How I Know I’m Not in New York (Part 5)

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March 21, 2013
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April 1, 2013
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“Remus Bank & Trust”

I met with my Romanian friend Remus the other day. As you might know, he has been searching for a career that fits his, well, let’s say, his special skills and personality. It looks like he finally found it.

“Hello, Remus. How are you, my friend?”

“I’m well. Very well. Yes, indeed. Very well indeed. You know I’m just too excited. Finally. Finally. I’ve finally found what I was meant to do with my life.”

“That’s great!  I know it hasn’t been easy, has it?”

“No. Honestly, it’s been much more difficult than I thought it would be. When I was studying the history of the Moldovan Empire in university, I never expected it would be this hard.”

“No, I guess not.”

“After all, I was the only one. I thought that would put me in a good position. But oh well. That’s all in the past. I have finally found the perfect career.”

“Well, that is wonderful! I’m really glad for you.”

“Yep, I know what to do. I know just what to do! I’m going to start a bank.”

“Wow! That IS unexpected.”

“I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier.”

“Well. Hmm. Remus, really, that sounds like quite a jump for you, though. I’m afraid it’s not…”

“No, no. Don’t be so negative. I have it all figured out.”

“Ok, but it’s rather complicated, isn’t it?”

“Complicated? No. Not really. Listen…”

“You need approvals and reserves and a lot of regulatory…”

“Yes, yes, yes. I have a friend who knows a guy in … oh, that doesn’t matter. Look, let me tell you. I now know the trouble with my other ideas. I didn’t plan well enough. I didn’t think ahead. I didn’t have a list. But not anymore. I’m done making mistakes. I have my list. I’ve looked at all the other banks and I know just what to do.”

“Well, that’s good you’re taking this seriously. But still, I don’t know. There’s more to it than…”

“Ah, my friend, you underestimate me. I’ve done my research.”

“Ok, go ahead.”

“So here’s my list. First, of course, I need an investor.”

“Well, yes, you’ll need some capital and…”

“I figure the Greeks and Italians are out. We already tricked…I mean used them as much as possible. So now we have to look around. Nobody in Western Europe is going to come. They have their own problems. The Russians? Not likely. I’d end up dead. Hungarians, Bulgarians, Serbs? Eeeech. The Turks? Don’t be silly. Nobody likes them.”


“So who’s left? I say the Middle East. That’s where we look. But most of those countries, they have enough banks already. So, the Israelites? Ha!. How about Egypt, and, ummm, Arabia? I don’t think so. So I say Iraq. They have money from oil – and no place to put it – and then I read about some politician here who sold them his company. Ok, it was bankrupt, but still, those Iraqis must have some money.”

“Remus, I’m not sure it’s that easy…”

“Wait, wait. So second on my list is customers. We’ll need customers, right?”

“Definitely. Yes. And it’s rather competitive around here, you know. It’s going to be difficult to…”

“No, no no. This is easy.”

“Not really, Remus. I’ve done this before, you know, in America and in other places. You have to work hard to convince people that they should bring you their money. You need a strategy. And marketing. And value. And integrity. You have to earn their trust. You have to work hard to make sure…”

“Oh, stop! Stop! Grow up! Where do you think you are? You are SOOO old-fashioned. You, my friend, are so American! And we all thought you were an advanced country. We don’t need all that here.”


“No. Here we just get to know the people running the companies, and then work something out (if you know what I mean) so we become good friends (if you know what I mean).”

“Ok. But…”

“And then they dump all their payroll into our bank. Every week. Every month. We get a pile of cash plopped into our vault.”

“Yes, but you need to work with the employees…”

“The employees? Who cares? With just one or two phone calls, I’ll have thousands of customers in no time at all. All the employees.”

“Really?  You think that…”

“And the best part is, they won’t even know it! They won’t have a choice. They’ll find out later that I have all their money.”

“That doesn’t sound very nice. Don’t you think you should…”

“No, wait! Wait! But we give them great deals. All sorts of free money.”

“Well, now that IS nice because…”

“Yes, well, free money that they pay for.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I’m not stupid, my friend. You don’t think we’re going to actually give them something for free. That would be crazy.”

“Well, I thought you meant that…”

“But the deals we announce make us sound really good. Very very friendly.”

“I’m not sure what you mean.”

“How about we give you some money whenever you shop?”

“That’s pretty good.”

“With a limit, of course.”

“I guess that sounds ok.”

“Are you kidding?”


“Like that will make any difference? Like you have any money to spend to begin with! Hahaha.”

“Well, actually, that’s not very nice, but…”

“And by the time you pay us the monthly fee for your account, the fee for your card, the fee for our services, the cost of our envelopes, and the money we need to pay for the seat you use while you wait, do you think the few coins we give you will pay for all that?”

“I don’t know.”

“Oh, wait, here’s a good one. You’ll love this. Open an account and we’ll pay you 100 percent interest. 100 percent per annum. That means 100 percent per year!!”

“Yes, I know what it means. And wow, I’ve never heard…”

“So you know what would happen? It means at that rate, your money would double with us in a year!”

“Yes, that’s amazing.”

“And we will give you that rate, that annual rate, for yours to keep the day you open your account.”

“Incredible. You are going to double my money? And I’ll have twice as much at the end of one year. That is amazing!”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, that’s amazing. Really. You’ll double my money by the end of the year.”

“Who will? I didn’t say that.”

“You said you’d pay me 100 percent interest.”

“Yes, and I will. The day you open your account.”

“And one year from now, I’ll have twice that amount.”

