Thursday, June 16, 2011

Looking out

One of the most amazing parts of starting Longhaul Farm has been family, friends and neighbors looking out for us. A good number of people are genuinely interested in what we do, they feel bad when our broccolis are beheaded, they are psyched to share a home-grown salad and they are eager to haul rocks and dig beds with us.

Just the other day a young couple from across the river dropped by, the old-fashioned way, so they say, to see what we were up to. It was so refreshing and informative and calming to have two new neighbors take a random interest in what we were doing... not to mention they know a lot about native plants in our area and are seemingly equally obsessed with my arch nemesis, the black swallow wort, as I am.

And we received messages from a few good friends saying "sorry about those pests - have you tried coyote urine?," a neighbor down the road dropped off supplies for us to harvest with and Jason's father helped us weed after the rains we had the past few days. A community that is looking out is a very comfortable thing.

On a related-but-not-so-related note about this "looking out" concept... I think people are capable of looking out... but a corporation?!? And even worse, a bank? Scenario: Jason is up in Canada on a week-long trip in the wilderness of Restoule Lake. He's buying groceries (presumably) at the local supermarket, tries to use his <bank name> debit card to pay for it, and it gets denied. So <bank name>'s Fraud Department calls our HOME phone to check that this "activity" is approved.

Sparing many of the details of what went through my mind and the conversation that ensued... I called back this <bank name> Fraud Department and because I am not on Jason's account, couldn't approve his purchase, but as an angry partner and angry <bank name> customer, could complain. This whole fraud-prevention-thing is billed as "consumer protection," but in this case I see it as a serious inconvenience and a way for <bank name> to be sure it doesn't have to lose money on any fraudulent activity on an account. Seriously... he's in Canada! Can't we go for a vacation and have our money work for us? (No, we can't: according to the <bank name> supervisor I spoke with: he said it is the consumer's responsibility to notify <bank name> of any impending unusual activity. Relatedly, Jason's account was hacked while we lived in Argentina and <bank name> didn't pick up on it for 6 days and $2,500 later, once Jason caught it and put in a call.)

Just recently I had to call <bank name> to ask that my daily ATM withdrawal limit be increased to a reasonable level. Yes, there are "consumer protection" reasons to put a limit on this, but, digging deeper, my email request to them stated, "Dear Sir or Madam, Please increase my daily ATM withdrawal limit. I would prefer $X00. I have no idea why it is set at $Y00, other than so you, <bank name>, can keep more of my money for your own investments. Cordially, Jocelyn."

So if you haven't read our posts on moving your money into a local bank, you might consider now (or not, because I understand many people like the comfort of fraud prevention at the expense of your privacy and daily purchasing being monitored by a computer program and then flagged and sent to some employee of the <bank name> Fraud Department who is overworked now from the inane daily checks they do on their hundreds of thousands of customers and is responsible for trying to get in touch with you while you are unreachable and on your vacation and in the end you can't even buy your groceries or pay for gas). I'm getting back on the task of finding an institution I respect to put my money into... and enjoying small personal pleasures in life of real live individuals just dropping by and looking out for us.

Please excuse the rant.

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