The Sad Tale of the Blogger Opening a Bank Account
This Monday I opened my first bank account since I graduated college a year and a half ago. It’s also when I found out banks can’t seem to find a difference between being a blogger and being unemployed.
As I walked into the PNC Bank I was inexplicably nervous. I mean, I wasn’t robbing the place, I was simply opening a checking account—although the bank was temptingly empty, with the exception of a plumber and a couple employees I was sure I could outrun.
I was angry with myself. What self-respecting 23-year-old gets nervous about opening a free checking account? There’s no commitment involved what so ever, no fees or monthly charges.
FREE!!! It’s a struggling 20-something’s favorite word. (Favorite two-word phrase see: Open Bar)
Yet, as I awkwardly searched for someone (anyone? Bueller…) to help me open my first bank account in a year and a half, my knee bounced and throat dried. There wasn’t a more foreign and uncomfortable place in the world than that PNC Bank.
Ever since I graduated college in the spring of 2009 I’d been living a cash-only lifestyle. I wasn’t selling drugs or prostituting myself, which would have been far more interesting. I simply carried rich dudes’ golf clubs to support my decision to become a journalist/writer/blogger/hack.
Yes, I still live with my dad, and yes, he still pays for my haircuts.
But last Monday I was taking a tiny step in becoming a member of society — the kind that can use ATM machines. I figured the holidays were coming up and I was bound to have a couple $25 pity checks rolling in the mail, so it was time to open a bank account.
Plus, I’m making a triumphant return to my mom’s health insurance this January, meaning I can get my broken tooth fixed. It’s an exciting winter.
This was a big day, a proud day. It’s a feeling that most high school seniors know better than myself – the power of plastic. (Not a credit card though, that’s probably still a decade or so away. Just a debit card. Ya know, a glorified Visa gift card.)
After the manager decided she was too busy gossiping* on the phone to help me, a young trainee came to my rescue. This was it, pretty soon I’d be able to open up tabs at the bar, buy food and booze on airplanes and become a Barnes and Noble rewards member.
It’s lame, I know, but I was damn excited – I was minutes away from becoming insured by the FDIC.
After giving the bank employee my basic information and a second form of identification, I was asked one last seemingly simple question: “what is your occupation?”
“Well, I write for a website in New York,” I started to mumble. “But I don’t really get paid often. Umm but I’m starting to get paid a little more frequently this year. So I guess you can put blogger, umm or like a journalist, or maybe something more broad like writer.”
By the perplexed and pitying look on this poor girl’s face you would have thought I said I root through my neighbor’s trash for spare change and half-full yogurt cups. (Seriously, you’d be surprised how many people don’t finish their yogurt.)
She smiled and typed furiously on the keyboard, searching for my profession in the vast PNC database.
“Lets see here… Give me one more minute… Well, that’s interesting… I need to talk to my manager—give me a second.”
As she left to talk to the woman who was too busy to help me to begin with, I felt naked. This was supposed to be a good day, I had over 60 bucks in my pocket, I might as well have been a millionaire setting up my first Swiss bank account.
Instead my new bank had to consult someone about my chosen career path. Hell, I wish someone consulted me when I chose to be a communications major.
When she finally made it back to finish setting up my account she smiled, all too politely, and returned to her throne of superiority. Without looking at the keyboard, or me, she very matter-of-factly stated the most deflating and obvious synonym for my “occupation.”
“Well, I just talked to my boss and we don’t have anything like your job in our system. So, for now I’m just going to have to put you down as unemployed, and you can update us if anything changes.”