I Just Had The Weirdest Banking Experience of My Life

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I just had the weirdest banking experience in my life. I just cashed in some EE savings bonds for y2k reserves. (Any thieves out there, calm down, it went straight into my bank box) I am a business man. I wear a pin striped suit, grey hair, blah, blah blah, and these were EE bonds that I have held in my name for a little over ten years. In other words, anyone can see from the face of the transaction that there is nothing in the least bit questionable about the source of the money.

Furthermore, this was not anywhere near the $10,000 level. It was way, way less than that. I did ask for all of the money in $10 bills. When I did so, I asked if it was any problem in getting the money in $10s. The teller said it was no problem at all, that they had plenty of $10s. Fine, I cashed the bonds. It took the teller a few minutes to calculate the bond payment amount, retrieve the bills and count everything out.

As the teller handed the money to me she smiled and very jovially asked, "What are you going to do with all those 10's?" I was floored. Granted, it's a bit unusual to ask for more than $100 or so in tens, but I have never in 30 years had a banker ask what I was going to do with my own cash. I hardly knew how to respond. I told her the truth by saying, "I don't know, but they'll go somewhere."

I really don't know what to make of all that. In my psyche, a banker is, if nothing else, discreet by profession. To be questioned out loud in the lobby of a large bank about my use for *my own* money has me somewhat rattled. Again, this was not a large amount of money. In normal times I would have kept walking to the President of the bank and we would have had a small discussion. However, in this whacko y2k world, I left and drove straight to my safe-deposit box. Don't make waves.

Maybe this doesn't seem like a big deal to you. I don't know. Maybe this particular teller was just mouthy, but to me it's weird.

-- Zorro (whatcountrydowelive@anyway.com), February 10, 1999


I think I probably would have gone ahead and had that chat with the president of the bank. It was probably just a "mouthy" clerk, but I think most of us wander around these days with a heightened sense of awareness for things out of the ordinary. Just because it was probably a coincidence, however, is no reason to rule out the possibility that the herd is staring to low.

-- Vic (Roadrunner@compliant.com), February 10, 1999.

Zorro, did you consider that maybe she was hinting that you might spend some of those bills on HER? Maybe she's lonely and, hey, apparently your loaded, so what's a girl to do? I wouldn't read more than that into it, persomnally.

-- Ivanna (nice@date.tonight), February 10, 1999.

Banks are trying to understand the phenomenon, so they can deal with it. We're more used to this when journalists do it. The spotlight of public scrutiny is on preparers, their food, their wicked, wicked GUNS, their selfish hoarding - not the code failure, not the mismanagement that led to the failure, not the fact that it's too late, not the lies about compliance... Banks are gearing up for a similar PR assault, specific to their trade. They want to know their customer.


-- E. Coli (nunayo@beeswax.com), February 10, 1999.

E. Coli, great quote! Management and government should be keelhauled for getting us into this situation. Instead they want the boy scouts to twist in the wind.

-- Zorro (whoknows@where.com), February 10, 1999.

Might be pushing the paranoid stuff a bit. I run a business and play with cash at the bank all the time. No problems. But, when I have asked for unusual amounts in strange denominations they have asked out of curiosity. It's ok with me, I regularly ask them about THEIR business and we all gossip together. I regard them as an intell source. Most of them are customers of mine as well.

Last time, I was asking for all the kennedy dollar coins they could get me. I amassed several hundred before they finally gave in and asked. Apparently they had a bet cuzz several came over to hear the answer. I told them they were for gifts to kids (truth) and they all giggled over it and nobody won the bet.

Just cause they are tellers does not mean they are not human. Now..if they had me fill out a form, or they made it clear I HAD to answer, then all hell would break loose.

-- art welling (artw@lancnews.infi.net), February 10, 1999.

You should've taken a deep breath, run your mental clock forward 320 days, and answered:

They are bum-wipe and bird-cage lining!

(apologies to the master poet who posted this phrase)

-- Blue Himalayan (bh@k2.y), February 10, 1999.

Art, I wouldn't have been nearly as surprised if I had a chatty relationship with these tellers. If I had been on a joking basis with them, I wouldn't have been as taken aback. Aren't tellers trained to mind their own business during normal banking operations?

-- Zorro (where@ever.com), February 10, 1999.

Blue Himalayan,

Some people get it, some don't!

-- freeman (freeman@cali.com), February 10, 1999.

Maybe it'll be bird-cage lining, maybe not. But woulda made a good comeback for Zorro all the same ;-)

Zorro, I agree with you, it would have been very disturbing to me. It's none of their business and I never had the experience of a teller being less than professional in minding thier cud. Did this teller seem to be an otherwise professional person? Knowing what we know about the banking industry being worried about Y2K causing panic and bank runs, perhaps she and other tellers are informally polling customers who ask for small denominations in amounts greater than $100 and see if a pattern is developing. I'm sure most tellers everywhere are aware of the hooplah over Y2K panic by now, and what better way to gauge the masse's pulse than to have tellers take a tally? Each bank president can then get a picture of his/her own customers worry. As the pulse quicken, so would the spin geared toward calming their customers via montly inserts in the statements, if all seems ok, no need for the spin.

Just a thought.

-- Chris (catsy@pond.com), February 10, 1999.

Chris, The teller did seem fairly professional otherwise. She was about 55 years old, she was European with a moderate accent which made it a little weirder to me because in my experience Europeans have always been very businesslike and, in general, could not care less about what someone else is doing.

