Move Your Money

When I moved to Portland in 2003 to begin college, I signed up for an account with Bank of America. Both my parents had used BofA, and I knew that I’d have access to a network of ATM’s back in Phoenix and in Portland. It was a great national option, I liked the colors and the logo, so I signed up without much consideration.

In nine years, I haven’t really had an issue with Bank of America. I kept a nice buffer of funds in my checking account, I’ve opened a couple of new credit cards, and even found a way to make miles with my purchases through the use of the Alaska Airlines card. I didn’t have to take out any major loans, I haven’t bought a home, mortgages haven’t even ended my frame of mind. I dealt only with the tellers when I dealt with anyone at all–stopping by the bank was pleasant but neutral.

Last year, I went to see Inside Job at the Laurelhurst and came out fuming. I had so much anger and nowhere to place it. Wall Street, academic intellectual in economists, Obama administrators, “the system.” I could do little with a vote in the next election cycle, but I hadn’t even been convinced that “our guys” were better than “their guys,” and I couldn’t call myself optimistic for change or for the best realization of the democratic process.

A year later, the Occupy¬†movement started blowing up all over the country. My friend Joe, in particular, tweeted and shared articles of greed: descriptions of excessive spending, accounts of Bank of America’s callous disregard for the homeowners who felt financial strain after the bank’s approval of incomprehensible loans. I read Krugman. And read Krugman. And read more Krugman. Credit unions became a major topic of conversation around me. Friends and I talked about ways to make a small difference. I decided to Move My Money.

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Everything is Texas in Texas

The moment your wheels touch down, things begin to suck. It’s as though the air vents above you have reversed themselves, literally pulling all of the good, fresh, Portland air out into that big Texas sky. Your taxi to the gate is at least ten minutes long, a reflection of a culture that would rather spread wide than build up. When you arrive, you might depart the plane with a newspaper–like I did a few years ago–looking in earnest for a recycling bin for near a half hour before realizing that the other state philosophy is, “Fuck it. Toss that shit in the trash.”

You’re in for a long shuttle to the rental car counter and an even longer drive to civilization. DFW, in particular, is ridiculous in its inconvenient convenience. City planners figured that it’d be better to build the airport in between the encroaching suburbia of Dallas and Fort Worth than to give one the upper hand over the other. You’re at least thirty minutes from where you need to be, no matter where that is.

You follow google maps the smart way into town, and then realize a moment too late that you’ve landed on one of a few unmarked Texas Toll Roads. They’ve recently given up taking cash or credit at their toll booths, a sort of Texas-sized middle finger to out-of-town visitors. “What, y’all don’t have the Easy Pass?”¬†As you approach a checkpoint, cursing under your breath for the last thirty seconds, you begin to envision a maneuver worthy of an action movie: a quick dart across three lanes and a powerslide through a dusty brown field to the service road and financial freedom, maybe spinning a 360′ on the way. Instead, you grit your teeth, pass under the arch, and await the penalty to come in the mail.

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