I was 16 years old, standing in a long line at Amherst Savings Bank. This was 1975, when you still went to a bank building to do banking. It was after high school, and I was on a tight schedule to ride my bike to my job at the General Nutrition Center at the Hadley Mall. As the line inched toward the teller, I looked at my watch, trying to calculate what the chances were of me getting to my job on time, with the 12 people ahead of me in line.

A minute later, a gentleman in a suit came up to me and said “Sir, if you’ll step over here we can take care of you.” He nodded to a teller sitting at a desk behind the row of teller windows, and she came up to the window, opened it, and took care of my small deposit. When I asked her the name of my benefactor, she said that was the president of the bank. It blows me away today, all these years later, that the president, walking by, noticed, among the dozens of customers waiting, a 16-yr. old boy who seemed to be in a hurry.

Still anchoring the corner, now a Bank of America.

I left Amherst, Massachusetts in 1976 after graduating high school, and rode my bicycle 4,200 miles across the country. When I hit California I stayed, and have been on the west coast ever since. But for decades after leaving Amherst, I maintained my account at the Amherst Savings Bank. The bank has long since closed, or been bought up. Today that building is a Bank of America. When I visit Amherst and go by that intersection, I always remember that afternoon when I was seen by the president.

It’s a reminder to me, who can I ‘see’, and help, if I’m not too busy with my own to-do list? What’s a time when you were ‘seen’ by someone who intervened in your life to make a difference?

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  1. Here’s my bank story. I had recently graduated Berkeley with a MBA. I thought I was hot shit. I had just purchased my first car, a first year Mazda RX-7 (I’m old). During the loan process at my local B of A (Los Gatos branch), they asked insulting questions like how long I’ve worked, lived in my house, etc. All my responses were in days or less. There was no way I was getting a car loan.

    As I was waiting for the loan officer to finish laughing and return her negative response, an old friend from my UCSB math days tapped me on the shoulder. It was good seeing and catching up with him. I finally asked what he was doing there. He responded that he was the manager of the bank. The loan officer returned from her office, saw us talking. There were some head nods. I got the loan.

    1. LOVE this story! Sam, there’s definitely a negative way to look at it… “it’s not what you know but who you know.” On the other hand, everything we want to accomplish in life involves other people, no matter how smart or hard-working we are. We should focus energy on getting better at relationships, not just for us, but for the sake of others.

  2. We met before your move to California. I remember so well that time.
    This president was a good one.
    I remember when I was myself (not president just director ) working in a bank.
    Sometimes, I stayed at the reception desk, many clients didn’t know me as the manager.
    Once, I tried to deliver a checkbook and I wasn’t very fast as I wasn’t used to the transaction.
    I used to smile saying “sorry, I’am not so brave I’m just the director”.
    The woman in front of me remained so surprised I was dealing her transaction. I explained the person in charge was doing another task in another desk so I went to help not to keep waiting anyone, to meet the clients I didn’t see otherwise. She was very flattered and so pleased to meet such a manager.
    For me, it was just right, usual…
    Thank you to have risen to the surface from my memory this nice personal “souvenir”

    Hope my english still “understandable”

    1. Catherine, I forgot that we have known each other that long! Oui, bien sur, providing excellent service, going above and beyond to care for your customers, is always understandable! Thanks so much for sharing, and connecting again!

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