I had expected today to be excruciatingly slow, but as it turns out, it has been full of excruciatingly tedious business. Not only did I write commitment letters, send out two wires and open four savings accounts, but I also had to handle some 401K and IRA questions, about which I know nothing. Although my position here at the bank is more commercial loans assistant and less customer service representative, I wind up spending much of my day helping customers balance statements, opening accounts and dealing with complaints and problems. In light of the number of times today I have heard "You people keep charging me," "I can't be overdrawn because I never write checks. I only use my debit card" and "I've had my account here for twenty years," I offer these words of advice to non-bankers everywhere:
Please understand we banks are not enforcing rules just to make your life miserable. Not only are we a business with the ultimate goal of making money, but we have federal standards with which we must comply. And, more to the point, I am not personally responsible for the charging of fees, the requirement to present ID or the speed with which checks clear your account. I only work here. Don't shoot the messenger. Yes, using your debit card with reckless abandon and complete disregard for your account balance will cause you to be overdrawn. And it doesn't matter how long you've had your account in a bank or how many employees you know, you are still subject to the same rules as everybody else. If you see that my desk is covered in papers, that I am feverishly typing on my computer, do not come up to me and say "Are you busy?" Yes. I am. Obviously. If I'm on the phone, please do not hover at my desk or try to interrupt me. That customer on the phone is just as important. I won't ignore you, I promise. Additionally, I am incapable of figuring out the error in your account if you don't maintain a register or ever balance your statements. And if you don't balance your checkbook, please do not yell at me because you assume the bank has made a mistake. How do you know a mistake has been made if you don't know how much is supposed to be in your account? Also, please be patient with us bankers. When you're sitting at our desks and we're furiously typing in all of your personal information, when we're asking you everything about yourself (including mother's maiden name, two forms of ID, occupation, address, Social Security number, and just barely stopping short of asking you when you last had a good piece of ass), when we're printing out a million pieces of paper that you will have to sign, when we hand-write in any information that didn't print on the documents for whatever reason, PLEASE do not roll your eyes, check your watch and make us feel like we're keeping you from saving tsunami victims. I had three men at my desk a few weeks ago, who were all admittedly "doing nothing today because of the snow," all complain that their transactions were taking too long. I understand that you don't want to spend time in a bank. If I didn't work here, I wouldn't want to either. But we're not magicians. We can only go as fast as our programs allow us. We're not purposely going slowly just to screw up your day. Trust me, the faster we get you out of here, the sooner we can hop on the internet. We are trying. I swear.
I've always said that the two worst professions in the world are working with people's money, and working with people's food. Because people are very sensitive when it comes to their checkbooks and their dinner. That's why I try to never walk up to someone's desk when they're obviously working, because I know how much I hate it. I think I can recall one instance where I sent food back at a restaurant, but I made sure I was kind to the waitress because I knew it wasn't her fault. Of course, there are situations when we as consumers just can't bear to be kind any more. I've had waitress roll their eyes when I asked for a side of sauce at a pizza joint. I've had tellers completely ignore me when I'm waiting in line to make a deposit. And I work here! I understand the frustration. And in an instance like that, I say you have all the right to get upset and demand your service. But if someone's being nice to you, really trying to make your time pleasurable, why not drop the asshole act and just be nice back?
But for every enormous jerk, there is some levity each situation offers. I have one customer, a man, who never smiles or looks at my face, but always stares straight at my boobs. Each time he visits my desk, he does his very best to let me know that I am sitting in the presence of greatness - Or at very least, in the presence of wealth. The last time I had the pleasure of his company, he told me no less than ten times that he had a boat. He would interject it into the conversation in the most shameless ways possible. Some examples:
"You were engaged to a cadet at West Point? I have MY BOAT docked up by West Point."
"Have you ever seen the New York City skyline from the water? Sometimes I travel in MY BOAT down the Hudson and just look at the skyline."
"Last summer, I was on MY BOAT, and I thought 'I ought to start investing my money.'"
"You know, MY BOAT is the exact same color as your sweater."
"Do you know of anywhere around here that I could store MY BOAT?"
"All that snow out there sure makes me miss the summer...and MY BOAT."
Gee, I wonder if he has a boat.
He also says things like "I saw you driving to work today," and "I saw you this weekend at the stoplight," and he will always follow it with "Did you see me? I was in the blue convertible BMW." When I respond that I must've missed him, he tells my boobs that he has many cars, so he's not surprised that I don't recognize him.
Ahhh, customer service is riveting.