Thursday, October 15, 2009

All this for only $25? Curmudgeon at Big Blue Bank

It all started because Younger Daughter was out of money.


Younger Daughter thinks that, because she has a debit card, and because she doesn't like the food served in the dorm, she can dine out as she pleases.

Long Suffering Spouse and I try to tell her that the dorm food is actually paid for. (Well, not this month. Not yet. But soon, I think. Anyway, the tuition, room and board payment must be paid regardless of whether Younger Daughter eats dorm food or not. So she'd better darn well eat it.)

But remember what I said recently about teenagers not knowing the difference between cause and effect? OK, Younger Daughter just turned 20 -- but she still hasn't grasped the concept. She refrains from using the debit card for awhile... but then the Mystery Meat Surprise in the dorm sends her out into the wide world waving her plastic.

This week, Younger Daughter texted me in a panic because she had to write a $15 check for a field trip... and when she texted Big Blue Bank she learned that she had but $10 left in her checking account.

Careful readers will have noted the reference, supra, to Younger Daughter's recent 20th birthday. Her grandmother was generous on that occasion and Long Suffering Spouse and I had hopes that this bounty would tide Younger Daughter over until she began receiving paychecks from her campus job.

That's what we thought.

I called Younger Daughter immediately (my texting skills being inadequate to sustained conversation).

"What happened to the money you got a couple of weeks ago?" I asked.

"Well, I went to get a potato and a Coke and I thought I had enough left over to write this check," she said. "But I didn't."

Please understand that Younger Daughter's Abuela gave her far more than enough for a single potato and a Coke. But that's the way it is with Younger Daughter. She hardly ever lies, not straight out -- but she seldom tells the entire story, at least not the first time through. On this occasion I chose not to press for details.

"Your tuition isn't even paid this month," I told her. Installment payments would be a wonderful thing if the emphasis on the word could only be put on the second syllable. Think about it. But, alas.

"It isn't?" she said.

"I'll talk to your mother," I said. And I did and it was thereupon agreed that I would deposit $20 into Younger Daughter's checking account at the Big Blue Bank. Younger Daughter would just have to eat exclusively at the dorm (and, of course, stay out of the taverns... which, I presume, probably claimed a goodly portion of that birthday money.)

When the time came, I wrote the check for $25. Yes, I know, I'm an old softie at heart.

This deposit was the last of my afternoon errands yesterday. I strode into the downtown office of the Big Blue Bank (that used to be the flagship of a Chicago banking institution before it was taken over by a New York colossus that just posted big earnings yesterday, if I heard correctly). I looked for and found a counter where I could fill in the deposit ticket.

"Can I help you, sir?" asked a tall, dark-haired young woman attired, as are all employees of the Big Blue Bank, in a blue shirt and slacks.

"Thank you, no," I said, "I just need to make a small deposit."

"I can take you at my desk," she said.

"This transaction really isn't desk-worthy," I protested.

"That's alright, sir, it's my job," she said, and I followed, as ordered, back to her little cubicle in the middle of what used to be an enormous open floor.

I explained my mission -- embarrassed that I was taking up someone's time like this for a mere $25 transaction -- and filled in the deposit ticket as quickly as I could.

She took my check and the deposit ticket and said she'd present it for me and told me to remain where I was. So I did.

She came back promptly, but without the transaction receipt. "They'll have that for you in a moment," she said, resuming her seat on the other side of the desk. "This seems awfully labor-intense for something so small," I said. "It's OK," she said, "this is what I'm supposed to do. I have five bosses. Three of them are watching right now."

With nothing else to do while we waited for my receipt, we chatted. She asked questions about what I did and where I banked -- all entirely appropriate -- and, while she was telling me about products and services available at the Big Blue Bank, I drew out from her that she was a recent Marquette history graduate, newly arrived from Wisconsin, and born a Packers fan. She wasn't a classic beauty in the fashion model sense, but she was eminently presentable, wholesome-looking, and very pleasant to talk with. I thought she might do nicely with Middle Son.

See, that's how I get out of feeling like a Dirty Old Man: When I am obliged to chat up a young, pretty girl, as I was yesterday afternoon, I try and imagine her matched with an eligible son. Oldest Son's engagement robbed me of one of my options. I don't know what I'm going to do when they're all married off.

Anyway, the conversation dragged on far too long for my comfort (I can only imagine what the poor girl must have felt!) and, finally, I broached the topic of my receipt. "I don't know what's taking them," she said, rising to leave. "I'll find out."

She stepped out, but came right back in, this time with a blond in tow. "This is Ms. Smithers," she said (only, of course, she didn't say Smithers -- I always make up names), "she handles all our attorney accounts. She'll entertain you while I go get your receipt."


Smithers was shorter than her colleague, but nearly as young, blond, very pretty, rail thin, and a more intimidating presence all together. She was sporting a collar-like silver necklace with sparkly stones (a choker?) which highlighted just where her inevitable blue shirt was open. More awkward conversation ensued, but I didn't drag out this young lady's life story.

The first young lady returned, receipt in hand, and I was obliged to take cards from both women before I could depart. I thanked them both for their pains, apologized again for the insignificance of the transaction, and beat a hasty retreat into the cold, gray afternoon.

If I'd had a hundred dollars to deposit, I wonder, would I have been introduced to the regional vice president?


The Beach Bum said...

Curmudgeon -

Is the big blue Bank the Continental or 1st National of Chicago?

One summer I interned at the Northern Trust Bank (next to the Army, it was the lowest paying job that I ever had).

But back in those days the downtown banks were really beautiful. Real wood counters and marble flooring. Today's banks seem to be sterile, just like their employees. You had the best experience at a Bank that I have heard of in the past 10 years.

Like your daughter, I use my check card (Platinum) for all my transactions, my SS checks are automatically deposited. I haven't been inside a bank since 2005.

The Beach Bum

Shelby said...

That is too cute of a story. :)

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

i love this story, completely entertaining!

smiles, bee