Snakes and ladders, part 1

(Long, so I split it up. About new jobs, and… new civilizations.)

A few bits on the WordPress sidebar tweaked- let me know if you want to be linked (or-delinked, conversely), I know I missed a bunch of people who will take umbrage. Rest assured in the knowledge that you can EXPRESS THAT UMBRAGE and fix the problem.

So, work. I’m a banker, at the moment. What exactly that entails has varied quite a bit from day to day. Mostly teller work thus far, processing basic transactions, and occasionally more complex ones. I developed a surprising memory for people and faces, a complete detachment from the value of money, and a healthy, good-natured hatred of wire transfers.

It feels like, in a lot of ways, that our branch has had one crisis after another the last few months. Someone’s quitting, or moving on, or sick, or unable to do a particular task for reasons that range from mundane, to absurd, to downright strange. I’ve done different jobs, so I know that some manner of chaos insinuates itself into day-to-day routine anywhere. That’s just the nature of life and work.

I’ve bounced around some the last little while. There weren’t many teller or office tasks that

A) I hadn’t done, or

B) I wasn’t training for.

The upside of the bouncing, of course, was proving myself valuable. I’m a guy who thrives on that. I like being valued, and contributing. It’s a feeling I don’t know if I’d found in what I was doing before.

Maybe it was the atmosphere, a workplace that seemed to, for once, be positive, and have management that actually seemed invested in those that worked for them. THAT is truly rare, especially amidst the constant chaos of a busy workplace. I’d worked with managers who didn’t care for much more than what you brought them, and here was a place that didn’t just talk about empowering employees, but gave those that wished to the tools to advance.

That wasn’t the plan initially.


My workmate Zul first put the bug in my mind, a few months back.

He was leaving his position at our branch as a financial advisor, moving into some kind of commercial banking. He asked me to come into his office for a moment on one of his last days. This was a first, and I was curious.

I like Zul. He’s snake oil smooth, to be sure,  but he shared my quick wit, and  love of subtle, mischevious humor. As we were two of three guys working at the branch, it was natural that we would seek each other out.

Zul spoke in slow, measured tones, and asked me to consider applying for the open position that would fill his soon-to-be vacated office.

I was a little taken aback. I hadn’t expected this. The position wasn’t the same as his- they were changing it to be more in line with what our branch needed, but it was still there.

Zul assured me I could do it. He talked of opportunities for advancement and growth (in different aspects than I might have), and that I wouldn’t want to be working the line forever.

I conceded his point silently- I DIDN’T want to work the teller line forever. If you’d asked me five years ago where I’d be now, I certainly wouldn’t have said at a bank, pushing 20s over the counter with a smile that fades when the line leaves. It was a fine enough job, to be sure, but…

I thanked him for his support, and shook his hand, wishing him well in his continued pursuits as I walked out. The case hadn’t been made, not then. I wasn’t ready. But the seed was planted.


Cut to two months later- Zul’s office is still open. Our FAs are running short handed, even as our teller line continues with the constant chaos.

I’m training for a support position one of the few days we actually are full staffed, and now, the manager calls me into the office.

Once again, an event without much precedent. Yellow alert, shields up, and all that.

I sit down, and we exchange greetings. Her first question: “You gonna be here in a month?”

After a pithy “You asking me if I’m going to get H1N1 and faceplant?” and a few guffaws, we got to it. She was wondering if I was happy working at the bank, if it was my plan to continue working there.

It wasn’t initially, as I said to her then. But like a lot of well-meaning plans I’ve made, it didn’t stay that way. They accommodated me while I took classes, and I returned the favor now by doing whatever they needed, whenever they needed.

I hedged some in my response, but mentioned I was happy with how things were going, even as challenging as it had been. I wasn’t going anywhere.

So she offered me a new job. To inhabit Zul’s formerly empty office, as he had suggested some time ago. Become the junior personal banking officer they were looking for. A nice step up from “customer representative”.

After that, she laid out the case. Anyone else who had applied would need training, as I would. And with more changes on the horizon (one of our other financial officers was moving on, which I didn’t know until then), the familiarity I would bring would be a positive.  She mentioned that Mat, another FA at the branch, had suggested me as well.

She also mentioned that I’d made myself valuable over the last few months, and that it had not gone unnoticed. This, in concert with Mat’s mention, was surprisingly gratifying, and I think I smiled and exhaled. There may also have been an awkward chuckle.

There were other things- money, courses and certifications I would need, and that sort of thing. She gave me a day to sleep on it, and I left with a crowded head, mulling about the challenges.

I was asked what had occured in the office. I kept my own counsel for a time amidst gossip and suggestion (a not un-impressive feat in an office of 80-something percent women), letting it swim in my head until I left.


3 thoughts on “Snakes and ladders, part 1

  1. DaveC

    You were one I was thinking of, MIriam, as constant a web presence as you are… I had a link for a blog of yours, but it was outdated.

    You’ll go up tonight.

  2. Pingback: The interview | Thanks, that was fun

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