My brother John is handling Mom's estate. He called me late yesterday (after 3 pm) and told me that Mom's lawyer said that I didn't need her death certificate to cash in our jointly held CD at her bank in Downingtown.
As a former trust department bank employee (37 years) my first thought was "Uh, yes. Banks have rules and I probably do need a death certificate no matter what." However, John assured me that Barry (the lawyer) said since it was a jointly held CD, and either one of us could cash it in at anytime, NO DEATH CERTIFICATE WAS NEEDED. I think you all know where I'm going with this.
So the decision was to wait until the bank opened today (9:00 a.m.) and call and ask or take a chance and leave early this morning to avoid the traffic and be at the bank at 9:00 a.m. to get this out of the way.
The weather forecast was for rain tomorrow. I'm scheduled to work tomorrow and I don't like to make that 5-6 hour round trip on the same day I work. I tend to become very irritable after driving for 5-6 hours. When I'm irritable I'm not the kind of hotel front desk clerk that you want to encounter.
Thursday, when I don't work, the forecast was for HEAVY rains. That was out.
Friday more rain was forecast. I could make the trip up in the morning but I don't like to make the trip back in the afternoon to Lower Slower Delaware because of the Friday late afternoon weekend traffic.
I make the decision to leave this morning, early. You know the old saw about "the best laid plans of men and mice?" Well, I got slammed with it today.
We (Bill, my Significant Other until DOMA is repealed then Bill will be my spouse) left our house in the dark at 5 a.m. As we turned out of our development onto Route 1 I mentioned to Bill "Traffic is heavy for this time of morning isn't it?" He agreed to the obvious, fearing that I was going to bitch about this state of affairs the rest of the way to Pennsylvania. I did.
By the time 7 a.m. rolled around, and we were sitting in bumper to bumper traffic 10 miles outside of Newark, Delaware, I realized I was in the morning Rush Hour. At this time rain started to fall lightly from the early morning gray skies.
Fast forward to 8:53 a.m. and we arrived in the parking lot of First Niagra Bank in the center of Downingtown. My previous concern that I would have to kill time until the bank opened at 9 a.m. was long gone. We had just completed what was normally a 2 1/2 hour trip to Downingtown, PA in 3 HOUR AND 45 MINUTES.
I go into the lobby of First Niagra Bank, having to pee real bad. I try the door to the branch office. It's locked. An employee sees me, it is now 8:59 a.m. She takes pity on me and opens the door. First thing I ask her is where is the bathroom (I had to pee like a racehorse.) She takes me through the bank lobby to show me how to get to the bathroom. Two of the women tellers see me and shout "Hi Ron! Good to see you!" You see, I used to work at this bank in a Previous Life. When I worked there in 2001 (where does the time go?) it was called First Financial Savings Bank. After I left First Financial it went through several metamorphoses to Willow Grove Bank, Harleysville National Bank and it is now known as FIRST NIAGRA. God help us.
This is nothing unusual. When I left First Fidelity Bank in Philadelphia I saw the name on my retirement checks go from First Union, Wachovia Bank and now Wells Fargo Bank. Same thing with my retirement checks from Mellon Bank and Downingtown National Bank. I've been, as they say, around the block a few times in my 37 year banking career. But I digress.
Back to the challenge at hand this morning. One of the women who said "Hi Ron!" to me this morning was the same woman who open the CD in the joint name of my mother and myself lo these many years ago. No problem right? If you thought that, then you would be wrong.
So we sit down. She expresses her concern over the death of my Mother. We talk about how we would like to die versus the long and lingering death my Mother had to endure. This is not a good conversation for this early on a rainy Monday morning. Then we get around to the business at hand. I tell her that I want to cash in the CD that I held jointly with my Mother. Ronnie (her name, ironies of ironies, right) crinkles her forehead and says, "Well, I'm not sure we can do that." I KNEW IT! I KNEW IT! I need a death certificate.
She said with the previous bank rules I could probably have just cashed in the CD but First Niagra has a different sent of rules. Of course they do. Probably as a result of the new financial reform legislation. One thing I noticed in all the years I've worked for a bank, every time there was a new set of financial reform legislation passed to prevent the insiders from robbing us, the rules always came down to another stupid assed hurdle to prevent customers from getting their own money out of the bank.
Resigned to my fate, I ask Ronnie what do I have to do. I really didn't want to make yet ANOTHER TRIP back to Pennsylvania. I am SO OVER making that 2 1/2 trip (one way) to PA. I've lost count how many times I've made that trip since I moved to Delaware in 2006.
She had a good answer. She told me that I only had to send a letter with the death certificate. She said I didn't have to make the trip back. Thank God.
So we chat a bit more and I'm on my way. Bill wants to stop over at our old property again, which was sold at foreclosure last Monday. I'm getting tired of that trip too. How many times to I have to look at our formerly beautifully landscaped property that is now neglected and overgrown with weeds and looks like the Pennsylvania version of Gray Gardens?
We go up the branch strewn lane. Bill gets out and takes some video. I take a few pictures. Then the gray skies above us decided to make a deposit on us from their water ladened clouds.
I get in the car. Bill puts his umbrella up and continues to roam around our old property, taking yet more videos. How many does he need anyway? Finally, the rain was coming down so heavy that even he got into the car, getting raindrops over my new upholstery.
We head out our old driveway, up Crawford Road, to Fisherville Road and then the Rt. 30 bypass to Sadsburyville where we will get on Rt. 10 that will take us to Rt. 896 (farmland), which in turn will take us to Rt. 1 and HOME in Lower Slower Delaware.
By the time we're on the Rt. 30 bypass, my windshield wipers are going "THRAWCK! THRAWCK! THRAWCK!" Yes, boys and girls, it is raining that hard.
Somehow I maneuver my way in the blinding rain down the ten miles to the McDonald's in Sadsburyville. I couldn't pull over on the bypass for fear of being plowed out of existence by a semi so my plan was to make it to McDonald's and a late breakfast/early lunch and wait out the storm.
We get into McDonald's. There weren't many people in McDonald's but there was the Required Screaming Kid. Never fails. It seems as if I'm always blessed with one of these Little Darlings in a restaurant. A little kid who NEEDS ATTENTION. I endure.
In time the rains let up. But not before the Screaming Kid wanders over to our side of the restaurant (I insisted that we sit on the other side of the room as far as possible from the Little Darling.) The Little Angle stops before our booth and stars at us, two old, really OLD men nursing their milkshakes. Mom comes by and scoops him up and leaves the restaurant.
Now that the rain has let up, it is time for us to leave too.
The trip back to Delaware is uneventful, punctuated periodically by a heavy downpour. Thank God the traffic was light. However, my brand new 2010 red Subaru Forester is thoroughly coated with that lovely road spray. A car wash is in my near future.
We got home at 1:30 p.m. I call John and tell him my experience. John is used to me telling him of "my experiences." I tell him I need a death certificate.
I'm done for the day I go into my bedroom and take a nap, A THREE HOUR NAP.
I just got up.
I'm writing about it now.
I'm wondering what kind of adventure awaits me tomorrow.