Thursday, July 15, 2010


Running mundane errands like going into the bank makes me feel all old-timey and stuff. No direct or ATM deposits for this guy. Just walking up to the teller, handing over a check and getting a robotic human response and a receipt. That way I can rest assured my money isn't getting lost in some electronic garbage can.

But Chase Bank (my new bank that bought Washington Mutual which took over from Great Western which was the bank I went to when I closed my Washington Mutual account after I left the state of Washington) wanted to take this human interaction one step further.

I walked into a Santa Monica branch which is usually busy but was currently a ghost town. As in five tellers standing behind bulletproof glass with zero customers. I shoulda used my stopwatch to see how quickly I'd get out of there, because it might have broken a world record.

As I stood at the little island with the deposit slips, filling out a deposit slip, a man in a suit adorned with a piece of flair that read "Chase Bank" came up to me, said hello and asked if I was making a deposit. I looked up from my deposit slip and was about to say "uh, duh..." but instead told him that yeah I was about to make a deposit with these checks right here next to my deposit slip. Or something like that. He said "I'd be happy to help you with that, please come with me."

I have no recollection of why I didn't just say "No thanks" and walk up to the bulletproof glass and the tellers with nothing to do. Something about his spaced out gaze and his metered uneasy delivery was overriding my usually uncooperative nature.

This trip to his desk obviously wasn't going to put me in the Guinness Book of Fastest Checking Deposit World Records, but I went anyway. I sat down and handed him my deposit slip, check, and ID. Of course he didn't have any cash at his desk, so he had to have another employee fetch some. In the meantime, he asked me what I did for a living, which conveniently led us into a discussion of why I needed a business checking account.

Employee #2 came back and said "Here's your cash, sir" and set an envelope down on the desk. I continued telling employee #1 about why I didn't want or need a business checking account, but he interrupted me and asked "Aren't you going to count it? You should count it." His insistence made me nervous that there would be zero cash in there, so I opened it, and yes there was indeed the correct amount of money inside. But in 50s, not 20s like they do at the teller window. I knew it was a bad idea not to go to the teller. I told him "I really have to be getting back to work, so if you have any literature...."

A few more questions along the lines of "How much do you spend on groceries per month, how much on gas, how much on dining out, etc" and I knew the only way out was to politely leave. I told the employee "I have a meeting I have to get to, so if you have some literature, that would be great." He replied, "We can just do the application right now". He obviously had lost his mind somewhere, so I stood up from my seat and said "I really do have to get going now."

He pulled out a business checking pamphlet and his business card, which left a trail of white powder on his desk as he slid them across. We said our niceties, and as I left the bank, I deposited the pamphlet and his business card in the recycling bin. I saw a hand sanitizer dispenser and slathered some on. I pushed my way through the exit, leaving the tellers standing behind bulletproof glass still waiting for a customer. Perhaps I should reconsider depositing at the ATM.

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