“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and money system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.” ~ Henry Ford~
It is late November, soon after Thanksgiving, a woman with a fake smile plastered to her face opens the door and welcomes me inside. The sweet inviting smell of gingerbread wafts out like a meandering tendril of affection pulling me in closer and closer. A giant stuffed pony sits at the ready, seemingly waiting for giant hugs…I must say that it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas; I can almost hear the carolers now but all I hear is “Welcome to Wells Fargo!”
I have been frequenting this bank for the last twenty years or so and I have never seen it quite like this: Ever since Occupy Portland staged a bank protest day the people at the bank have become seemingly friendlier and friendlier. To the banks this may seem like good public relations but it seems too artificial and it is unnerving to me.
I look for the cookies to no avail and I feel stupid for doing that…of course they must be practicing the popular trend of piping in the intoxicating aroma to lull us poor unsuspecting customers into a false sense of security… Trust perhaps?
Banks are big on trust. It seems those with the money and the power are desperate to get us little guys to trust them. I have a piece of advice on that: never trust anyone who keeps bringing up the issue of trust: who says “trust me” or really anyone at all for that matter (except for your family and me–you must trust me)
I see the poor nervous ones in the corner, waiting uncomfortably in comfy plush chairs arranged in a circle in a vague semblance of someone’s living room. They are waiting their turn to see a personal banker. (aka purse string holder) These are the people who help you apply for a loan or help modify your mortgage. Every one of these poor waiting people look sick. One in particular, an elderly man in a frayed jacket with paint stains is visually shaken. I’ve been in that spot before; I feel sorry for them and relieved that I am not among their ranks–today.
It is a strange event when banks won’t take cash from you…Yes cash, that funny green paper we mortals keep passing around, the dirty stuff you must wash your hands after using. We had an envelope of cash–around $300, not much to some but a lot to me. MM hands them the wrong bankcard from another institution of banking and larceny. He receives a disappointed look, like he has been caught cheating. I add to the insult by writing the wrong number on the deposit slip. the teller who resembles Timothy Geithner asks for his ID. He hands it to Timmy but Timmy now squints and gazes at him sideways; MM looks different from the picture with his newish beard and that was that–Timmy refuses to accept the money, seriously. He tells us with utter contempt to return with the correct information. In the past no one has questioned us for such an offense, in my experience banks will always take cash but not today… we are perplexed.
I say to MM: ” I should write about this.” He gives me that “Oh no, not again” look but quickly tries to cover it with a placating smile. I don’t know how he can put up with me sometimes and as the afternoon goes on I ask him and a few others if they have ever heard of any interesting stories about banks in the news lately…especially nice ones as I want to get all angles of this story–Happy bankers, heartwarming tidbits of gleeful giving, perfect for the upcoming Holiday season…I ask this with a straight face. I really want the banks to be able to redeem themselves in my eyes, really, I mean it! …I know what you’re thinking and everyone I talked to thought along similar lines and so all I get are the same placating smiles and polite “No’s”.
I then turn to all that’s fit to print: The internet. The Internet knows all, so when I ask it the very same question, it too gives me the same look and this time a very stern “NO!”
And this gets me thinking…
I felt like the long-suffering wife in a bad marriage; unloved and unappreciated. I looked at myself hard in the mirror, I studied all the newly formed worry lines on my face. I took way too long showers and cried myself to sleep. I binged on chocolate ice cream and listened to love songs and cried even more…well…no, not really but I did have some ice cream and I did do one other thing–for real: I quit that bank. I realised that it really ”wasn’t that into me“ and I withdrew my little sum of money and marched straight to the arms of another love–The local credit union!
“Corporations have no souls but they can love one another.”
Credit Unions VS Banks, the pros and cons (www.huffingtonpost.com)
50 ways to leave your lover by Paul Simon (www.youtube.com)
How Traditional Banking Practices Can Make You Poor (wisebread.com)