The phone rings.
I answer it and the voice at the other end asks: “Hello, my name is…. May I please speak to Mr. F.”
“No” is my short answer. I’ don’t bother apologising any more for his lack of availability.
“Oh, Ok then. When might Mr. F be available so I can speak to him?”
“In maybe a month’s time, what do you want to talk to him about, maybe I can help you?”
“Sorry, we are only authorised to speak to the account holder. Who are you?”
“I’m his wife.”
There’s a moment’s pause. I can imagine they’re thinking: he’s left her. Messy divorce on the horizon so we’ll have to be even more tight-lipped in case we’re sued for breach of confidentially in the future.
I try to explain.
“He works offshore, month on, month off routine. He only left yesterday. So it’s me who deals with all his stuff when he’s away…”
(Mr. F earns most of the money and pays the bills. As Mrs. F, I pick up the pieces)
But my explanation sounds ridiculously contrived. I can sense the mounting skepticism in their less friendly tone.
“Can you tell me what’s it’s about and then I can pass the message on that you rang? Perhaps he can call you?”
“I’m very sorry,” the voice at the other end starts and I already know where this is going, “we are only allowed to discuss this matter with the account holder…”
It is even worse when I make the call:
“I’ve had a car accident and need to make an insurance claim…. / I’m moving house and need to arrange for my phone and broadband to be transferred to the new address…../ I’ve just had my mobile phone disconnected and I don’t know why?”
However, it makes no difference, I can be sobbing down the line in frustration and begging for an answer but the response is just the same.
“I’m very sorry, it doesn’t make any difference if you are his wife/had the accident/ deal with his affairs. If you are not the account holder we can’t discuss any of this with you….”