’ she asked. After the general hilarity died down, I officially told her that I was the only human in the nation not inundated with free credit cards, and were I worth Bill Gates, they still wouldn’t give me one. I wish I hadn’t said that.

I still don’t have a bank account. But I can drive, anyway. Can I borrow your car sometime?

It isn’t karma; it’s just today. I’m leaving into what looks to be the rainstorm at the end of world. On foot. No raincoat. It wasn’t MY policy, you know………..