Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Being an Old Guy is a Bitch....(and then you die)

I've decided that one of the worst things about being an old guy is that you remember things.

This morning, I drove over to the bank. My wife and I usually do things somewhat differently. I take advantage of the ease of access and nearness of the "old people" facilities that they've built since a Sun City was introduced northwest of our town. She braves the traffic to go to the old facilities across I35.

On my way today, I passed by a house that was once on a dead-end street, but now is on the "backdoor" route to and from our subdivision. My neighbor and I once went up there to collect a pickup load of horse poop.

The house has a stable in back, and the owners keep horses. I think that the place has been beautifully maintained, and probably looks even better than when we once mucked out the stable.

All the time I was driving to the bank, and even after I transacted my business, I was reminiscing about the way things used to be.

I grew up in an era before computers were generally available. In a time when Texas laws prevented the establishments of branch banks, and banking was all local. It was during the '80's, I think, when the laws were changed, and Texas began to allow branch banking, and the laws governing usury were rescinded.

The old system was not perfect, by any means. Once, when my dad and I had accounts at the same bank, on more than one occasion, our deposits or withdrawals would be improperly credited, but it was a snap to fix, either by telephone or by a personal appearance.

I can remember a time when, around Christmas, our bank account had somehow become screwed up because some anticipated revenue had been postponed, and we managed to go into the hole on the account! When I went in to explain the situation, the lady I talked to was soooo apologetic that the were now having to put a $1.50 fee on returned checks (but they trusted us, and knew that we'd cover the bad paper in a timely manner).

Now, how many banks do we have, really? I certainly don't know, but apparently they're "too big to be allowed ot fail", and the United States Government must throw money at them to try to "stimulate the economy".

I suppose they must be too big even to stimulate the economy, though, and from what I've heard, the money they were given has been hoarded, or used to grow bigger. Is that the American Way? Maybe it is. Maybe the Uncle Jim view of human nature is right, and I'm the odd ball.

Perhaps the computerization of the banking industry has made it more efficient. I'm not even sure I know that. In the little (branch) bank where I was today, there was only one teller at the counter, so we had a line. The business ahead of me was transacted rather quickly, and the particular service I wanted, even more quickly. The computers helped with that, I'm very sure, but I think that us old guys have begun to feel quite removed from our banks, which seem to have come to be far to big and impersonal.

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