Have a Magical Day . . . Wells Fargo ♡ You!


(photo: Loren Javier / flickr)

On Friday afternoon, I overheard a teller at Wells Fargo (“WF”) say to a cranky customer at the termination of their business, “Have a magical day!”  Where are we, Disneyland?

The guy apologized (I kid you not) for not being in a better mood. 

It’s like a competition. The tellers are vying to be the perkiest, nicest, most PC people you’ll ever meet, offering you bottles of water and Dum Dums lollipops, but no real service. They are so cheery that they kind of shame you when you aren’t as perky and caffeinated as they are. It’s like walking into a Miss America competition with white-toothed smiles, big-haired young women and amenable young men. 

When the smooth-talking bespectacled skinny-suited young greeter/host/manager/emcee approached the huge snaking line of bedraggled customers and asked, “Is there anything I can do for you while you’re waiting, a bottle of water perhaps?” 

I responded, “Get us more tellers.” 

He said, “Oh, you know I’d like to do that more than anything in the world.  But if you change your mind, here’s some water.”  He set down the bottles of water on the table holding the deposit slips and such and ever-smiling, slinked away. 

After waiting a good 20 minutes, I got to an actual teller.   

She said, “Thank you soooo much for your patience today,” with giant shark teeth and a gorgeous thick head of hair.  She could have been a contestant on American Idol.  Is that how they’re recruiting tellers now?  Qualifications:  must have very white teeth, be cloyingly perky, and ALWAYS thank the customer for their patience.  I was there to pay my mortgage, but she couldn’t locate my account on the system and said, “Do you know the prefix for your loan number?” GIANT SMILE. 

“No, I’ve never been asked for it before.”  (I’ve had this mortgage with Wells Fargo for 7 years.)

“Okay. May I have your date of birth?” 

“Okay,” and I gave it to her.  “Is there a problem?” 

“No, no problem.”

She told me she was new at the bank and wrote down my 20 digit/letter prefix for future reference.

“Have a wonderful weekend!” she said.

“You do the same.” 

Perhaps I’m not so enamored of WF, having had several bad experiences in the past:

(1) We were flooded during Hurricane Irene and they would not cash our insurance check for 4 months;

(2) They refused to refinance our underwater mortgage because our credit was too good; and

(3) They paid the taxes on a property other than ours, using our money and would not fix the problem without a call from a 1%-er that we knew.

In short, I don’t like Wells Fargo. When a teller hands me Dum Dums, a bottle of water or tells me to “have a magical day,” I really want to tell them, “You have not won my good will with treats and magical wishes. Kindly shove them up your ass!”


The Weight of Lunch

His and Her's

(photo credit: Jen Gallardo / flickr)

By L.E. Swenson

We started carrying lunch to work consistently about a year ago. Prior to that, I would grouse and complain that I didn’t want to carry lunch. It was too heavy! I had childhood socioeconomic creeps from growing up in the privileged section of the North Shore of Long Island. 

“Only the poor kids had their brown bags at lunch, and dammit, we are not that poor.”

We are that poor. Only poor people resort to the financial self help gurus like Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman.

We did the math and that tore it. We were spending upwards of $300 to $400 a month on lunch and Starbucks and snacks. I was doing the lion’s share of the spending. Some days, I would buy breakfast too. None of this conspicuous consumption helped us get out of debt, nor did it do my waistline any good. In fact it helped my waistline turn into a wasteland. Rich Manhattan lunches for 10 to 20 bucks a pop were killing us financially and physically.

For those of you who live in sprawling commuter cities, let me take a moment to describe the plight of the NYC commuter.

My mother and brother were visiting me from Savannah, Georgia.

My brother who was 9 at the time asked our mother, “Why does he (me) carry a backpack?”

To which Mom replied, “This isn’t like home where if you forget something you can just drive home and get it. You have to bring everything with you when you leave the house in the morning.” 

My mom left the New York area for Savannah some 20 years ago and when asked, she always has the same response, “too many people,” followed by, “I don’t want to have to have a battle plan every time I leave the house.”

I have since moved to the suburbs and find that not only have our battle plans grown sparser, but the amount of stuff we have to leave the house with has increased in proportion. The suburban commute is not so much a battle plan as a war of attrition. You bear it as long as you can, and the battle plan is simply stated: “Get to work on time” and “Get home as quickly as possible,” and hope you didn’t forget anything.

To the urbanite/commuter here in NYC the weight of lunch can greatly increase the “schlep” factor. With the exceptions of the 1% who travel around the city in the relative comforts of cabs and flunky-driven cars, we urban backpackers have to be aware of our carry capacity, and lunch just adds to the weight. 

The New Normal demands that we grow a little stronger, carry a little more, indulge a little less and find more enjoyment in the little things. Like a homemade lunch. 

L.E. Swenson received his bachelor’s degree in English from S.U.N.Y. Buffalo. He went on to study Theater at the New School for Social Research and received his Masters of Fine Arts in 1999. He has performed in regional theater at Buffalo’s Irish Classical Theater and Shakespeare in Delaware Park. He has written, acted, coached and stage managed in the New York area and continues to write and work in New York.