Take That To The Bank…

Written by mitch on. Posted in Uncategorized

I went to the bank this morning. That may not sound like a big deal to most of you, but it is for me.
You see my bank is a commercial bank that doesn’t have a branch in our community yet. So, going to the bank means getting in the car, leaving the shop for almost an hour and driving to someplace someone else calls home. Aside from that, in this age of electronic credit card and check processing there isn’t cause to run to the bank every day. Not unless you’re about to run out of change, need a notary or have papers you need to sign.
In my case, I was about to run out of change this morning, I did need something notarized and there were some papers waiting for me at the bank. It was an inconvenience, certainly. But, because I don’t really leave the shop all that often I chose to look at it as an adventure… and, an adventure it turned out to be.
When I got to the bank there was a fairly long line of people waiting. They weren’t waiting for the manager to open another window. Every window was open.
They were waiting for one of the three people being helped to finish their transactions. The problem appeared to be the nature of those transactions. Each one was more complicated and convoluted than the next. The guy on the left insisted on having everything explained to him: everything, more than once and in more than one language.
I didn’t see the armored truck, but I’m sure that’s how the woman in the middle got to the bank. If she didn’t transport that much cash in an armored vehicle she was sure to be ‘packing’ or just plain foolish!
The guy on the other end just wanted to hang out or at least that’s what it looked like.
I was already looking at my watch and starting to get nervous when my turn finally came. I took my place at the window at just about the same moment the woman to my right moved up and that’s when the fireworks started. She was incensed! Livid, in fact! Using language that would have embarrassed Lenny Bruce, Andrew Dice Clay or maybe even Chris Rock.
She was somebody’s bookkeeper or personal assistant and whoever it was she worked for had left her in charge of their financial affairs which included a small personal bank account awaiting their return to California from out of state. Apparently, the account had a balance more than sufficient to sustain itself in their absence. Or, at least, it would have had someone not forgotten to “turn off” a service paid for through an automatic withdrawal: a service that really wasn’t being utilized during the owner’s absence anyway.
How do I know all this? It would have been hard for anyone with close to normal hearing standing where I was not to know the whole sordid story. The more involved in sharing her anger, the louder and more vitriolic she became until everyone in the bank had stopped to watch.
It seems everything had gone along fine until the automatic payments drained the account and the one or two small checks that were being written from it began to bounce. Because the account was not being monitored and because the mail tended to languish for extended periods of time before being opened – the bank’s charges accumulated until they exceeded what had once been the balance.
Now, the woman was trying to blame everyone in the Western World but herself for what had transpired. To compound matters, the bank branch she was raising hell in wasn’t even the branch that held the account. It was just the closest and most convenient.
It was the manager’s fault for not calling… or, maybe, the teller’s. It was ‘criminal’ for the bank to charge for handling the overdrafts or the checks or the account or anything for that matter. It was unreasonable, unfair, unrealistic… and downright un-American!
It was fascinating. Like watching a train wreck or an explosion! This woman had brought the entire bank to its knees. Everyone’s eyes were on her, including mine.
Then, she turned to me, pointed at the manager and associate she was in the process of crucifying at that moment and demanded that I tell them she was right!
I looked at my watch and realized the only way I was going to get out of that bank and back to the shop on time was going to depend upon whether or not I was willing to throw the entire branch under the bus. I thought about it for a second and realized I just couldn’t do it, especially since I couldn’t see what the bank had done wrong. So, I did the only thing I could as foolish and dangerous as it may have been. I looked her in the eye and told her I wasn’t going to tell anyone in the branch they were wrong because in my opinion, they weren’t! After all, it wasn’t their account that had been allowed to go inside out. They were merely acting as its custodian.
The question I had was where was the person responsible for that account? Where was the person managing the money? 
“Where were you while all this was going on? How come you never saw the account balance drop? How come you didn’t realize you were paying for services you no longer needed? How could you have missed the bank’s notices?
Where the hell does ‘personal responsibility’ fit into your rant?”
She never answered. She just glared at me and then stormed out. I got a round of applause from the other customers and hugs from the staff, but somehow that wasn’t very satisfying.
This woman had gone on a tirade in the middle of the day in the middle of a busy bank: a busy business, just like yours or mine.
She blamed everyone else for what was wrong in the bank, with the bank and with the country, in general. She listed a dozen reasons the country is falling apart. But, she forgot the only one that matters, the one I mentioned a minute ago: personal responsibility, the willingness to accept responsibility for our own actions or our own failures to act.
What’s wrong with just about everything I can think of isn’t the country. It isn’t even our so-called leaders. It’s the people: the people who are too busy looking at everyone else for the cause of their misfortune when ultimately the responsibility is almost always their own.
You want the bank account to be there when you need it? Check up on it every once in a while.
You don’t want your checks to bounce? Make sure there is enough money in the account and open your mail every once in a while: open it and read it!
You want better government? Educate yourself about the issues and choose better leaders. Get involved.
You want your marriage or your relationships to work? Work at your marriage or your relationships.
Before starting a sentence with, “You…” Think about starting the same sentence with, “I…” and then think about what kind of a difference that might make.
I left the bank a few minutes later and made it back to the shop on time, albeit it barely.
I thought about what had just transpired all the way home thinking to myself, it doesn’t get much more complicated than taking responsibility…
And, that’s something you can take to the bank!

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I am a fourth generation, forty-sixy year veteran of the automotive aftermarket: an ASE Certified Master Technician, Service Consultant and Approved Automotive Manager. I grew up in this business with a passion for all things mechanical, particularly those things relating to performance. That passion grew to include all aspects of management, leadership and personal development with a special focus on every day shop operations which resulted in an eight-volume series on automotive shop management published by Cengage Learning and Thomson Publishing. I have been a trade journalist writing to the aftermarket for almost thirty years, devoting my professional life to improving both the image and experience of everyone struggling to succeed in the service industry and I've worked diligently to improve communication and increase understanding between all segments of my industry. This site and everything on it is both an extension and a continuation of those efforts

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