The horror of the informal bank teller culture in this land

Is it July already? Yeah, I have to admit it…11:11 p.m. on 4 July, dan neodvisnost in Austin, as I type this, and fireworks are still a-explodin’ out the windows. Leo had some trouble getting to sleep (not unusual) and Mrs. Pogoer took him out for a spell to witness the incendiary devices wafting heavenward, until things got a bit too hot and heavy with the things going off 10 feet away from him; he liked the displays but flinched from the noise, and Mrs. P brought him inside (he didn’t want to come in, but fell asleep right away without delay). Luka, exhausted from a full day of jumping off tables and couches and screaming for Mickey and Pooh cartoons, slept through the whole thing without a peep.

In any case, it’s lately occurred to me that I haven’t really done the sort of cultural observations for Texas that I did for the Slovenes, although some of the customs in Texas are just as odd for me (a native New Yorker who lived his whole life in the northeastern US before heading off to Ljubljana) as some of them Central European ways. Maybe more so, since this is, after all, supposed to be my native land. (Well, yes and no.)

After a good five years in Austin, for example, I still can’t get used to the informality of people in the service industry, particularly bank tellers. As opposed to banks in Slovenia, where everyone dresses up and calls you sir or ma’am (well, actually it’s gospod or gospa), walk up to a teller in an Austin bank (dressed in a short-sleeved shirt and no tie, or a polo shirt; every day is Casual Friday here) and he or she will call you by your first name (duh, it’s on your deposit slip or check) and ask you something like:

“So how’s everything going today, Jim?”

or

“Got any plans for the weekend?”

I know I should just play along with local customs and pretend I think the teller actually cares about the answer to either question, but, I dunno…I still find the whole rigmarole intrusive and think about responding, “So, if we’re on such good terms, Bob, how about lending me $100 until next payday? C’mon…it’s me.”

On top of this, the bank’s usually got a TV in a stand clamped to the ceiling and everyone on line is forced to watch Fox News or a similar horrible news broadcast about terrorism or rising oil prices or the latest disaster (for example, it’s been raining almost nonstop in Central Texas for the past two weeks and everyone is waiting for their houses to float away any day now, and this can’t be good for the roses). If you have to have a TV in a bank, let it be tuned to the Food Network or VH-1 or even Lifetime, Oxygen or BET. We’re already in a bank, we don’t have to have the real world shoved doubly in our face.

Austin is usually OK, but Texas? Sheesh.

I’m just sayin’.

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