“No. I said you get that rate the day you open your account. The next day it drops back to zero. Why, what did you think?”

“Nevermind. Remus, you know I’m not sure I like who this new career has made you. To be honest, you’re becoming a bit of a jerk.”

“Yes, I know. I’m a banker. It’s me! Isn’t it great!”

“No, not really. But ok, let’s back up. So now I’m your customer. Are you actually going to have a bank? I mean a building? A place for me to go get my money?”

“Of course. What good is a bank if you can’t get your money? We’ll have lots of places. Your money!! ANYTIME!! ANYWHERE!!”

“Ok, good.”

“That’s our slogan.”


“Yep, after you pay me a fee, you can have all the money that’s in your account. ANYTIME!! ANYWHERE!!”

“Ok, you don’t have to shout. I get it. But what do you mean, after I pay you a fee?”

“Well, there’s a fee. We’re in business. We’re not working for free.”

“But you have my money and I want…”

“No, no, no. Wait, wait, wait. What did you say?”

“I said, but you have my money and…”

“Hang on. One more time. What did you say?”

“Remus, you heard me. I said you have my money and you …”

“Hahahahaha. Stop. Stop. Your killing me!! Hahahaha. Oh, you silly customer. No sir. Are you joking? Hahahahaha!!! YOUR money?! No sir. What are you talking about? Wait. Wait. Let me catch my breath. Ok. Ok. Now, don’t you remember? That money? You gave it to me.”


“You gave me that money. It’s not yours. It’s my money now. Yes, it is. And I’m sorry, but if you want it back, you’re going to have to pay me. You think I’m in business for free? For the good of society? What are we? Communists? No, my friend. That disappeared long ago. It’s time to move forward.”


“But nothing. You want that money? Fine. It’s my job to make sure it’s still there and that you can get it. And that’s what we’re doing. We have tellers, cards, internet, ATMs. We have a big room in the back to keep all that cash. And you’re welcome to use any of those things, anytime, anywhere.”

“Are you serious? You charge me no matter what method I use?”

“Of course, I do. I’m a bank, after all.”

“But that’s outrageous.  You can’t do that.”

“Ok, so maybe we’ll lower some fees. It doesn’t matter. Our costs are so low, we can’t ever lose money.”

“Really? That’s strange. Usually banks are expensive to run. Just the employees alone cost a lot every month.”

“Expensive, why? We can hire people very cheaply. For almost nothing at all. It’s not like they can get jobs anywhere else.”

“I don’t know. Experienced people want to be paid well. To find good bankers is not that easy anymore.”

“Oh we’re not hiring bankers.”

“What do you mean?”

“No, that’s ridiculous. We don’t need bankers. They ARE expensive.”

“Then what…?”

“No, no. All we need is just a bunch of unemployed actors. Without university is even better for us.”

“What do you mean?”

“They don’t have to do anything. In fact, we don’t want them to do anything They just have to look like bankers. Then they can sit and act like they’re busy.”

“Remus, I’m getting the feeling this is not such a good idea. Think of what will happen. If nothing else, I’m afraid you’ll have lines all over. People will be forced to wait for hours.”

“You think so?”

“Yes, I’m afraid there will be lines out the door and …”

“Out the door? Really?”

“Well, it’s possible from what you’re saying…”

“Oh, that’s great!”


“Yes, that would be great! Exactly what we want.”

“What are you talking about?”

“That’s the strategy, you see. Lines are great. It shows to everyone passing that we’re a popular bank. I thought they’d just see lines through the windows. But out on the sidewalk? That’s even better. We won’t have to advertise at all!”

“You think people will want that?”

“Of course, people like to go to popular places. They like to see that others are there. And this way, they have other people to talk to while they wait.”

“Ok, I’m not so sure. But it does sound like you’ve given this a lot of thought.”

“I have. I have. I told you, I was born to do this. I was born to be a banker.”

“Ok, so let’s say I’m a customer. What else is on your list?”

“That’s it. That’s all that we need.”

“How about products? Services for customers. Savings. Payments. Deposits. Transfers. Those sorts of things.”

“No. That’s not for us. Again, you’re too old-fashioned. You know what? You’re my friend, but honestly, I would never hire you.”

“What do you mean? If you don’t have those products, then what will you do?”

“Haven’t you been listening? Seriously? We get all that money that comes in from the companies. The next day it’s gone anyway. It’s Romania. Everyone takes it out immediately. And why not? They all need the cash. So what good is it to have savings accounts? We’re not paying for that.”

“Well, how about payments and transfers and those sorts of things?”

“Ah, I forget to mention. Now here’s the beauty of my plan. We only open branches next to Post Offices. Anyone needs any of that stuff, we just send them next door. The Post Office is better at it anyway.”

“Ok, well how about loans? The Post Office doesn’t make loans, you know. What will you do when someone wants a loan?”

“Are you joking?”

“What do you mean?”

“Are you joking???”


“Loan people money?! Why on earth would I loan people money?”

“Isn’t that what banks do?”

“WHAT!!?? Hahahaha. Are you joking? I’m going to loan customers MY money?”

“Well, that’s what…”

“Don’t you read a newspaper? No one loans money anymore. That’s what got all those banks in trouble!! Hahahahaha. Ah, that does it. You are SOOO old-fashioned.”

“But I thought….”

“Loan them money!!! Right! Hahahahaha. When pigs fly! Hahahaha. Listen, anybody who’s dumb enough to use this bank isn’t going to get a loan from me.  Hahahaha. I’m not stupid, you know! I’m not giving them my money!”

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