[I quit my job at the bank. I've decided to return to school to continue my education. This is yet another new chapter of my life, and as I look forward to being a student again as well as continuing my martial arts training, I reflect on my experiences as a bank teller...]
I have worked as a bank teller on and off since 1996. I have worked other jobs as well, but from then till now, I have logged more than a decade's worth of time working as a teller. I’ve acquired a few interesting skills along the way: I can decipher even the sloppiest of handwritings from years of having to discern the written amounts on checks and deposit slips. I’ve learned the ancient art of making people think that my good idea is really their idea that they came up with all by themselves. I have developed excellent telephone skills, a typing speed somewhere above 70 WPM, lightning-fast money counting abilities, and effective troubleshooting skills. Indeed, each day presents a new puzzle to solve, whether concerning computers, customer accounts, or equipment malfunctions.
Tellers are the face of the bank. We are the first people – and many times the only people – customers see when they visit the bank. As such, we get yelled at and blamed for bank policies we had no hand in creating; consequently, we are chastised for implementing and enforcing those bank policies – i.e., “doing our job” – usually by uninformed and/or uneducated and/or unintelligent people who haven’t grasped the nearly self-evident truth that those who make the rules rarely feel the negative effects of those rules. I have said, “If you’re yelling at me, that should tell you I had nothing to do with the rules. Important people don’t have to deal with you.” Generally, that’s true. Sometimes the “higher-ups” get involved if a customer is especially irate or demands to speak with someone in authority, but usually it’s just us: the tellers. We are the face of the bank.
No task or duty is necessarily difficult for a teller. The difficulty lies in both the multiplicity of tasks and the critical need for accuracy. This difficulty is elevated even more considering most teller tasks must be done in public view and with as much quickness as possible. After all, like any business, the customers cannot be kept waiting for too long. Thus, this presents a level of stress that many people are either unwilling to endure or incapable of handling. This fact, coupled with the entry-level paychecks tellers receive, results in a high turnover rate for tellers in most banks.
On average, morale amongst bank tellers is usually low. They are only told what to do or what they have been doing wrong. If a teller ever hears from a higher authority in the company, it's almost always because the person in authority feels the need to reprimand the teller for her error. Tellers are the lowest form of life at the bank. They are given projects and assignments without any regard to how much of their own work they have to finish or how many customers they must assist throughout the work day. Again, this keeps teller morale at a pitifully low level. Bank supervisors – those in middle management in particular – are usually oblivious to such conditions. Tellers generally feel like they're on their own in the banking world.
While I'm sure there are many happy tellers out there, what I have described in this blog entry is, more often than not, the typical life of a bank teller. They deal with the stress associated with having to deal with other people's money. They have to deal with stressed out people; after all, few things stress folks out more than money (or lack thereof). So chill out, be patient, and be nice to your bank tellers!