Most people dismiss financial institutions as pathologically self-serving monoliths dedicated to wrenching profits from their clientele through usurious fees and backbreaking interest payments. Others agree. Sure, ragging on banks is easier than shooting slugs in a bucket, but one particular bank has recently made its way onto my shit list, and not for reasons you might imagine.
It’s not Huge Monster A, which urges us to “live richly” by skipping along the road of life and not getting hung up about money. This bothers the hell out of me. Is this hippie vibe supposed to tell us that you don’t care whether my money earns any interest? If so, why should I give it to you? Or instead, are you goading us into dreaming our dreamy dreams so we’ll turn a blind eye to the billions you’ve paid in fines for predatory lending, illegal bond trading, and biased stock research?
It’s also not Huge Monster B, which has a brand-new slogan that proudly touts something called “maximum-strength checking.” This would be fine, I guess, if these wondrous new perks weren’t commonplace a few years ago. No minimum balance! No ATM fees! Overdraft protection! These are the exact services that were discontinued after one of its mergers. (“Maximum strength checking! Now, no more compulsory enemas!” Whoop-dee-doo.)
The bank in question is a relative upstart that has turned the banking game on its venal, pointy head by opening seven days a week and cooking up myriad stunts to woo customers. One of these is a huge talking machine that counts your loose change. Before you dump that two-quart beer stein full of pennies into the slot, it lets you guess how much your coins are worth. If your prediction is within $1.99 of the total, you win a prize.
As fate would have it, I was off by about 60 cents. I took my receipt to the teller, who shrieked, “We have a winner!” And all the employees thinly masked their depression over having to work on a Sunday and applauded. I took my cash and stood there, basking in triumph and awaiting my award, which turned out to be [drumroll] ... a pile of useless corporate swag.
This why de-crapment is such serious business. The forces of re-crapment are always baying at the door.