Perfect drivers, such as I recently was, do not know this, but when the law gives you a ticket, you need to pay your fine to URA, via Crane Bank Main Branch, then take the receipt to the police station to indicate that you have cleared your debt to society. At the police station you show them the receipts and then, after you say sorry and promise to never do it again, they clean your slate.
I was highly trepidations about the police station but little did I know how downside-up I had got things.
The police were quick, professional, efficient and helpful, even though I was there in my capacity as a criminal. The bank, however…
Now, I have accounts at three banks. Standard Chartered, Stanbic and Centenary Rural Development Bank, each of which has very comfortable services, which has led me to falsely believe that all banks treat you well, smile, and generally behave the way you are supposed to behave when you are taking a lot of someone’s money away from them.
But this is certainly not the case at Crane Bank.
I stood in the line with my tickets and my money to wait for my turn at the cashier. That is when one of the guards stopped me. “Sir, I notice that you have traffic tickets. You shall need to fill in a bank slip before you get to the cashier,” he said, and I am, of course paraphrasing.
“Where do I get such bank slips?”
The guard pointed me in the right direction, I found the bank slips, picked up two as I always do (in case I make a mistake on one) and returned to the queue, where I met the guard again.
“Sir, not to be nosy, but you haven’t filled in your slip.”
The first question the bank slip asked was who I was paying the money to, and the second question it asked was what this person’s account number was. Surprisingly, I had no idea what the account number of URA was. “I’ll get assistance from the cashier when I get to the counter,” I said to the askari.
He smirked patiently, since such a thing is, apparently possible, and tutted, “She’ll just send you away,” he said. “Here, let me help.”
I did not entirely believe that a cashier would really chase a customer away because he was not an expert in the account numbers of all government departments, but I gave one slip to the askari and, this is true, he filled in the form for me. Fully. Only my signature was missing.
Eventually I made it to the cashier and handed her the tickets, the filled-in bank slip and the cash.
Now, I have friends who have worked as bank cashiers, so I know that it is one very stressful job. You have to endure all manner of idiots, ingrates and impatient louts and take it all in as part of the job. I know not to take tellers and cashiers for granted. I didn’t waste her time. I handed her the things she needed, she took them and I waited for a stamped piece of paper in return, or at least for instructions on where to go next.
Instead she virtually growled that I should stand aside.
“Oh. I’ve got a bitchy one,” I thought, and was justified in thinking so, because from the tone of her voice, she was certainly insulting me in her mind as well.
I stood aside.
Several minutes of just standing there watching her pound wads of money around and shuffle bits of paper up and down, I did what anyone would do. I am not a Crane Bank Cashier, so I cannot just stand around in the lobby doing nothing all day. I walked back to the counter.
I could have said, “What the fuck, are you going to deal with my papers, or not? I don’t have all millennium. What the fuck?”
But I believe in courtesy and civility, that is how I handle myself. So, instead, I said, “Excuse me, you asked me to stand aside and wait several minutes ago, but you haven’t called me to get my receipts. Is something wrong with the documents I gave you?”
She replied in the tone and with the look you would more likely find accompany a witch’s curse the single word: “No.”
I returned to the empty spot of floor I had been warming for the past ten or so minutes now fully aware of the sort of person I was dealing with. No, you don’t argue with people like that. Let me explain.
1. A URA bankslip needs to be filled in. There are two people at the counter. One has training and experience in URA bankslips, and the other does not. How do you get the slip filled in?
a) The person who knows how they should be filled in should send the ignorant person away.
b) The person who knows how they should be filled in should guide the ignorant person
This cashier was not intellectually equipped to answer that question correctly, so I classify her as being of below adequate intelligence. There is nothing to be gained from engaging dumb people in debate.
After another ten minutes, it was beginning to look like I would have to accost this dreadful woman again. I had steeled my nerves and began to step up when another askari stopped me. “Ssebo, is there a problem you need assistance with? I notice you are not in the queue.”
I explained that I had just paid my traffic tickets and the cashier had told me to wait here in purgatory for, apparently, ever.
The askari then pointed across the lobby. “If you have paid, you should be on the other side of the room to wait for your receipt there, sir.”
And surely enough, after I walked just a few steps toward the counter he pointed at, there was a man, holding my receipt asking where Bazanye was.
I could see cashier failing another logic quzzle:
2. A URA fine has been paid, and the receipt requires collection. Do you
a. let the payee just stand in the middle of the bank for several minutes
b. Tell the payee where to get his receipt?
I have no way to understand why she didn’t just tell me instead of making me stand there like that. Did I look like an ex-boyfriend she hated? Was she just a very thick person who just could not figure out how to point at a counter? Was she a Sunday Vision reader who recognized me and didn’t like something I wrote?
Either way, it’s a very very sad commentary on you as a person and as a professional and it says even worse things about the bank you work for if the jobs of the cashiers are being done by the askaris. Your job might suck, but if you suck at it, you suck too.
Crane bank advertises heavily on radio, and there are billboards with Gaetano grinning all over the city. Their slogan is “Growing to serve and serving to grow.”