Thursday, July 22, 2010

Super Hero

My brother-in-law Dave is one of the nicest guys I have ever known. He is a hard worker, a wonderful husband and father, a great friend. The best thing about Dave is that just when you think you have him pretty well pegged - gentle, kind, mild-mannered - he shows another, more "inspirational" side.

The last time I posted about him I described his heroic effort in combating the ferocious and vicious groundhogs that were threatening the neighborhood. I hadn't known this side of Dave as hunter and defender of the home.

Then this week he showed yet another side - consumer advocate and activist. He is a legend in the making.

Peg had written a $200 check to get some cash to make some payments. She made it out to Dave and asked him to go to the bank and cash it for her. Dave, being the wonderful son-in-law that he is, didn't think twice about it.

Now some would say it was the attitude of the teller that brought about the drama. Others would insist that it was just Dave's strong will and absolute commitment to justice and fairness for all. No matter what the cause, here's what happened.

The teller was indeed a bit rude and snotty. That is unusual here in Pittsford where most of the store clerks and such are overly friendly and snotty. But I digress. The point is that Dave had taken a bit of a dislike towards this young woman as he endorsed the $200 check.

"And how would you like your $195?" she asked him.

"As part of my $200," he told her.

With the exasperation and condescension that only bank tellers seem to have mastered, the young woman explained to Dave that there were bank fees for cashing the check, and she was going to keep $5 out of the 200.

Since the check was written on an account in that very branch, Dave couldn't quite understand why they got to keep the $5. He told this to the teller. She told Dave that if he had an account there himself, she wouldn't charge the fee. He told her he didn't have an account there.

She (and I can picture her rolling her eyes a little here, although I cannot say for sure that happened) explained right back to him that bank policies were in place, a teller like herself could hardly override these policies, blah, blah, blah.

Dave fumed a bit but he took the envelope with the $195 and left the building.

This is kind of like the moment when Clark Kent rips off his tie and eyeglasses and becomes Superman. For Dave had no sooner returned to his truck than he became Super Consumer Advocate Dave. As Howard Beale before him, Dave was mad as hell and he wasn't going to take it anymore.

Super Consumer Advocate Dave marched back into the bank. He spotted a management-type woman sitting alone in a glassed-in office, and he walked in on her. "Can I help you?" she asked, to which David replied, "I want my 5 dollars." Apparently the woman signaled for security - a fairly typical bank response to consumer advocacy. And also, evidently, a fairly typical response to a man who looks quite angry and insists on getting $5.

Anyhow, others from the bank joined the woman and she and they kept insisting to Dave that he was fighting bank policy and just couldn't win. Super Consumer Advocate Dave, on the other hand, just kept saying, "I want my 5 dollars."

In the end, the regional bank manager, who happened to be in the building ended up in the woman's office. Faced with the dilemma of bank policies that even he couldn't challenge and a super consumer advocate whose sole mantra was "I want my 5 dollars," the man made what I consider a superior executive decision.

He reached into his pocket, took out his wallet and gave Super Consumer Advocate Dave a five dollar note. SCA Dave was satisfied, the course of justice was preserved, his job here was done. He left the bank.

All of which leaves me with just a couple of questions:

1. What's going to happen the next time mild-mannered Dave returns to the bank with one of Peg's checks?

2. Will the regional manager expense the $5 he gave Dave out of his own money?

3. Aren't we all lucky that Dave forgot he did have an account there, so we got to meet Super Consumer Advocate Dave?

Anyhow, for those of you intrigued by this story, here is some additional recommended reading:

The Real Groundhog Day: A post describing Super Hunter Dave and his battle with vicious urban vermin

Bank On It: A post describing the not so desirable consequences when LK got angry at her bank

"The Boys in the Bank": This article by P.F. Kluge was the inspiration for "Dog Day Afternoon", an excellent movie about how things can get a bit out of control inside a bank. (Remember "Attica! Attica!")

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