A stolen debit card and a mail-order bride

Dec. 15, 2012 @ 12:08 PM

I didn't order a bride from Mumbai with my debit card, but someone did.

That's what the bank says.

I fear a knock at the door any day now and an awkward exchange:

"Hello, I am Charu from Mumbai. I have traveled many treacherous miles to join you in holy matrimony and live with you in harmonious joy on our sprawling country estate, which must be located somewhere else from the appearance of this humble abode. Nevertheless, I am here so that we may begin our new lives as husband and wife... who may I ask is that red-haired woman behind you loading a firearm of some sort? Is she our servant?"

"Run, Charu, run like the wind."

Our story begins in a grocery store, as do many of Shakespeare's tales if I recall my college literature classes correctly. (Note: Hollifield does not recall his college literature classes correctly.)

The cashier rang up my items, I scanned my debit card and instead of telling me how many fuel perks I had earned, she announced, "It says insufficient funds."

I knew there was money in the account. I said as much.

"I know there is money in the account."

Her face showed no emotion, but her eyes said, "I have heard that approximately 47,000 times, deadbeat. Let's move this along so I can check out the woman behind you with the snotty-nosed kid and four canned hams and go home."

Red-faced and cashless, I dug into my wallet for my only credit card, praying it would work and I would not have to leave my goods behind and walk shamefully across the parking lot in the cold, hard rain. It was not raining when I entered the store, but I imagined it would start as soon as I walked empty-handed through the automatic doors.

The credit card worked. There was no cold, hard rain, but despair and thoughts of poverty filled my head like a plugged gutter in a toad strangler.

I drove in a panic to the bank - which, for some reason, had not stayed open past closing time in anticipation of my fiscal emergency -- and checked our balance at the ATM.


I went home and broke the news of our sudden financial decline to the family.

"I'll handle this," said my wife, showing the grit and determination I have long admired (plus, I said, "Will you please, please handle this?").

She and the bank launched an investigation, which revealed multiple bogus charges - nearly 60 Apple ITunes Store purchases averaging $15 each (yes, we told the bank, we have a kid and, no, it was not her), $126 for an overseas phone plan, a PayPal payment to Michelle in California and, most curiously, $159 to "one of India's best known brands and the world's largest matrimonial service."

There was an additional fee of $4.99, which I assume was for shipping and handling.

"Is there something you are not telling me?" my wonderful, understanding spouse asked.

"Nope," I said, intending to add some levity. "I've already got one wife too many."

The couch that night was just as uncomfortable as I remembered.

The bank has been cooperative and we are currently in middle of the investigation and paperwork, trying to determine what happened and who did what.

If a mail-order bride does show up, I hope the UPS guy doesn't squash her between the storm door and front door like other packages we have received. And I hope she doesn't expect to hear a lot of music from the Apple ITunes Store at the wedding, because someone else is grooving to those songs, not us.

Sorry, Charu, I hope your trip back to Mumbai is a pleasant one. It's for the best. My wife will tell you that I'm awfully hard to live with. In fact, she now claims she has one husband too many.


• Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, NC and a humor columnist. Please don't steal his debit card. Contact him at rhollifield@mcdowellnews.com.