Friday, November 14, 2014

Fridays at the Bank - Nostalgia

When life changes in increments it sometimes passes unnoticed until that one day when you look about and wonder what happened. That was my experience last Friday when I went to the bank and actually went inside to make a deposit. That, in itself, was unusual. I mean, who goes inside a bank anymore?

 The ATM and I have actually become so close over the years that I greet him/ her/ it with a hearty “Hello Machine!” whenever I visit. I do the same in the Self-Checkout line at the grocery. The grocery store machines have always spoken, while the ATM has been mum in a dignified way. But, recently, even my ATM has acquired a voice; which lends a whole new dimension to the relationship which is not unwelcome by me.

So, here I was inside the bank on a Friday afternoon around 3 o’clock and suddenly it struck me. Aside from the one teller, there was nobody there! And I mean there was not one single “customer” in the whole place! I’m 60 years old, so naturally I remember the days before “automatic deposit”, the means by which you are deprived of ever laying eyes upon your hard earned money. This is a process by which your pay has become somewhat akin to a rumor; the facts of which are heard, but the proof never actually seen.

As a man I found automatic deposit to go against the very grain of my natural “hunter gatherer” instincts; by which I was able to “bring home the bacon” each week in the form of the cash I had earned and lay it triumphantly before my wife. Those days are gone; and along with it a life which many women knew nothing about at the time. I’m talking about the world of “wife free” cash.

“Wife free” cash was a commodity which consisted of various means of converting assets; from grocery coupons to bonuses and even gas money; to unaccountable cash. It was somewhat like Nixon’s slush fund; available to be used at the sole discretion of the husband who was brave enough to procure it. And there were quite a few of us. Witness a fully packed bank on a Friday afternoon about 30 years ago.

Back then men never liked to wait in lines; we always tried to fob that off on our spouses. DMV, bill paying etc. were always relegated to the wives. We got away with it by letting them think we did this so that they could feel more secure about the bills being paid on time etc. And some of that was true. But it was all done in the name of credibility, while the reality was that it also masked our pursuit of “wife free” money; and nowhere was that pursuit more in evidence than on a Friday afternoon at the bank.

All the men in line had checks; some had more than one, the second being an “expense” check for re-imbursement of any money the employee had laid out during the previous week; some may have even had a bonus check which their wives knew nothing about; and still others may have kept a few bucks for gas which their bosses were actually paying them back for in that expense check.

There’s no real point to this post; other than to call your attention to a Friday ritual which has gone the way of all the other changes we sometimes call progress.

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