Joe Lavin

November 18, 2003

The Thrill and Excitement That Is Banking

This week is the 8th anniversary of my web site. In celebration of that and because I'm lazy this week, here's a column from the very first year when I was an office temp in Los Angeles. This piece originally appeared here on December 1, 1995.

Currently, I work as a temp in a bank, and let me tell you. It doesn't get more exciting than that. Well, maybe, just maybe, if I were dead and in a coffin, it would get more exciting. But only a little.

The bankers who employ me are nice but dull. Very dull. Since I'm still working there, it's probably unwise for me to insult them too much, but they are so boring that I can't help it. Besides, there's no chance any of them will be reading this. When I told them I write a column on the web, I got nothing but blank stares. The head of the department, Mr. Buckle, asked me what the column was like.

"A little bit like Dave Barry, if you know him."

There was a long pause, and then, "Oh, yes, him," Mr. Buckle shuddered. "I was once given one of his books. Terrible rubbish." Yes, it's safe to say that Mr. Buckle's probably not out surfing the net right now in search of my column. Apparently, he thinks that managing large amounts of money in a bank is more important than reading silly columns about nothing. The nerve of some people!

Luckily, there was at least one exciting moment at the bank -- a bomb threat. There was no bomb, but we did get to stand on the sidewalk for a half-hour. Being paid to stand on the sidewalk and not do work for a half-hour is a wonderful experience, but maybe you have to be a temp to truly appreciate it. None of the bankers could. I kept hearing the following conversation over and over again:

"How are you?"

"Awful! I don't have time for this! I got too much work to do!"

Meanwhile, my conversations went like this:

"How are you, Joe?"

"Hey, cool, bomb threat!"

"Isn't it horrible? I have so much work to do."

"Me too, but hey, cool, bomb threat!"

Some bankers were so busy that they ignored the bomb threat and stayed in the bank to do work. Me? I was one of the first out. With all my possessions too. I wasn't worried about the building exploding. I was just hoping to be let out for the day. I'm not just any temp. I'm a prepared temp.

Sadly, we were eventually ushered back into the dreary building. The bankers were ecstatic. I was not. I suppose I should at least be grateful that the building didn't explode. After all, that would have made it difficult to get my time card signed.

"We need an ambulance quick! This man is dying!"

"Excuse me, that's my boss. Could I just get him to sign my time card?"

"Both his hands are broken. Get out of the way!"

"He could use his teeth to hold the pen."

Even without bombs, finding someone to sign my time card is not easy. That's because I work on the 12th floor, my boss is on the 4th floor, and the department paying for me is on the 9th floor. Banks, you see, are organized.

Last week, my boss was gone, so it took forever. The secretary I work with wouldn't sign it because she "might get in trouble." And when I finally found an important banker, he said that I should get Ed to sign it. He didn't want "to tread on Ed's territory." Unfortunately, Ed's desk not to mention his territory was terribly devoid of Ed. At least, I think so, but I had never seen Ed before in my life, so I'm not positive.

By now, I was close to signing the time card myself. That's when the secretary decided I should have someone in the actual department paying for me sign the time card. It was a novel concept, and after only a little wandering we found Mr. Harada on the 9th floor. Thanks to Mr. Harada, all was soon well.

Mr. Harada is from Japan and can barely speak English. He had never met me before, but he was more than happy to sign my time card. He even thanked me several times and seemed to look upon the whole occasion as a wonderfully enjoyable way to learn the confusing English language.

I think Mr. Harada likes me, and I must say I like Mr. Harada too. It's safe to say that despite the language barrier we were able to develop a true bond of friendship. In fact, I like him so much that I'm thinking of letting him sign my time card even after I stop working at the bank. It's really the least I can do.

Please check back next Tuesday for another column.

©2003 Joe Lavin
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