Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Excerpt from "Leaving Jersey": People and Money

I posted a quote last week:

People were their bank accounts. And their bank accounts told the whole story.

CowgirlCre, my cubicle mate, had become interested in a draft copy of a novel I was finishing up, and she read the chapter that contained that quote. That really drew her attention, and we had a lively discussion about it.

So I thought I'd post the page from whence the quote came from...


Craig didn’t have many wants and dreams for his life. But if he had one wish for the human race, it wouldn’t be peace on earth, good will to all men, but it would be for each and every human being to spend at least a year of their lives working as a bank teller.

That’s because he himself had been a teller for five years, and had been promoted to head teller last year. And the one thing he understood is that people were not always what they seemed.

People were their bank accounts. And their bank accounts told the whole story.

People were diverse.

The female tellers oohed and ahhed at the tall, dark and handsome brother in the two thousand dollar Versace suit despite his bleak account, eaten alive by the twelve-hundred dollar a month car payment to Mercedes and countless charges accrued from blazing through every bar and club in town.

All they knew was that he was fine.

“He could get it,” was their constant commentary.

They didn’t pick up on the fact that these same striking men always came to Craig’s window, and spent time flirting with him, long past the completion of their transactions.

That happened at least once a week. Craig wanted to tell them all that he wasn’t interested in men. And if he was, he wouldn’t give the time of day to one who flunked high school personal finance.

No, it was against the rules for tellers to peruse the customers bank accounts. But when a customer leaned forward and quietly asked for his bank account to be checked to make sure a certain check had cleared, or for money to be transferred between accounts post haste, it wasn’t hard to put two and two together.

People were their bank accounts. And their bank accounts told the whole story.

Craig knew and understood that with the utmost clarity.

Money was to life like blood was to the human body. And the general population needed to understand that too.

If they did, the world would be a better place.

Personal Thoughts:

You know, I actually came up with the idea about this from a few sermons I heard on money here and there, most notably about concerning working on the debt issues that have plagued most of our lives at one time or another.

Everything always starts with: look at your checkbook registry. Look at where your money is going. Your treasure is usually where your heart is. You have been praying to God for help, but what are some of the practical things you can do, or stop doing, to be a better steward and manager of your money?

And it's followed by deciding when, where, and how to cut out all the unnecessary fat from our spending. And let's face it: if you make a good salary, and money is running through your hands like water, there may be a habit that needs to be squashed.


But it all didn't make as much sense to me as when my little sister Kentucky began working at a bank. Especially at the call in centers where she had to look at people's bank and credit card accounts. I remember her whispering "Lisa... you wouldn't believe some of the things people are doing.

I heard tales of people moving hundreds of thousands of dollars around to get the lowest interest rates. People you thought had going on were in all reality neck deep in debt.

I told her that I was glad that she had the opportunity to work there. She needed to see that people weren't always what they seem. People can put on some serious airs. But you check that bank account and they are literally in a state of poverty.

I know it gave her the courage to work on the debt she had. "Lisa," she said. "You know, this little stuff we dealing with ain't much. We can knock it out."

Sure can, Kentucky. That's what I was trying to tell you, Kentucky.

"I'm glad you had those few years of working at the bank, Kentucky," I told her one day. "You learned some things that the rest of us will never understand fully. And it will always stick with you. Always."

It's like digging a ditch with a toothpick. Even if we're removing one speck of dirt at a time, the important thing is this: progress is being made, albeit slow.

And this morning I was watching TD Jakes before leaving for work, and he was saying that we all had "sacred cows" in our lives, and that a man may be fine, but he had problems, that would come out sooner or later. He wished people would come with side effects warnings, like they have in the drug commercials.

That man is gorgeous, and here are the side effects: he is violent, got a bad temper. He's gonna beat you. His money is messed up, and he will mess up your money, etc....

Goodness. That's a lot going on. Aint that the truth. Everyone has side affects. His statement made me think of this passage I wrote.

I can look at my bank account... and that bank account tells it ALL.

Money is to life like blood is to the human body.


Craig is a very minor character in Sweet Heat. I love exploring the lives and thoughts of seemingly quiet minor characters in my stories. They are always good for a good offshoot story. He has some very interesting thoughts about money, doesn't he? He's a very interesting character, one of the smartest and at the same time, darkest I've ever written.

And I learned some powerful lessons from him.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, now it's very easy for me to comment on blogspot and I have to jump through hoops with Wordpress.

    Unfortunately I can't read the yellow...

    I totally agree with the 'follow the money' principle. That's one of the things I love about, I can easily see a pie chart of my spending.


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