City life – the bank

I enter the back door of the Wells Fargo branch. In the middle of Minneapolis, every visible worker in this bank is East African, most women wearing brightly colored dresses, their heads covered.

A smiling woman greets me and tells me that Baader will help me right away, at the window over there. The sign on the window says something about business accounts, but no matter. Baader (he has only one name) asks how he can help me today.

Just a deposit. (I’m here to make a deposit for Ron. He has an account at Wells Fargo. I don’t, but my office is in the bank building, right across from the ATM machine.)

Okay – Baader inspects the checks. “So these are for Ronald? And he is at home resting and sends you out to do the banking – lucky guy!”

Then he looks at the checks again. “Mary? It is Mary, is it not?”

Yes, it is. I wonder how he knows.

“Well, you both have to sign this one, and he has only signed it. We cannot deposit it without you, too.”

It’s an insurance check. I sign.

“Do you have ID?”

Yes, but it’s in the office. Just a minute, I’ll go get it.

“No, no, no worries, I know who you are.”

He proceeds to do the math again. “A good job on the math!” He compliments me, then inquires whether Ron did the math or I did it, speculates on how nice it is that Ron can stay at home and take a nap, asks what I will do for the rest of the day. “Just work? Oh, that’s too bad. What do you do?”

I edit the Twin Cities Daily Planet.

“Ah, the Daily Planet, that is very good, I like that. Thank you for the work you do there.”


More courtesies — I think we should be bowing or something. My husband is lucky, I do good work, we are all friends.

As I leave, the woman who minds the door tells me that she tried to open the outside door for me on Monday, but I was too quick.

Ah, yes. The ATM lobby door has been broken all week, refusing to open for credit cards in the slot. Monday was one of my early days, with the bank not yet open at 8 a.m. I went around the building the other way, to enter through another door with my key.

“I tried, but you were gone!” She is happy to tell me, to make some connection. “But now it is all fixed. Have a good day!”

In the beginning, I felt a little strange, having an office in a bank building. Now, I watch familiar people passing by the big window, and know by the long lines at the ATM that it’s the first of the month, and complain about the bad driving in the parking lot, and I am very happy to work in this village.

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