Follow The Cues We’re Given (Issue 817)

In which we are reminded that, sometimes, following the cues we’re given is more important than finishing the task we’d planned.

Sunny Saturday morning. The small bank branch near our town square was hopping with a half-hour to closing.  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 front door, one of the men in the six-deep que, probably in his early ‘60s, moved to the chair she’d left warmly vacant. He sat down, gently folded his black overcoat over his lap, and waited for the now-available Financial Services Representative to catch her breath.

“Good morning,” she smiled. “Welcome to So-and-So Bank. I’m Jackie Brooks. How may I help you?”

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

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

He was silent for a couple of breaths, then I heard him say, “Thanks for asking, I’m generally OK. But I was thinking, while I was waiting for you: It is a beautiful morning and I wish I’d taken time to enjoy more mornings like this rather than working six and seven days a week.  I regret that I didn’t spend more time with my kids when they were growing up and, now that they’ve moved away, I wish I could see  how soon I can cut back at work so I can go visit them.  I don’t know whether I’ve blown my chance for retirement in a few years by saving too little or investing poorly. And, now that my wife has passed, I can’t decide whether and how fast to move to a smaller house or whether to buy a new car now or wait.”

….. 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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