There isn’t a day that goes by without the word “occupy” followed by the name of a city appearing somewhere online, on newspapers, TV or radio.  I didn’t pay much attention to it myself until it started creeping closer to the west coast.  Every large city in the U.S. is participating, marches are currently still occurring worldwide and they are protesting against several topics, one that’s just right up my alley—“power and influence of corporations, particularly from the financial service sector.”

Protestors marched in unison down the streets of Santa Ana on Saturday. Photo By: Jenny Lynn

Sure this might sound boring to most of you, but how many of you are just about fed up with your bank robbing you? How many got pretty upset when they found out Bank of America was going to start charging a debit card usage fee?

I can’t visually see your hands being raised or hear you saying “I,” but what I can tell you is that if you aren’t currently banking with the corporate giant just now, sometime in your lifetime you did or without realizing it you will.  Perhaps you currently aren’t forking over your hard earned money to Bank of America but rather Citi, Wells Fargo, or Chase.  But regardless of who it might be, they are all headed the same direction.

This chart illustrates what banks have been taken over by the giants.

I used to work for the monster itself and I vowed never to return again.  Everyday I hated getting up to work.  There were times that I felt physically sick just being there.  I dreaded picking up a call and hearing a man who could have easily been my father say how he had deposited a check, yet he wasn’t able to withdraw any of it.  Why? Because all his previous transactions had stacked up at once and now the bank was paying for the debt accumulated, plus racking up numerous insufficient funds fees for each transaction paid, overall using up his whole paycheck.  The man would have no means for the rest of the week, or however long it took him to get paid again, for food, for gas, for just about all the daily necessities of a human being.   I had to face these types of calls for a year and felt absolutely horrible giving them the news.

It didn’t stop there.  When those same customers were left with an almost empty balance they resorted to their credit card.

“Yes, Mr. Smith, your APR has defaulted to 24.98% due to your late payment.” I began sounding robotic. The calls were more than we could handle, people were furious and all we could really explain was that unfortunately they made their payment on time in THEIR time zone, however, payments must be received by Eastern Time.  (Really? Why did it even matter?) Oh and on top of that, “You also received a late fee. Would you like to pay it over the phone? If you pay over the phone it will be an extra $10 service charge.”  (Well if you were lucky your representative would warn you, otherwise you’d be surprised with the charge appearing on your next bill.)

So just when I thought I had given all sorts of people dreadful news about fees, their negative to almost non-existent account balance, or about another 30 days being reported to the credit bureau, I thought it couldn’t get any worse.  Boy was I wrong.

A crowd of protestors gathered in front of a Bank of America branch. Photo By: Jenny Lynn

My last eight months working for the devil, as I used to call this bank, I spent countless hours trying to find the proper words to use to a person who could ultimately lose their home.  “I understand you want to make your payment but you can’t…and I understand you want to refinance but you don’t qualify …and I also understand that you want to get help, but right now there’s no program available that can help you just yet.”   Or how could you explain to the woman who made every single one of her mortgage payments to Countrywide on time, reflecting three months late? Why? Simply because that piece of information was not transferred from the previous lender and in the meantime she hears, “just keep making your payments, we’ll fix it” (eventually).

Enough was enough, I had to leave, I had to escape the place that was slowly killing me, and I did.  Unfortunately, I ended up with another bank, a smaller one, a tiny one compared to Bank of America.  I felt a million times better.  I felt I was helping people and in most cases giving them better news.  However, this bank had bad news for me.  They laid me off.

 

"The most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property." --James Madison Photo By: Jenny Lynn

Now I’m not writing all this today because I’m bitter about being unemployed.  I’m saddened to hear that my colleagues, former bosses, who are great people, are getting their 60 day notices. I’m angry that thousands of courageous protestors are being beaten and arrested for standing up for our rights and for saying no to corporate greed.   It’s occurring everywhere, all while banks continue sending foreclosure notices, setting up meetings and announcing layoffs, and informing people that they don’t qualify for a loan.

And just like that banks then come in and take it all, take the house, repossess cars, and slap you with a horrible credit rating (which in many times takes years to repair).  I guess they are never content because now they also want to charge you for using a debit card THEY provided you for YOUR convenience for using YOUR own money?  How do you say—greedy?

A protestor redefined our current democracy by holding a sign that stated, "Gov't of the 1% by the 1% for the 1%." Photo by: Jenny Lynn

Must we all resort to stashing our cash under our mattress? What’s going to happen to our country if our government continues allowing these corporate giants to mess with our money? Is someone, something going to save us or will banks be the end of us?

 

*Special thanks to Jenny Lynn for allowing Yours Truly, E to post her photos.  Her photography can also be found by visiting facebook.com/jennylynnphotography