Task Focused (Issue 657)

In which we are reminded that, sometimes, following the cues we’re given trumps the obvious task at hand.

Sunny Saturday morning, the bank branch in our town center was hopping.  There was a traffic jam at the rear lobby ATM machines, a dozen people murmuring  in line toward the tellers,  and a six-deep que hopping foot to foot waiting to see the two moving-fast-as-we-can Financial Services Representatives, all wondering whether old hard-of-hearing Mrs. Doings could have picked a less busy Saturday to come to the branch for help balancing her check book.

As Mrs. Doings rose from her chair and heaved herself toward the branch front door, a man, probably in his mid ‘60s,  moved to the chair she’d left warmly vacant. He sat down, precisely folded his coat over his lap, and waited for the now-available Financial Services Representative to catch her breath.

“Good morning,” she smiled. “I’m Jackie Brooks. How may I help you?”

“Good morning,” he replied. “I’d like to open a checking account, please.”

“Great!”, she enthused. “And how are you this beautiful morning?”

He was silent for a couple of breaths, then said, “Well, I’m tired…I don’t know whether I’ve blown my chance for retirement by making bad investments. I can’t decide whether and how fast to down size and move to a smaller house or whether to buy a new car now or wait.  I’m tired of my job, I’ve been doing it for 30 years and I’m worn out, tired of missing beautiful days sitting inside at my desk for the whole day. I regret that I didn’t spend more time with my kids when they were growing up, and now they’re gone, and I wish I had a more clear view of how I’m going to back off but I don’t have that.”

….. Motionless, she looked at him… right into his eyes… for a long moment.

“And how many people will be using the checking account we’re opening here this morning?”

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