Years ago, I worked as a bank teller for Great Western Bank. I was there full-time and the pay was good, but it was a terrible place to work. The branch manager was a domineering woman who liked to show her authority, and she was constantly reminding us how easily we could all be fired. There were a thousand and one things that could get you fired, and for awhile it seemed like someone was getting fired every week. The atmosphere was always tense, partly because we were all wondering who would be next. Once a friend of mine stopped in to say hello. There were no customers in the bank at all, and he wasn’t even there 2 minutes. When he left, the manager walked over to my window and said, “Be more careful in the future, that’s the kind of thing that could get you fired“. She literally ran the bank like some kind of Nazi. In our staff meetings, she told us that she wanted us to “eat, sleep and dream about checking accounts”. That was the big thing, getting people to open checking accounts. She wanted all of us to obsess over checking accounts and she wanted our job at the bank to be our whole life. We were all encouraged to donate a small portion of our paychecks to a charity, and she strongly suggested specific ones. When I skipped her choices and chose AMFAR (American Foundation for Aids Research) instead, it was frowned upon.
But that wasn’t the only issue there.
One of the supervisors was verbally abusive to some of the tellers, on a daily basis. She was very rude and condescending, with many insulting comments, and would often have some of the girls in tears. Management knew this was happening, and did absolutely nothing to stop it. She would frequently threaten us with mandatory overtime. My work day began at 8am, and one day I walked in the door at 8:01 am. She told me to put on my timecard that I was a minute late. Several of us had complained about her behavior, and we were told, “She’s having problems at home” and to just try and deal with it. They made excuses for her behavior and allowed it to continue.
Eventually it was my turn to get fired. One of my responsibilities was to count the Traveler’s Cheques every day before we closed. This was a 2-person job, with the other person verifying that everything was correct. One Monday I had come back to work after a short vacation, and at the end of the day I was brought into the manager’s office. Apparently some Traveler’s Cheques had gone missing over the weekend, and I was accused of stealing them. I did not steal them, and I told them so, but they chose not to believe me and I was let go. I wasn’t the only person who had access to them. The other person was a supervisor, who we all knew was having sex with another supervisor in an upstairs storage room. Since I wasn’t the person who stole them, it had to have been him. He wasn’t questioned, as he was a favorite of management who they thought could do no wrong.
When I walked out of that bank for the last time, I was more relieved than anything else. I was glad I didn’t have to go back there and put up with bitchy supervisors and egotistical management. When I later learned the branch had closed down, I silently celebrated. I could never be a bank teller now. I don’t have the patience that I used to, and that “customer is always right” nonsense doesn’t fly with me. We had some really shitty customers, I can tell you. Some of them were exceptionally rude, and you had to stand there and take their abuse and you weren’t allowed to defend yourself.