Code Words at the Bank

In the world of banking, the people on the front lines of the industry are known as tellers. These are the people who are expected to help customers with all of their day to day banking needs. It is often a thankless and miserable position to hold. These are their stories. These are their legends…

Every now and again, we had some important visitors in our bank. Usually, these important visitors were rumored to be floating around town going to different branches at will. These rumors generally kept employees on their toes or on the edge of their seats or on pins and needles, and that’s usually only because it got managers on those same toes or seat edges or pins.

One week in particular, we heard one of those rumors. Rumor had it that our regional president was making the rounds. Not only was he visiting random branches in our area, but he was also quizzing random tellers about some of the new verbiage used in the bank’s operating model.

Late on Thursday of that week, the president of our region came into the branch. We had no warning. We were not prepared for his visit with a practice drill. We were caught completely off guard.Code Words at the Bank - It's HappeningCode Words at the Bank - Stay CalmMy manager caught a glimpse of the president roughly two seconds before he came through our glass doors. His reaction was to jump out of his chair and begin to shout the president’s name across the lobby, attempting to warn the teller line of the impending disaster that awaited us. But the manager also saw that there was a customer in the lobby. That cut him off in the middle of his panicked shout.

So neither of us on the teller line knew what he had said. And then the president entered. In my mind I had imagined this larger-than-life kind of person making a Darth Vader-like entrance with ominous music playing in the background. It was nothing like that. The president was in a rush and completely ignored the peons behind the counter. He went directly to the manager and asked to use the empty office to make a conference call. Thus, it looked like we were off the hook.

While he was on his call, the manager came out to us and quizzed us himself, just to try and prepare us for what may have been coming. The president did eventually come over and introduced himself to us. He seemed like a nice enough guy. I may have had a different opinion of him if he had indeed quizzed us or, in some other way, put any of us on the spot. But he didn’t. He shook our hands, held a brief, but pleasant, conversation regarding customer service, and then went back to make more phone calls.

The next day, we decided we needed code words for when important people dropped by. For the president, I suggested “egg roll.” However, that was shot down because my fellow teller, April, felt that “egg roll” sounded too much like “April.” I don’t hear it, but okay. Eventually, our assistant manager came up with “apples.” I think that sounds more like “April” than “egg roll.” But I guess that’s why I was just a lowly teller, never to move up in the ranks of the banking world.

But there were other important people that tended to get us riled up. My manager had a boss and she dropped by quite frequently. Really, it was only once every other week or so, maybe less. But I believed we should have had a code for her as well. We had a quality assurance type of person that came by on a whim sometimes. She would have been another good one to have a code word for.

And then there was my dream Girl in the White SUV. Since I was no longer the only single guy working at that branch, I’d come to the realization that there was another who would like to gaze upon the beauty inside the White SUV. To be completely honest, whenever my assistant manager was not there and she came to my window, I got some small pleasure out of texting him to brag that I’d just seen her. Since he was usually in his office when she happened to come by, he felt that a code word would be needed for her as well. His suggestion: “Heaven.”

My counter-suggestion: “Soulmate.”

Of course, I didn’t believe in soulmates. Really, I still don’t. So to call her that for the sake of a code word was merely to get a laugh. But when she drove by that very day, that sure is what I shouted across the lobby to let the assistant manager know who was at my window. I’d never seen anyone shoot up out of a chair that quickly before. For a while, we all wondered if the chair even survived the event.


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