I’m sad. I’m sad because the bank that I have been going to for the past 35 years – the Durham branch of Citizens – is closing. I feel like I am losing a treasured friend. Which I am. These people, all of them, for the entire 35 years, have become part of my circle, and I will miss them dearly. It’s such a lovely thing to walk through the door and be greeted by name; to be able to talk about our day or our lives with each other. When I had bruised my ribs, they cared, and every time I went in I was asked, with genuine concern, how I was feeling. They really wanted to know.
Memories of our time together are front and center these days. Like when my boys, my little dog, and I would go through the drive-thru and be treated to lollipops and milkbones. (The kids got the lollipops!) Back in those days I was driving a monster of a car that sounded like a turbo engine, so that they could, probably literally, hear me coming a mile away. Her name was Nellybelle, and somewhere along the way she had managed to part with the side mirrors she was born with, and had acquired make-shift mirrors that were attached with a bar and jutted out into the next county. I always had to make sure I didn’t take out half of the bank with them.
Here’s an example of how good these folks are to me. I have, more times than I care to admit, gotten into a teensy weensy bit of trouble, checkbook-wise. The numbers did not add up, or at least they did not add up to my advantage. So I would put in my SOS call to the bank, and the manager at the time would sit with me, patiently going over everything. He always spotted the trouble. It was usually something like fees for this, that, or the other thing going up, which I had failed to notice. The man had the patience of a saint. And he would take off the fees that my faux pas had incurred. Like I said, a saint.
Then there was the time this past summer when something inexplicable occurred, but in hindsight was funny. I had come out of the bank and gotten into my car. I don’t know how or why but that darn alarm went off, blaring and screeching wildly. I tried to get out of the car to see if I could turn it off with that thingamajig that your key is attached to, that has a button on it that you can push to silence that ear-splitting sound. And here’s the funny, inexplicable part. I could not get out of the car. The door was locked, and pushing the button to unlock it was of no avail. I do not know what I had done to anger Lila (my car). Did she think she was overdue for a tune-up, or a rotation of her tires, and was trying to make a point?
So I sat there because it was obvious that there was nothing else I could do. But then Kevin, the manager of the bank, came out to determine the source of the noise. I handed him my keys through the window, and he unlocked the door, at which point peace reigned once again. Kevin said he had never seen anything like that before. We had a good laugh. I called him my hero, and he said he would always keep his cape nearby.
I’m really going to miss these people.