Cooper Goes to the Bank
Today, I, Cooper Meek, am a man on a mission. I left my house full of the usual angst and unknown dread. As I am walking down the street, I can feel the people looking at me, but I know they don’t understand me. I walk by them, and they are always wanting to engage me. That is if they are not so busy looking at their cellphones. I never look at my phone while I am walking. I am always afraid I will be hit by a bus, even though there are no busses anywhere near where I live. But you never know they could be going into an unknown bus repair shop and happen down my street. My mother would be proud of me for taking this precaution. A person can never be too careful in life. But if they are not looking at their phone, my almost magical ability to cause people to make eye contact with me is set in motion. Perfect strangers, who know nothing about me. They look deep into my dark blue eyes for one brief second and then quickly look away in embarrassment. Our worlds have collided, but neither one of us knows what to do with this moment. Sometimes we smile wanly at each other. Sometimes, we both look away like we have just robbed the bank down the street and are afraid we will be caught. Occasionally we will both mutter a virtually indistinct “How’re you.” This is almost always followed by the quick turn of our eyes in any direction but where they just were. We all pick up our pace and walk briskly away. Each acting as though there is an incredibly important meeting we must get to, or we will never have world peace.
But I am not letting this phenomenon deter me because, today, I am a man on a mission. I am about to open a new bank account for my business. I tried last night to set up the business account online. First, I spent forty-five minutes filling out the forms. Then I was required to decide what type of bank account was best for my fledgling endeavor. Did I want the Basic Beginner account and pay no fees and be limited to three transactions a month? That did not seem like a good idea. Maybe I wanted the Money Maker account with 26 transactions with no fees. Any transactions over this random number would have charges unless you maintained a balance of $50,000. Hmm, am I going to be that successful? Or maybe I wanted the Super-Duper Dollar account that sends all info to my accountant, balances itself, and entitles you to unlimited banking perks (none of which are listed). Once that decision was made, I had to select from their three credit card options. Since I was going to be a true businessman and forever deep in debt this would be an important move. Did I want instant money back? Did I want the money to amass into a small fortune for future use? How much is .0075% of anything anyway? Do I want frequent flier miles? Now I must decide if I want to leave my house and go someplace? Where would I go to get these miles? After much angst and drinking another Topo, all decisions were made. I press the complete button. ACCESS DECLINED!!! I was denied access to the final send button. How could this happen? I had been a good American believing in the system. I had followed every direction. The screen informed me that I would have to make an appointment at my local branch and meet in person with a banker. Oh well, at least I now know all the Information needed to make this run smoothly. I was then directed to the calendar to choose a time. But no matter what time I chose or what day I chose there were no openings. But hey, this assured me I had picked the bank where everyone wants their money to be deposited in safety and security!
This morning, I decided to call my local branch to see how the appointment process works and to speak with a business banker. I tried multiple times during the morning but each time it was but a hollow ringing sound in the vast empty reaches of high finance. I was not to be deterred. I changed from my sweats and flipflops to my jeans with the least holes and my best NIИ tee shirt, and my Nikes. I applied a little product to my curly strawberry blond hair to keep it from looking like a circus clown wig. Took a quick gander in the bathroom mirror to make sure my beard and teeth weren’t wanky. Drawing myself up to my full 5’9” height I tried to convince myself I was a young entrepreneur headed up the ladder of success. I walked the four blocks from my home to the big yellow brick edifice with is multiple red, white, and blue signs. I stepped into the lobby, being careful to stand on the orange footsteps and look purposeful. While the deposit queue was long, l stood back to wait to speak to the gentleman in a dark shiny suit that seemed to be directing traffic (or possibly trying to quell a riot that might break out if someone of a more volatile temperament than myself had tried to open an online account). He eventually approached me and asked if he could be of service. My response was, “Yes sir, you sure can. I want to open an account with your bank.” There it was my declarative statement that we would be forever united by my major decision to entrust his bank with my entire fortune. His slightly snarky response was “Do you have an appointment?” I immediately explained that last night I had tried for over an hour to set up an account and an appointment online. But an unknown icy finger living in the depth of the system had reached out and frozen the send button. When I was not permitted to select an appointment date or time l realized that I needed to make human contact to resolve the issue. I, also, explained that I had called numerous times to set up an appointment, but each time no one answered. “Oh sir, we never answer our phones,” his deep voice condescendingly replied while flashing a gracious and endearing smile. Somewhat taken aback by his response, my mind was quickly whirring away at what the purpose of the phones might be. Was it to make 911 calls to request stretchers to remove customers who had passed out from their long wait in line? Perhaps they existed for the staff to order pizza for lunch. Maybe they just call each other to chat. Or maybe, they were never taught how the phone system works and so the easiest way to manage it is to just look at the ringing black thing sitting on their desk, shake their head in wonder at the sound emanating from the contraption, put their headphones back in place and go on with life. It is a conundrum that I plan to ponder in the dark of night. Of course, my response was “Really?”
