Yesterday I had occasion to attend a lunch in the City of London.
Everything went according to plan until I decided to nip into the local branch of my own bank in the high street on my way to the railway station in order to deposit two cheques that I had received in my favour.
You’d think – and indeed my presumption was – that this would be simple, straightforward and involve neither stress nor a great deal of time.
[I may have mentioned on this organ previously – that as a technophobe – I always try to avoid using one of those ‘hole in the wall’ cheque-depositing machine because, when approached by anyone with the surname Ingolby, they are programmed not to obey commands but to instead thwart any attempt to deposit anything, especially repeated ones when buttons are pressed harder and faster and accompanied by more swearwords upon each successive try.]
Accordingly, still retaining my relaxed demeanour upon noting that there was just a single person waiting in the queue to see one of the two members of bank staff at the tills (or rather these days standing computer desks), I strode to the back of the building to take my place at the head of said non-existent queue.
This was the moment at which the proverbial train left the rails.
It is the nature of this planet that when I am out and about and trying to achieve anything, as night follows day – if something can go wrong – it assuredly will.
As I took up my stance my antennae immediately picked up the familiar signs that I might be in trouble.
At the left of the aforementioned two desks was standing a somewhat dapper but frail gentleman I should estimate aged between 80 and 85 wearing a light brown checked pork-pie hat on the top of his head.
All of the above caused my ‘red alert’ signs to begin flashing and buzzing stridently – and, as it subsequently proved – with strong justification.
He was the sort of guy who arrives at this sort of public desk having only the vaguest notion of what he has come to the bank for, where upon his person he has placed his wallet and debit card, what his PIN number is – and, for all I know, if he were to be asked, cannot recall more than 50% of his home address or indeed his own name.
At the right of the two desks, meanwhile, stood a lady of Oriental appearance aged somewhere between 28 and 40 who appeared to be reaching the end of whatever transaction(s) she had come to deal with.
She was wearing a dark-coloured overcoat, glasses, a red woollen beret-type hat and a wholly inoffensive but slightly vacant facial expression.
Unlike my new gentleman friend described above, my antennae instantly told me that this lady could go one of two ways within the next minute.
Either she would gather together her belongings, thank the bank teller profusely for his help and then stride purposefully towards the exit – leaving me to take her place at the desk … or she was going to remain where she was and begin flaffing about. For a while.
Sadly, within said minute, it became clear that it was to be the latter. She began bantering with the teller and then telling him her life story …
With that avenue of progress closed off, I turned my attention back to the old git – sorry venerable gent – at the left desk. On the face of it, he seemed to be coming to the end of his time troubling the youngish female teller.
As I watched his clockwork-slow deliberations upon this dilemma – and a man joined the queue behind me – with resignation I realised that my hopes of depositing my two cheques this side of Christmas were fast disappearing.
After another couple of minutes, during which Methuselah received his print-out and wondered what to do next, I began looking around and noticed another member of staff standing mid-ground floor in a state in which he might be able to assist someone in a hurry to be on his way.
It was then that the female teller uttered those fateful words “And is there anything else I can do for you?”
This having caused another brain-freeze in my fellow oldie I stood stock-still considering my options. After about another full minute and a half he decided that he might like a print-out of his latest statement and I knew my game was up …
He could. I therefore quit the queue, joined him and explained my quest. He could, of course, assist and took me to his computer to do so.
I then explained that I didn’t wish to deposit my cheques in my “Current” account but instead in my related “Instant Saver” account.
He responded that it was beyond his pay grade to do this … and walked me back to the front of the queue I had just left, which by now had three people in it, not one.
After another three minutes – during which I realised that if I didn’t leave immediately for the station I would miss the train I had intended to catch (which would have got me to my destination on time), I was going to be late for my lunch.
And so I left the bank and went on my way.
All those without sufficient brainpower left and/or who are lonely and attend local government offices and/or banks solely in order to engage in human conversation because this is the only opportunity for it they are going to get should either be directed (as part of the Government’s latest ‘social care’ initiative) to a specific teller trained in dealing with such clientele. Or, alternatively and preferably, shot.
To cap what was a disappointing day – this against a background in which I formed the view a long time ago that the US of A had saddled itself with a lunatic President, which also happens to be the uniform view of the global media including Rust correspondents – later over lunch I had to listen to my financial adviser telling me that in fact Donald Trump was doing pretty well and delivering what he had promised his supporters, which is why he (my financial adviser) was currently advising all his clients to move into American investments because these were booming whilst the rest of the Western World’s were faltering.