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This Morning at The Bank

Jun 19 | Posted by: Rebecca Loebe |

Walked into the bank and there's an elderly woman bawling. A manager is explaining in a quiet, stern voice that he's on the verge of calling the police. He tells her she needs to resolve the problem-

"I tried to resolve the problem!" She wails. "I tried at the beginning of last month...so this wouldn't happen again..." Her voice trails off.She walks behind me to the seats against the wall. "Get her card," she says to someone, I'm not sure who. She sniffs. "I'm gonna send it to Elizabeth Warren."

A vision flashes through my mind. Elizabeth Warren, dressed as Joan of Arc, charging forth from a beam of white light, ready to defend the meek, the poor, the victims of our banking system that is somehow both too big to fail its investors and too big to protect its customers.

She continues to cry.

Everyone is staring down at their deposit slips. How can this be? How can half a dozen adults all carry on as if we aren't in an enclosed space with a woman suffering so horribly just a few feet away?

I realize I am frozen, clutching my pen and staring blankly down at my own deposit slip. Slowly I turn my head over my shoulder and, for the first time, I see her. Bright fuchsia blouse. White slacks. Geriatric shoes. Cane. Thin, dyed brown hair pulled into a small ponytail at the nape of her neck. I'd bet money that she's someone's grandmother.

"I'm sorry," I mouth silently. As I lock eyes with her my eyes fill with tears.

The corners of her mouth turn up slightly. "Thank you," she mouths back, and resumes crying.

I tiptoe up to the teller. I've filled out the wrong form because my account is out of state. I fill out the correct slip and deposit my weekends earnings. When I turn around the seats against the wall are empty. I walk outside and see her buckling into the passenger seat of a small SUV one space away from my car. We wave at each other. A small girl in the backseat kicks her legs from her car seat.

I approach the drivers side. The woman's daughter, probably about ten years older than me, rolls down the window warily.

"Hi," I say, unsure of where I'm going with this. I just feel the need to connect somehow.
"Can I give you something?" Wariness turns to outright suspicion. I fumble in my purse. "I'm not, like, an evangelist...I'm a folksinger..." Blank stares.

I pull out a CD. "I'm so sorry you're having a hard time...I used to work at a bank and I know... well, anyhow. I'm a touring musician now, and I have this CD...Thought it might cheer you up. I mean, it's mostly sad folk songs, but I thought maybe you'd like it. Anyhow, I'm sorry about whatever's going on. I know it's hard...I...yeah." Really eloquent, Loebe.

They nod and say thanks. I feel the indescribable urge to stay in that moment but a voice in another distant realm of my brain screams that it’s time for this interaction to end, time to take a step back and let them move on with their day.

I get into my car, reverse and drive away, unsure of where I'm even headed. I play the tape back. Why did I do that? Was it for her? Or was it for me? I'm still not sure.

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