I’m not one for banks. Bankers make me nervous. I don’t know if it’s the suits or the pinched look they get whenever you want your money in your pocket and not their vault.
“I’m going to the bank. You want to come?” This was a rhetorical question. Layce will go because they have a popcorn machine. She has actually gone in there just for the popcorn and if it’s all gone she waits until they make more.
“Of course,” she said.
We walked to the bank and on the way Layce explained her theory on banking. “So you give me your ball…” she started.
“It’s a beach ball, okay? And it represents your money. So you give me your ball. You can have it anytime you want Monday through Friday nine to five, but not on weekends or federal holidays.”
“But what about the ATM?” I said.
“You can’t get your whole ball, though. They will only give you some of your ball. A percentage. It’s no coincidence that a pie chart looks like a beach ball.”
“Okay, but where is this going?”
“Let me finish. You can play with your ball but I will ultimately want the ball back. And I’m going to charge you to hold your ball and sometimes if you take you ball out to play too often I’m going to charge you for that too. Also while I’m holding your ball I’m going to charge you for doing it and I’m going to make money off your ball but I don’t give you any of that money. I keep it.”
“Why are you so focused on this ball thing? And what kind of ball are we talking about? A rubber ball, a volley ball, a bowling ball…”
Layce cut me off. “I just think it’s interesting that we’ve been trained to willingly hand over money to this institution that makes lots of money off our money and doesn’t share it with us and has the audacity to charge us for the privilege of keeping our money,” she said.
“Maybe I should just bring you home a bag of popcorn,” I suggested.
“Why? We’re almost there.”
“Because I’m sensing some hostility here.”
“I’ll get a sucker too. That’ll keep me quiet.”
The bank employee entrusted to help us was named Dusty Rose. Layce whispered to me, “Is that her stripper name? What sort of a mother names her daughter that?”
I wondered if bringing Layce along was such a good idea. She seemed to be in a mood. Perhaps it was the ball thing again.
Dusty Rose, the bank lady not the stripper, asked for my identification and then Layce’s because we have a joint account.
“I don’t have my ID on me. I just came for the popcorn,” she said, almost belligerently.
“That’s okay,” Dusty Rose said. “I think I can vouch for you since you come in here a lot.”
“So how much is a safety deposit box?” Layce asked after Dusty finished up with my direct deposit form.
I wondered where she was going with this. Did she want one to put her ball in?
Dusty handed over the price list and took us to the vault to show us the available sizes.
“Can anyone other than me get into my box?” Layce asked.
“Like who?” I asked. “The IRS, the FBI, drug lords, or aliens?
“I just want to know how safe my safety deposit box is,” Layce said.
“Nobody but you can get in, but it’s not FDIC insured,” Dusty Rose said.
“And why not?” Layce said.
“Because we don’t know what you put in it so how can we insure something we don’t know about,” she replied. She glanced over at me as if to say “Is there something wrong with your friend?”
“So can I visit my box whenever I want?” Layce asked. “I mean during business hours of course and not on federal holidays or weekends.”
“Certainly. We also have these climate controlled rooms where you can spend quality time with your box.”
“I find it hard to believe that nobody knows what’s in my box. Are you sure nobody goes through the boxes at night when nobody’s looking?”
“No. Nobody,” Dusty Rose said.
“How do you know?” Layce asked. “You’re at home watching TV or sleeping, right? How would you know if the bank manager doesn’t come in and take out everyone’s valuables and play with them?”
“Play with them?” Dusty Rose said.
“We should go,” I said.
“I’m just saying,” Layce added. “That’s all. You can’t be one hundred percent positive what happens to these boxes when you’re not here. Right?”
Dusty Rose shrugged. “I guess so.”
“Okay, we gotta go now. Thanks for all your help, Dusty,” I said, taking Layce by the wrist and led her away. “What’s wrong with you?” I hissed.
“I just don’t like banks,” she said, snagging a second bag of popcorn on the way out.
“I gathered that,” I said. I decided that my attitude towards banks did not hold a candle to my joint account holder’s animosity. “I think I’m going to get you a popcorn maker for your birthday.”
“Why when we can go to the bank and get free popcorn because they are charging us to keep our money. It’s my passive aggressive way of getting even,” Layce said.
I threw my hands up. Maybe there was a very good reason people kept their money under their mattresses.