I’m in the queue at the local bank branch on this tiny silly task again, changing a note into coins, and I see she’s here again, Branch Manager K, the volcano of inexplicable anger, who got me in her sights when I was here on this same mission six weeks ago.
I just wanted to change the damn note. Gives me the third degree, demands proof I bank at the branch and then goes apoplectic when I say I’ve been coming here for 10 years and “why does it matter anyway?” The staff gaze in their Manager’s direction in amazement or away in embarrassment. When she moves off, they apologise to me. Later, I decide I must have reminded her of someone from the past.
Fast forward six weeks and here we are again. She at the window, pretending she hasn’t seen me, and me in the queue counting how many people are in front and whether I’d draw K as my teller. Who am I kidding? Of course, I’m going to get K. And then I’m strategising and getting all worked up. She better not do that again, surely she won’t be like that again, I don’t know if I can handle it, I shouldn’t have to put up with that … I know, when it’s my turn to go to her window, I’ll announce to the person behind to take my spot because I won’t deal with That Teller …
I’m saying all this stuff to myself and then another thought. Really? Of course, you can handle it. If need be, Narelle, you can just get your credit card and give it to her as proof of your bank branch before she says anything. You can deal with it. Nothing’s going to happen. And then another thought. You don’t need to embarrass her or punish her. It doesn’t matter. And then I drop all of it and relax.
As I drop it, at that very moment, a new staff member, the Lending Manager I think, comes straight over to me, smiling at me, looking at me as if I’m her long lost best friend and asks how she can help. I tell her I just want to change a note, thinking she’ll leave it to the tellers. But no, she says “certainly” and goes and gets the coins immediately. When she gives them to me, she smiles again and I notice her face is shining and beautiful, and she touches my arm with affection and makes a gesture like a half hug.
Now I’m amazed. I feel warm and loved and cared for and that something special has taken place. Moments earlier I’m scared and hostile, now I’m floating out the door in bliss. What happened? That tiny movement of thought happened. I dropped the desire to punish, to pay back. That’s what brought forth the shining, beautiful face of the staff member. That’s what brought forth love.
Image: Tree with texture, Mornington Peninsula, Melbourne by Wayne Quilliam