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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Friday, May 06, 2005
I bank at a small independent bank in the town where I live. No bullet-proof glass. No claustraphobia-inducing vestibule through which to be “buzzed in.” I love this bank. The people know my name and have even called me when I was about to be overdrawn to give me time to race to the bank and deposit money. The tellers know my kids. One lady even keeps a stash of cookies just to cajole my youngest to smile and talk to her. The tellers frequently change, but they are always friendly. A fixture at the bank however, is Pat. I’m not sure what Pat’s actual title is, but she is the one you go to if you have a problem. She is always smiling and social. She always asks about my kids. I don’t usually have occasion to work with Pat. I usually run in, hand the deposit to the teller and run out.

Yesterday however, I went to the bank to straighten out what I thought was an error on their part. While I was sitting at her desk, I overheard her saying that she was leaving the bank to be home with her kids (two boys, ages 3 and 9). Being a stay-at-home mom myself, I told her that I thought it was a great idea that she was going to be home with her kids. She told me “Well, you know, I lost my husband in July and my father the month after that. Then, my sister was deployed to Kuwait. My mom has been watching all the kids. She’s 75. She needs a break, so I’m going to help her. I have no debts and my parents always taught me to save, so I’m stepping off onto faith.” I was stunned. I had never heard that her husband had died! She explained that she didn’t want to dampen the spirits of the customers, so she never mentioned it to us. Still shocked, I asked if her husband had been ill. She said “Ball-and-chain, he was murdered.” I picked my jaw up off the floor while she explained that he had been doing mentoring in a “bad” part of town and had been killed while he was there. I didn’t know what to say. She breezily said “God doesn’t make mistakes” and moved off to check what had happened with my account. It turned out the error had been mine, not the bank’s and I left.

Needless to say, I have been pretty bummed-out since then. Later in the day it occurred to me that I have never made this kind of error with my account before. In an odd way it feels like I was supposed to talk to Pat that day. If not, she would have left and I never would have found out why. I also have a strange feeling that I am supposed to help her. But how?
Why not delicately ask her? Maybe there's something specific she could use...
If you can't "help her" directly, maybe find an organization (perhaps associated with "violence" and intervention of it-- there' a cause for everything -- or a bereaved families organization) and make a donation in her husband's name. And if you want to really be personal about it, write her a heartfelt note with your thoughts and how you felt when she told you and how she'll continue to be in your thoughts, etc. I find that the best way to find a direct line to a person's heart is through your own. (and that is how/why I'm coming to L.A. next month)
If you know of any other practices that are looking to outsource their insurance billing, maybe you could ask her if she ever considered setting up a home business. She is obviously organized, good with numbers... and trustworthy.

Just a thought.
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