Well , I’m on the topic of in-store customs and one of my readers commented about banks . You know , I thought it might be just our banks in southern Cal. ; never considered that this is possibly a widespread phenomenon . Maybe , could it be world-wide ? The comment came from the other side of the country , from somewhere deep in the cultured wilds of Connecticut , from the Patriot-trailed lands of the American Revolution , The Deerslayer , and Constitution signers . George Washington , perhaps , slept there . George never slept in California , from where I am writing this particular jeremiad . George would have liked it here , I think . Then .
To enhance the in-bank experience , tellers chat customers up nowadays . Maybe you don’t visit banks much and aren’t aware of this relatively recent technique . Would you say , perhaps : Business strategy ? The tellers tend to be young , well groomed men and women . Enthusiastic smiles shine from their attentive faces . ” So , what are you doing today , Mr. Hennessy ? ” , they might ask . ” Got any plans for the evening ? ”
They’re good at it , too , I have to admit . Unsuspecting bank customers might mistake the
nosey inquisitive teller for a life-long friend . ” What’re you doing for the weekend , Mr. Hennessy ? Going to any parties ? No ? Staying home , then , Mr. Hennessy ? ” Always the Mr. Hennessy , too . Maybe , if by chance I have forgotten my name , I’d have it in my head by the time I exit the bank branch . ” Okay . Have a great day , Mr. Hennessy . Anything else I can possibly do for you today , Mr. Hennessy ? ”
Yes , buddy : please lose the professional smile and for heaven’s sake stop the counterfeit chatter . It doesn’t fit with what I would expect a bank’s image to be . It doesn’t make me want to come in again . I don’t crave the companionship so desperately . I know you’re just doing what you were told to do . I’m not really blaming you . But , you should reflect on whether or not ……………………..
I listen to bank customers spew out personal information as if they were talking to a fast friend , as if no one else was around to listen . ” So , what time will you be out of the house tonight Mrs. ………….? Sorry , Mr. …………. , could you repeat that ? And , just to confirm , Mr. ………….. , you do hide your jewels in the freezer ? Thanks , Mr. Hennessy , Swartz, Pelgam, Lee , Reichdotter , Spewmouth , etc. ………….Is there anything else I can do for you today………. ”
I don’t think banks , or their employees , are my best friends . A smile is good ; a kind word is good . Sincerity is good , though , too . The bank will still try to fee me into the poor house no matter what , will still hide the good stuff way down on the bottom of the fourth page in super-fine print .
I went into a bank a couple of weeks ago that advertised a great introductory interest rate . Ada found the ad and asked me to check it out . I read the ad’s fine print . Had to get my good glasses to do it . Read it twice to be sure . A third time , just to be doubly certain .
There was some fishy stuff in that fine print . I asked the bank representative how the deal works with the great introductory rate . He was one of those who sit at a desk ; he was not a mere teller , and he explained the deal ; but he left out the fishy catch mentioned in the fine fine print at the bottom . About this point in time, as I sat there , I realized that this bank was not my bag , not my thing , this guy is not my buddy-buddy , despite his expensive suit and his smooth chatter . Lies by omission .
I asked him about the fine fine print information . If you don’t do six summersaults and recite a sonnet while riding a bank-approved unicycle on the last Tuesday or Thursday of the month , after six months you loose the promised cash bonus ; and thus , all of your wonderful gains go swiftly and silently back to the bank . Imagine that ! The bank officer reluctantly admitted that this little secret bomb inserted deviously into the deal was probably the case and would no doubt happen . He seemed a bit confused , though . He acted as if there was some ambiguity in the agreement , as if no one was quite sure if the wonderful advertised bonus would go back to the bank or not , as if he himself had not read the fine fine print .
” I can read ,” I said to him with a little impromptu phony smile borrowed momentarily from one of the tellers as he sat there in his fine grey bank suit and his bank officer smile at his neat bank desk out there on the bank branch floor . The desks sit out there in the open to pretend , I assume , that the bank has nothing to hide . Hiding in plain sight — I think that’s the expression . Banks . Banks love you(r money ) .
I won’t tell you what bank it was that offered this sleight-of-hand deal . It was a small local branch of one of the big bully ones who did all they could to help ruin the economy a few years ago only to be bailed out later by taxpayers even as the bank officers got healthy bonuses ( and flew to Washington in corporate jets to plead for bailout money ) , presumably for doing such a fine job ripping off the public while enriching themselves .
” Okay , calm down Mr. Hennessy . Is there anything else I could possibly do for you today , Mr. Hennessy ? ”