July 7, 2014

Delayed Gratification

Call it a case of the Meandering Mondays or just go ahead and say I'm trying to kick a case of Writer's Block. Whatever you wanna call it, somehow I got stuck on banks. If you're old enough, you remember there was a time when people actually visited the lobby and talked to tellers. It usually happened Saturdays since banks closed at 5:00 weekdays, and most people were working and couldn't make it to the bank by that time. The banks were open on Saturdays, but only until noon; so everyone had to make it there before closing...and heaven forbid you had a kid in tow:

Through tall glass double doors and into the lobby, traffic’s noise gives way to The Most Beautiful Girl or some other muzak. Everything there soaks up sunshine – from the navy blue carpet, to personal banker desks flanking each wall, to the velvet ropes and signs that instruct Wait Here for the next available teller.

An intimidatingly tall oblongish table dominates the lobby’s center. On it are slips of neatly stacked paper resting next to pens that are attached by silver chains to the big table. One by one, customers approach the table, take a slip and pen, and scribble some kind of financial hieroglyph, crumple it up, take another and begin scribbling again.

The line of tellers stretches from wall to wall. Clad in polyester outfits matching the carpet’s navy blue, they count out loud…and that’s five, ten, fifteen, twenty… and each counted bill snaps against veneered countertops in rhythm to Knock Three Times.

Photo: Creative Commons Fly, Flickr
The velvet ropes where people obediently heed the instruction to Wait Here are heavy. Their metal ends clang a little when accidently shaken by nervous adult or purposely by a bored child. An anemic rendition of Afternoon Delight whines against the scribbling and the clanging.

Somewhere in the long line of customers fidgets a kid whose spine and legs threaten to wet noodle and drop them to the floor in fit of sheer boredom.

An available teller’s Next Please saves that kid (and parent too) from wet noodle fate. After the business transaction is transacted, the kid receives a sucker from the teller.

My childhood was filled with long, taxing lessons in delayed gratification like the weekly Saturday trip to the bank. I guess this generation’s kids of twenty-four-hour banking and ATM cards will have to learn the same lessons another way.


  1. I loved this. It'd be a great guest post on my blog if you want to cross-post. Or maybe I could actually WRITE for a change and cross-post to you...The ritual around one's money in those old, august bank lobbies. Takes me back.

    1. Thanks Lisa!
      It totally WAS a ritual, wasn't it? Something in me misses them in a weird sort of way. :)
      I love the cross-posting idea! Never had a guest over here on The Late Arrival, so you'd be my first! Let's hammer something out...email me at rmoniquef@gmail.com.
      Looking forward to hearing from you!