My father was a careful man, methodical in everything he did. After he retired, it was his job to look after the banking.
Once a week or so, he would add up his sums, gather his paperwork and head for the bank, two blocks away. Some days he would be back in plenty of time for lunch. Other days... not.
My mother, being a devoted and life-long pessimist, would think, "That's it then, he's died."
But eventually, he would return, tired and stressed. When Mum asked him what the hell took so long, he'd roll his eyes and sigh, "Irene...."
She was amazing, really and should have had a great career as a greeter at Wal-Mart. Because she was friendly, and could handle "hello".
What she couldn't seem to handle was computers. Or, you know, money.
The day I went into my parents' bank to close their safe-deposit box, I thought I was OK. Irene was there, but safely ensconced with another customer. I signed the paperwork, paid my fine for the lost key and left.
What I didn't know was that Irene was given the job of actually entering the information. Into the computer.
And that, somehow, in entering that information, she also had my mother, who was very much alive at the time, declared dead.
So that her next Social Security cheque was returned. To the US Social Security office. The monolith with which there is no dealing. Which caused them to cut off Mum's payments.
It was up to me to get them back.
I still don't understand how, without a death certificate, she managed to mark my mother as deceased. It took three copies just to be able to turn in my Dad's driver's licence.
Incompetence. Who knew it could be a career move?