Have You Hugged Your Bank Manager Today?

I am the grouchiest soul on earth. I swear I am. I copyrighted the art of Creative Bitching. I gripe, caustically, about damn near everything. I utter a low growling noise in my throat when I see most of my neighbors and make the evil eye at dogs and children.

So I do not get this at all.

I had to ask Tommaso the bank teller a question about my linked accounts, and he was a little uncertain about the answer, and said he really would feel better about it if I asked his manager, who wasn’t busy. One thing led to another and we ended up submitting an application to renew the line of credit I carry on my house, which has been a lifesaver a couple of times and could be again if my 22-year-old car turns up its tires unexpectedly (you can’t live without a car in greater Washington, D.C. the way you can in London or New York; my European visitors wouldn’t know whether to laugh, cry or throw up if I elaborated on the details).

The manager is a cheerful Peruvian lady named Isabel, who actually seemed to be having fun with the whole process, and as we wrapped it up I thanked her for the way that everyone at that bank branch always takes good care of me. It’s the simple truth; I am in there twice a week, year round, and they know me and help me. The flip side of being grouchy is showing some appreciation when people get it right. Nothing fancier than that.

“It is a pleasure because you bring such good energy in here,” she said. I do? WTF? I’m just civil, and patient, and treat the tellers like people. I’ve been behind too many counters and registers; it’s one of the reasons I’m such a pessimist about the human race.

She squeezed my hand instead of just shaking it, repeating something about good energy, and I swear, I choked up. I mean, most years during Christmas week, my forays into public places involve dodging ruthless, hurried people prepared to steamroller me in the name of peace on Earth and goodwill toward men. Isabel slid the papers into an envelope, came around the desk and gave me a hug.

I really think that is a first in my experience of bank lobbies.

The expressions in the teller line were indescribable.


8 thoughts on “Have You Hugged Your Bank Manager Today?

  1. Years ago, when I was a greenhorn rather than a crumpled horn, I would queue up at Somerset house to lodge legal papers. When I say “queue” I mean “queue”, not an attachment to some social gathering at a bank where the manager hugs the customers while I wait.

    One day when I arrived at the grill after an hour or so’s meditation, the civil servant there, well versed in finding minor deficiencies, bade me make a certain inconsequential adjustment to a document and rejoin the static procession at the end.

    “Are you human?” I asked.

    “Some say so,” said he.

    I could do with some of that energy. Is it on eBay?

    • I think it’s just that I have always made a point of appreciating the courtesy and professionalism of the people at that bank — they’re exactly the people who wouldn’t send you to the end of the line again. It seems to be that location (when I had to do business with their main office in Richmond, it was like trying to milk a stalactite). Given that I’m in there twice a week and that at least once a month I see some other customer being a compleat horse’s ass over nothing much, I guess it built up good karma.

      I once was in line behind a guy who goes to my gym and I think is a doctor of some kind, and he felt the need to repeat loudly to the teller that he was “a professional” several times, apparently expecting something to be done just-so because of this status. After he exited I stepped to the window and said matter of factly, “I’m a professional too, but I’ll try not to be an asshole about it.” Whatever kind of energy that represents. I mean, someone had to reset the meter there.

  2. I don’t think I’ve been inside a bank for about 2 and a half years. I love the ‘holes in the wall’ as they’re called in the UK (ATMs to the rest of you). They dole out my money, day or night, without any necessity for human interaction, which suits me just fine.

    However, I do love it that I know the brother and sister who run my local grocer’s by name, and that we can enjoy a chat each day as I buy my fresh veg 🙂

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