Next Window Please…


I worked for several banks for around 15 years in several capacities…teller and training officer.  I also did photography, various newsletters(before computer days…) as well as helping out in the HR department as needed.

I started out as a teller in a local branch.  This was in the 1980s and there was no use of computers then…we had adding machines to guide us in balancing at the end of the day(I must add that these adding machines were the old kind…the really old kind…big and bulky).  Balancing at the end of the day was always nerve rending.  Being over or short gave me many a sleepless night by mentally going over all of the transactions and customers of the day.  Being over or short would go on your record…and could mean a reprimand, probation, or being transferred elsewhere or left go.

We had a proof machine area out back and sometimes the two who did that would find your mistakes before you balanced(always appreciated, believe me…we treated those two well!).

The big priority back then was customer service…when the phone rang, it HAD to be answered by the third ring.  Customers were NOT kept waiting in any line without an explanation.  If the line were  long on a busy day, there would be an express line for people who just had a check to cash or a simple deposit.

We weren’t expected to do sales like they are expected to do now…our jobs were to provide “exceptional customer service.”  Drive up tellers were expected to give speedy service…complicated  transactions weren’t permitted at the drive up.

Being a teller meant standing on your feet for 8 hours a day basically in one spot.  I remember well my first purchase was a foot vibrator/soaker.

I chuckle now at some of the experiences I had:

a. The customers who reeked…whether of alcohol, perfume, uncleanliness…after they left, the Lysol spray was sprayed liberally all over the counters.

b. The customer who wouldn’t leave because of long winded conversations or flirting…another teller would come and tell you there was a phone call for you…just to get you off the hook.

c. The incident at the drive up…I was fairly new then and a man came to the drive up, sent in his transaction.  I completed it and sent it out.  Not what he wanted.  He sent it back in.  I did it differently.  Sent it out.  Not what he wanted.  Sent back in.  At this point, I was besides myself and the other tellers couldn’t help.  I looked out the drive up window…his car was there but he wasen’t in it…next thing I know, he came screaming into the branch saying how incompetent I was.  The manager got a hold of him and got the transaction….later came over to me and said I had done the right thing because the customer haden’t given me the entire transaction in the first place!

d. The drive up customer who did lewd gestures.  The manager told him he was no longer permitted at our branch.

e. There was one guy who I knew somewhat from square dancing classes.  He never left me alone and I wouldn’t dance with him.  Well, he found out where I worked.  I saw him coming in with his mother one day and since I didn’t have a customer, I ducked under my counter…went behind the waste can.  My neighbor teller waited on them and when he asked where I was, she replied, “oh, she is out back.”  After they left, she asked the drive up teller(who was directly behind me) where I was…she giggled and pointed behind the trash can.  “What are  you doing there?”  “I couldn’t bear to wait on them.”  “Why, I think he’s cute.”  “Well, good for you…I don’t.”

If there were a customer who had previously given us a hard time and we didn’t want to wait on them, someone else did.  The theory was that if you got rattled, there was a strong possibility that you wouldn’t balance that day.

One bank I worked for briefly only had the drive up open on a Saturday…there would only be one teller there and if it were your turn, you would be there alone and responsible to open up, open the safe and then close up afterwards.  I hated when it was my turn for that.

It’s 16 years since I’ve worked in a bank and believe me, I would not go back.  I use my vintage “next window please” sign on my bedroom window…for any burglers who might have the wrong idea!

til next time…Eva


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