However, when I explained that I had all my paperwork and $20,000.00 seed money to start my new business venture, he suddenly became extremely interested in me as a client. Before I knew it, I had been seated in a cubicle, behind a big shiny mahogany brown desk. The gentleman with the inability to answer phones revealed himself as Jeffery, the bank manager. Then two young female bankers, Roxie, and Cathy, mysteriously appeared thru almost invisible beige doors from behind me. We quickly filled out all the necessary forms. I was assured that the forms would be forwarded to the primary business department hidden in some subterranean vault and I would be emailed tomorrow by Roxie about the final steps to making a deposit thus joining their secret league of satisfied customers. I walked away knowing I was in capable hands. After all they had all smiled so much and been so gosh darned friendly how could these folks ever let me down. A smile was on my face. A skip was in my step.
That was two days ago. Yesterday I emailed Roxie to inquire about the status of my account. I received no response. I checked again this morning; I was still coming up crickets. Knowing not to call, I decided to brush my hair. check my teeth and don my business attire once again. I would make my pilgrimage to the brick-and-mortar bank. I arrived at four minutes to ten. I joined the cadre of my fellow bank patrons with their checks and deposit slips clutched firmly in hand. All huddled anxiously around the silver handled glass door peering in expectantly waiting for the kind person who was going to fulfill all our monetary needs and patiently answer our urgent questions. The minutes, 10:01, 10:02, 10:03, 10:04 crept slowly by. There was a restlessness developing in the crowd. Not being bi-lingual, I didn’t know for sure what was being said, but I knew what my developing thought pattern was “What the F… is going on here.”
At around 10:06, the door was opened about 15 inches and a tiny lady in a navy-blue pant suit squeezed her body thru the opening. Once out, she quickly locked the door. Turning to the group she started explaining that there wasn’t anyone at the bank that could take their money today. They would all have to go to another branch. After much back and forth between the incredulous patrons, every one left but me. All the while, she was quelling the uprising, I kept wondering why she couldn’t take their money herself? Was she part of the cleaning crew sent out to protect the cowering bankers inside? What about depositing it at the ATM? Or if she didn’t know how to use a computer, I would have been happy to give her quick course. Or why not divert to the old-fashioned way, just make an excel spread sheet or Google sheet listing each person and the amount they wanted to deposit and their account numbers. Stamped their checks. Give them a receipt and enter the data latter. And Bob’s your uncle problem solved. But I was thinking real world think– not thinking banking world think.
In coming back to the moment, I quickly realized I was about to be left without having my concerns addressed. I stepped forward displaying my brilliant, how could you not give me what I want smile and began explaining my plight. I told her of my application, the promise of an email from Roxie and, whipping out my coup de gras, my newfound “best bud” relationship with the branch manager, Jeffery. She smiled, gently shaking her head sideways with a pitying look on her face and informed me that Roxie had left on a two-week vacation yesterday. But wait, wait, how did Roxie not know she was going on a two-week vacation when she smiled her big, brilliant smile and promised to have an email out the next day with my account all set? But the crushing blow came when she explained to me in her most beguiling voice that no one at the bank could help because no one knew how to open the bank vault that had all the patron’s money and, most importantly, had my paperwork stored in it. What! One of the largest banks in the United States of America doesn’t enable its employees to open a friggin’ vault? Now I’m wondering is this a real vault, a virtual vault, or did they mistakenly take all of my paperwork and shred it with no one wanting to own up that it was them? I asked her if she could give me a contact for me to resend my forms. She said she would check. She unlocked the door. Opened it just enough for her to slither through disappearing into the blackness of the huge building. I pressed my face and hands against the glass trying to see if there were any other creatures in the hidden recesses. I continued peering into the glass void for fifteen minutes knowing in my heart she would never return. She was but a hologram, a bit of miasma sent by the dark forces of banking to appease the unsuspecting masses that follow conventionality like lemmings to the sea. As for me, I have decided to leave my $20,000 safely tucked away in the shoe box under my bed and deal only in Bitcoin!