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The Adventures of Frank

A continuing story

Sunday, October 24, 2004; Page W09

Our story so far: Frank Connell tries to make peace with his cousin/business partner, Mike Clements, because their restaurant, the Red Bean, faces more pressing problems: a shut-off notice from the electric company, for example. To catch up on earlier episodes, go to www.washingtonpost.com/adventures.

Episode 16

Frank Connell thunders into his restaurant and flings one shoe across the room. It skids to a stop on the wooden floor, leaving a black streak of rubber.


Frank Connell.

There's a reason for his fury with his footwear. A few nights ago, Frank explains, he walked from the Red Bean to the Mount Pleasant house where he recently began renting a room. It was raining hard, and he left his soaking wet shoes out on the porch to dry.

"You'd think you could leave your shoes on the porch, but nooo," Frank says bitterly. When he came out in the morning, he discovered his shoes had been stolen. Unfortunately, that was his only pair. For three days, Frank relied on borrowed shoes.

Eventually Frank spent $20 for a pair of black slip-on sneakers. He used the business debit card, not realizing until later that this purchase triggered a $30 overdraft charge -- one of many incurred in recent weeks. "I write checks, and I hope the money is there. Half the time it's not," says Frank, who has racked up more than $300 in overdraft fees from Bank of America.

Now a $20 pair of shoes had cost him $50, Frank says. He quickly called Bank of America to explain that his old shoes -- his only shoes! -- had been stolen. Could the bank please cut him a break and remove one overdraft charge? Frank pleaded, but the bank wouldn't budge, which is what has prompted him to throw his shoe across the room.

Frank catches his breath and decides to pay a personal visit to the nearby branch of Bank of America, which he now refers to as "enemy number one." Frank enters the branch, and a receptionist says, "Good afternoon." He gives a distracted wave and makes a beeline to a manager's cubicle. The manager is working with another customer, so Frank waits anxiously.

When the manager is free, Frank lets loose a torrent of words. He doesn't mention his shoes but says that his business is being crushed by all these overdraft fees. Is there a way to get some of them lifted?

The manager apologizes and says there isn't. "You need to manage your account better," he tells Frank. Frank complains that the bank hasn't responded to his most recent application for a line of credit. The manager says he doesn't know anything about that. Finally, Frank throws up his hands and walks away. As he leaves, he announces he's going to transfer his account to Riggs Bank. "That's fine," the manager calls after him.

-- Tyler Currie


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