-- Chris (where@else.com), February 10, 1999.

Chris, that last post about the European teller was mine. Somehow I signed it with your name accidentally.

-- Zorro (where@else.com), February 10, 1999.

My mother went into her bank a week ago to put some extra cash into a guaranteed savings certificate. The clerk encouraged her to use the one-year plan. She replied that she wanted to be able to get the money back in less than a year. The clerk replied "Of course, but you can draw it out after 30 days and get interest earned to that point." My mother was surprised that she appeared to be a GI. Perhaps my mother's senses were heightened by her awareness but she was sure the clerk knew exactly what she was talking about.

Now, whether or not she gets her money before it's too late---

-- Lois Knorr (knorr@attcanada.net), February 10, 1999.


Any bank worth its bills has informed its employees of potential bank run scenarios. I'm certain as more and more bank tellers awaken, they will question the motives of those withdrawing large cash amounts. Loud mouths are to be avoided. I like your idea about Kennedy dollars instead of paper dollars because of that amazingly destructive force known as fire. I'll try to get some tomorrow. Thanks for the tip.

Any alert checking clerk at my bank knows fully well that I'm preparing for Y2K because I have left a paper trail of checks to food suppliers, local merchants, grocery stores and other suppliers known for Y2K items. The latest check was mailed today to Willhite Seed Inc (www.willhiteseed.com) for many open pollinated vegetable seeds. Tomorrow shall be an order for Burpee's Heirloom Seeds. Day by day we make headway.

One of my neighbors works at this banking institution, so I deliberately visit another branch. However, I live in a small city, so she probably already knows through the bankvine.

-- dinosaur (dinosaur@williams-net.com), February 10, 1999.

The Kennedy dollar idea was Art Welling's, not mine. As an aside, about three weeks ago I happened to ride by the house of the President of this bank. Out back was about three cords of the most beautifully split firewood I've ever seen. No bark, no ratty pieces, all cut to precise length. I've never seen a stick of wood in his yard before then.

-- Zorro (here@there.com), February 10, 1999.

For crying out loud, have we all lost our sense of humor? Just tell the clerk, "I'm going to fly to Las Vegas & piss it all away at the craps table!" Then give her a sly wink and/or a big laugh.

Here's a flash for all of you: The teller doesn't CARE what you do with your money. She's just a bored clerk who's MAKING CONVERSATION. You are being WAY too serious. Lighten up, OK? (Glad I don't work for any of you stiffs!)

-- go buy a (sense@of.humor), February 10, 1999.

Time lapse:

I'm back from buying some Y2K winter boots at Wal*Mart...Canadian Sorels at clearance prices. Might not be available next year.

Some bank clerks are very nosy, some are pathetic mannequins, and some are wonderful people. My bank neighbor's like the third example. I don't intend to lie to tellers. Today I told one that I trusted her. (but not the bank: that's the real gamble.)

OK, I'll lighten up. Zorro, pass that helium hose. :)

-- dinosaur (dinosaur@williams-net.com), February 10, 1999.

Zorro, I had something similar happen today. I think book matches are a great Y2K bartering item and I have been buying then ten boxes at a time. Today I got ten more and the check out girls wanted to know what I was going to do with all these matches.

-- Freddie the Freeloader (freddie@aol.com), February 10, 1999.

I wouldn't worry about it. The teller was acting unprofessional, but I dunno about being paranoid about it. Now, if they insist you tell them what you're doing with it, or want you to fill out a form, that's a different story.

I go and get small bills every week, and I chuckle and say that I hope the Saturday poker game goes better this week. Makes them smile and that's ok with me. :)

-- Bill (billclo@hotmail.com), February 11, 1999.

I had the very same thing happen to me back in July of 1998 when we took out over $5,000 in cash to purchase a vehicle in a private sale. The teller asked me what I was going to do with the money. I told her I may not live to see next week and I was heading to Reno to blow it all on the crap table! You should have seen her eye balls pop out of her head!

-- bardou (bardou@baloney.com), February 11, 1999.


What's the point in fibbing?

I think we should be truthful when those who don't know question our motives. PERHAPS they might become enlightened. :)

-- dinosaur (dinosaur@williams-net.com), February 13, 1999.

I went through a similar cash removal situation, at a small town bank. The bank president was watching over the teller's shoulder asking strange questions about my unusual banking habits. It gave me the creeps. I thought about it recently and have decided to go back for a private session with the president, tell her about our local Y2K Readiness Group, and offer my help.

I love this Forum.


-- Sheila Bjeletich (sheilabj@hotmail.com), February 16, 1999.

My wife was cashing a few checks last week and for some reason didn't take smaller denominations. When she saw all the new 50's and 20's the clerk was giving her, she asked for the older bills instead. The clerk said, "We don't have the older ones. The Federal government makes us send them in to be destroyed. We only have the new bills."

We bank separately, and my bank hasn't done this (yet). Strange.

-- PJ (Just@here.com), February 16, 1999.

Can someone please explain to me what the goofy heck a Kennedy dollar might be? I have few Kennedy half dollars, in both 40% and 90% silver, but I am unfamiliar with these Kennedy dollars.

-- Robert Sturgeon (rsturgeon@calwest.net), March 08, 1999.

Robert, beats me. You might have to start a new thread to get someone to pick up this question since the thread is pretty old. Give it a day or two.

-- Puddintame (dit@dot.com), March 08, 1999.

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