Back when we baby boomers were kids (if you can remember back that far!), “theft” used to be about our cars. Now, in one of the many shifts society has taken since then, it is about our identities. Which has hurt the feelings of Jerry Zezima, humor columnist for the Tribune News Service of Chicago, who asks, Why doesn’t anyone want my credit card information?
To be or not to be — that’s not even a question for all the people in the world who don’t want to be me. That’s why my identity has never been stolen.
I can’t say the same for my wife, Sue, who recently noticed suspicious activity on one of her credit cards, received a mysterious box containing junk she’d never ordered, and had to go to the bank to straighten the whole mess out.
I accompanied her to see what it was like to be wanted by somebody other than the police.
The drama, sponsored by a company named for a river in South America (sorry, you’re wrong, it’s not the Orinoco), began when Sue saw a charge for $54.28.
“Did you buy something?” she asked me.
I professed my innocence and said, “I wouldn’t know how.”
A few days later, a prompt parcel person plopped a package on our doorstep, made a beeline back to his truck and sped away.
Sue took the box inside and saw that her name had been misspelled.
“How could anyone misspell ‘Sue’?” I wondered.
“No,” she said with a sigh. “I mean the last name.”
It was spelled “Zezmimia.”
“Sounds like either a small country or some kind of unpleasant ointment,” I said. “Either way, I couldn’t spell the name until I was in high school.”
Sue tore open the box and discovered the contents: a fake spider’s web, five wishing lights and an insulated lunch bag.
“If someone’s going to send stuff,” Sue huffed, “they could have ordered something good.”
That prompted a call to the aforementioned company and a conversation with a very nice customer service specialist named Chanel.
“This is what they do,” she said, referring to the fraudsters who attempt to steal the identities of law-abiding citizens and, it should be noted, online shoppers like Sue. “They’ll send a package to your house using your credit card information and then take the package back before you have a chance to bring it in.”
“You were too fast for them,” I told Sue.
“Speaking of fast,” said Chanel, who cleared the charge at her company, “you should go to the bank and get a new card.”
Before you could say “Chapter 11,” Sue and I were sitting with a helpful financial solutions adviser named Daniel.
“I’m going to freeze the card,” he said after taking it from Sue.
“It’s safer than incinerating it,” I said. “You might burn the bank down.”
Daniel politely ignored the remark and said, “It’s disconcerting, to say the least.”
“If not less,” I added.
Daniel called the fraud department and spoke with a claims specialist named Max, who then spoke with Sue.
“He canceled the card,” she said after hanging up.
“I guess it was Maxed out,” I commented.
“I hate when this happens,” Daniel said, presumably referring to identity theft, though he could have been talking about my stupid jokes.
“Nobody wants my identity,” I told him.
“I can relate,” Daniel said. “I have yet to find a person who wants mine. I’m working on it.”
He looked at the computer screen and noted that Sue and I have joint banking.
“It’s so we can afford to stay in our joint,” I explained. “But after this, if I tried to get into Sue’s account, would I be arrested?”
“Yes,” said Daniel. “The cops would take both of us out in handcuffs.”
After telling Sue that she’d soon be getting a new card, Daniel warned us about credit thievery.
“It’s happened to me,” he said. “There are a bunch of wacko ding dongs out there.”
“That means I’m safe,” I said.
“How so?” Daniel asked.
“I’m a wacko ding dong,” I answered. “That’s why nobody wants my identity.”
Copyright 2020 by Jerry Zezima
Jerry’s fifth book to make you laugh is “Every Day Is Saturday: Sleeping Late, Playing with the Grandchildren, Surviving the Quarantine, and Other Joys of Retirement.”