Thursday, September 12, 2013

Anecdote IV: Billy Banker

After I quit being a Dock Donkey in the fall of '62, I decided I would try to do something that wasn't hard labor and maybe even be able to work in the daytime(!).

So I applied to Citizens National Bank (long since defunct).  I was interviewed by a wonderful older woman who tried to make sure that I was willing to make a career of banking and not quit and go back to school after a short time.  I promised her that banking was all I ever thought about and couldn't imagine doing anything else.  I was a good liar and got hired.

So I worked full time at a small branch out in the San Gabriel Valley, Hacienda Heights, and got my teller training there, in fact.

I soon learned that banking was not for me: I was fast but not at all thorough thus didn't always balance to the penny at the end of the day and everyone had to stick around til they found my error.  This made me very popular. I also learned that many of the general public are righteous assholes who considered the entire bank staff to be their servants.  The servile manager and assistant manager did nothing to dispel this impression.  Plus the pay for us tellers was pissant.  Wanna know why?  'Cause almost all of the tellers were women and we all know what they're worth!  And those women made lunch in the staff lounge torture for me: all they talked about was pregnancy, children and Las Vegas.  I soon learned to bring a book to work.

About mid-year I told that sweet woman who interviewed me that I was indeed going back to school in the fall of '63.  She was disappointed.  She decided to make the most of my impermanence by making me a sub teller for any branch in the entire LA basin that needed one.  So I filled in for vacation people, sick people and the like, driving all over the basin to various branches and rarely being in the same place for more than week.  It forestalled boredom, at least, and I knew the end was in sight.

So I re-entered UCLA in the fall of '64 but needed money for rent and food and gas and my church choir check just wouldn't do it.  I applied at the Bank of America branch in downtown Westwood and was hired as a Boy Friday, I could walk from campus to the bank.  I helped the Operations Officer, did my time at the Customer Bitch Desk (the bank was never wrong), and helped the Assistant Operations Officer track down problems.  In essence, there wasn't any job in that bank I couldn't do (except approve loans) and there was much glamour in it because a lot of movie and TV actors had their accounts with us.  And lemme tell ya, when Zubin Mehta's wife, Nancy Kovack, entered that lobby, time and people stood still.  Holy Moley, what a dish she was. (Mehta took over the LA Phil at only 29, btw.  Nancy quit here acting jobs).

Of course, when things got busy in the lobby, I went on the teller line, usually at the request of John Heenan, the O.O.  When the lobby got a bit crowded, he'd yell "Dehning, get on that line."  I'd open my window and that lobby would empty out in minutes.  I was a real whiz on that line!  Of course, I didn't always balance out to zeros at the end of the day, but that was a small price to pay for the Dehning Blitz on the crowd, especially on Fridays.

I worked 25 hours/week at that bank until January of '66, when I finished at UCLA and went across town to enter USC.  Each semester, I got a letter from the UCLA counseling office warning me that such a time consuming job was detrimental to my studies, which was correct, but I had to work, and in those last three semesters at UCLA I never got anything less than a B, but of course damned few A's.  The A's came when I entered grad school and was only in classes I loved and in which I had a deep interest.  Funny how that works.

Next:  Billy Basque.  Watch this space.

1 comment:

xn said...

Dr. D, I love these entries. Please keep them up. (If you need a reader, I am always here.)