Trust Your Banker

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I was opening a new savings account when I asked the banker if he was from the area. He said he recently moved back to Denver from New York where he had been with a girl for four years. They got married and bought a flat in Manhattan. Three days after the wedding, while still unpacking, the woman said she had been sleeping with one of the man’s friends – one of the groomsmen. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to stay married. Since the banker had spent all of his money to relocate them, she said (perhaps out of sheer decency or obligation) that this banker could stay with her for the next six months until he was able to get his own place. That was one year ago.

He was a good-looking guy. Tall, nice build, friendly. He had a slight cynical edge to his dialect and manner (a residual effect of the break-up?) He went out of his way to explain how to get a few extra bucks when opening an account using some lingering deals that were still out there. “But don’t tell the bank I said so,” he winked. He told us where to find such deals. He lamented his outdated computer and software, as well as the inability to casually browse the internet. He noted in a whisper, with a roll of the eyes, how all his keystrokes were logged by management.

I wondered who else would hear this story? I was a complete stranger, sitting there next to my girlfriend. What were his motivations? Was he trying to warn me of the dangers of entrusting your heart to another person? By letting us in on a “secret deal” was he trying to feel some sort of intimacy that he hadn’t felt since his wife of three days surprised him? Was sticking it to a financial institution a means to squeeze some retribution from life? The whole encounter made me consider the concept of trust.

Here was a man that is probably, and rightly so, wary of relationships. Of women. Of friendships. Why would he open up to us? Was it safe for him because we were “customers” instead of “friends”? Were we just an outlet for his need to tell a story – people who would shake his hand and most likely never see him again? Maybe. But, what if we did see him again? Would he say hello? Or would he be embarrassed? Who was I to be privy to such heartbreak? What did he gain by telling this story?

It occurred to me that trust isn’t something you can acquire or find. You have to choose to trust. This choice often comes from calculation. But, here, my own calculations left me in limbo – where many considerations of the unknown can lead. How much of the banker’s story grew embellished over the year? How much was true to begin with? Trusting a person is no different from watching a movie. We ask the filmmakers to say what they have to say while hoping that the fiction is sold well enough so we don’t see holes in the plot. Take our banker, for instance: did there exist red flags that could have saved him from entering into such a short-lived marriage? Did he see and simply ignore the warnings? How many of us have endured a sudden heartbreak only to say “I should have known!?” We choose to trust reality and fiction at different times, depending on what suits our need. More often than not we suspend our disbelief because the fairytale is prettier. But, it doesn’t mean we don’t see the holes in the plot.

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