Friday, September 27, 2013

At the Bank -- Friday Funny

Still dealing with some stress and anxiety about the robbery, so I thought I'd instead post some humor from my banking life.

A guy called me about a CD renewal, and after a few questions and answers, he started talking to himself. He had been talking for a good thirty seconds before I realized this was going to last awhile. I pulled up a blank email page and started transcribing what he was saying. Enjoy...

This used to be that and that used to be
Now that used to be that and this was
Now I'm going to need this
And now that
And now I have to do this
People ask me how I know the tax code
That can't be right
You don't want to know why I know tax code
It can because that is that and this is that
This one we now require
Now compare this number to this number
And this is that
We've covered that and that and that
Sugar Bear
Now I need a new calculator
I subdivided a property and one rent used to be that rent
But now its a different rent
So I can adjust that and adjust this so this can do that
Now we're going to apply some Tennessee windage
And I know what Tennessee windage is
Circumstances being what they are
Now having said that
I need to up this amount so that I can snort and giggle
Are we over eighty one percent yet
Yes we are
Now we aren't
Yes we are
Yes, no, alright
I'm gonna date this just in case the State comes knocking

How do we get here from there?
Sam, you still with me?

Monday, September 23, 2013

I'm giving the fish to my tellers

For awhile now I’ve wanted to write about the banking industry. What it looks like now versus ten years ago, the changing demographics of branch customers, why you never seem to see the same faces when you go into your home branch, the real reason interest rates are so low, why it takes so long to get a mortgage, and more. But every time I’ve sat down to write on those topics, the scene from Jerry Maguire where Tom Cruise announces he is leaving and declares, “… the fish are coming with me,” comes to mind. I don’t want anything I write to be taken as my manifesto or anything so dramatic, I just think it would be ultra helpful if people knew why banking looks different in 2013.
Unfortunately, if I did write something, the audience would only be the 3 remaining readers of ELEVEN, and well… I doubt any of you are big complainers about the current banking system. But even though there may be better places to share this, I need to get one of those topics off my chest.
Friday morning, my bank got robbed. Two people with masks, everyone corralled into a corner, put the money in the bag, the whole nine yards. We didn’t see weapons and we were left (physically) unharmed, but those kinds of things leave emotional scars that aren’t easy to cover up. Immediately after the bank robbers ran out of the building, one of my tellers burst into tears, and in that moment I questioned if she would ever be a teller again.
And why would she want to? I’ve been in banking over a decade now, and the average teller wage has not increased once during that time. In sharp contrast, the job requirements have gone through the roof. Not only are tellers the FACE of their bank, in the last fifteen years they have also become its leading sales force. That’s right, they have actual sales goals to hit every month alongside the necessity of balancing their cash drawers, all while many banks have changed out-of-balance structures to include fraudulent items which are often completely out of a teller’s ability to control. Oh yeah, and you have the chance of a gun being stuck in your face each and every day. Where do I sign up?
Long story short, if I was making only a dollar or so over minimum wage, was forced to ask, again, the same old lady on a fixed income, if she wants a credit card or a home equity loan, had the chance of being robbed by meth and cocaine–induced assholes, was asked to do a complicated job with little to no formal training, and had very little hope of moving up in my industry, yeah, I’d be willing to switch jobs if the opportunity came my way. And that’s why there is so much turnover in banking.
Thanks for listening to my vent-session. There’s more in my head and chest, but this is enough for now. Be nice to your teller, that’s all I’m asking. They have a lot rougher job than what it looks like on the surface.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Happiness in Sadness

I decided to listen to some Bluegrass on a lunch break last week, and one of the songs conjured up a flashback of a conversation I had with my parents when I was teenager. I can't remember exactly how old I was, but it must have been around fifteen or sixteen. The song lyrics that sparked the flashback went something like, " I was born a bastard child in New Orleans, to a woman I never met." The statement that started the forgotten conversation with my parents went something like, "I kinda wish you two had some dark secret like a kid you gave up for adoption before you were married, or something cool like that." Yeah, I remember using the word cool.

I have often wondered where my fascination with otherwise sad life situations comes from, but there's no denying those kind of tragedies touch an internal nerve I find oddly enjoyable. From imagining my dog dying just to make myself cry as a ten year old, to having full inner monologue back-n-forth divorce conversations with my ex, years before we actually went there. (While I know the latter had nothing to do with our problems, that one is still disturbing.)

I know I'm not alone in this morbid fascination with deep and dark sadness. Heck, Mr. Shakespeare is arguably most famous for his tragedies. And while the majority of people would say they love a happy ending, the reality is you usually pass through either fear or sadness --or worse-- before you arrive at a happy ending, and those situations being bad is what makes the circumstance that comes after, a happy one.

But more than just a desire to experience bad because you know good comes after, is the very realness and intensity that comes with dramatic life situations. Dark events, such as the plots in Shakespeare's tragedies, evoke deep, often unexplainable emotions and shifts in feelings. Those spikes of internal angst, anxiety, confusion, and yes, sadness, are REAL feelings that have no equal. I would even go as far as to say that deep sadness is more intense and leaves more lasting effects than deep happiness.

So if that level of sadness is so intense, why in the world would wack-jobs like me find dark pleasure in that? (Again, I know I'm not alone in this.)

Here's my opinion... deep feelings, even bad ones, are what help us know we're alive. It is probably (on a different level of mental stability) the same kind of reaction in the heart, mind, and soul of people who cut themselves. When those folks are asked why they do such a harmful thing to themselves, the most usual answer is, "I just wanted to FEAL."

On a less dark angle of the picture, think about the romantic overtones people place on some things. Not lovey-dovey romantic, rather the pretty mental pictures of things we aren't or haven't personally experienced. A good example of this is the way we look at the pioneers and the Old West. We tend to think it would be so awesome to live in cute log cabins, walk the streets of prairie towns, cook on open fires, go to community barn dances, wear old fashioned clothes, and on and on. We choose to ignore that those people only had a fifty/fifty chance of even surviving the wagon ride, let alone the diseases, starvation, Indian attacks, and harsh weather they had to endure when they got where they were going.

In the same way, our minds and hearts choose to imagine the romantic side of many modern-day ugly situations like long-lost siblings, secret lovers, a soldier's wife waiting for him, etc. The truth is, those are horribly, deeply sad things that somehow become things we "enjoy" thinking and dreaming about. The question could be asked, why are we so sick and twisted?

The reality of the human condition, is that we aren't all sicko's or crazy in the head... it all has to do with how we process our emotions and how deeply we want to feel. So what's your take on it?