South Taranaki Star

Seems every day’s a bank holiday

- Opinion Virginia Fallon

The other day I found myself in a place I haven’t been for a very long time. It wasn’t the office obviously – don’t be ridiculous – but somewhere even more unlikely and unfamiliar.

I was beside myself with excitement to be there because I’d given up hope the moment would ever come.

As I staggered up to the entrance I wondered if it actually had, or whether the security guards were a mirage.

They weren’t, and yes, they said, the bank is open.

My tale of woe begins with the debit card that must have slipped out of my pocket while I was running on the beach during my holiday. (By this I mean I was running from a wave on the beach, but let’s pretend it doesn’t.)

Anyhow, the card was gone. No big deal, I thought, I’ll pop into the bank and get another.

Anyone who’s thought something similar recently will know just how deluded that was.

There is no such thing as popping into a bank these days, because there’s barely such a thing as an actual bank.

The beach I’d been running on (shush) is surrounded by small towns that used to have banks. The internet says they still have banks but on closer inspection these banks are just bank machines, no good for anything other than getting cash from. Yes, I needed cash, but I needed a card first.

I rang the bank’s 0800 number to ask how to get a new card.

‘‘Just pop into your nearest branch,’’ the nice lady told me, adding that the nearest branch was 90 minutes away.

When I told her I’d have to go to my local bank on Monday, she told me Monday was a bank holiday. I now suspect every day is a bank holiday.

Back home on the day after the bank holiday I waddled along to my local branch.

I pressed my face against the tinted windows to confirm there was a bank there, once, and I could see the desks and signs to confirm it. It had every appearance of being a bank, just no bank people.

The sign said it was closed. Not why, or when it would be open, or whether someone would be back in 10 minutes.

I looked it up on the internet: ‘‘Open from 10am,’’ it told me. It was 11am.

This was the bank I went to as a child. It had ashtrays you’d stomp with your foot to open, and pens attached to the desks by chains you could throttle your brother with. It had deposit slips you could draw rude pictures on or pretend they were cheques. It was a wonderful place.

The bank around the corner wasn’t open either. According to the sign on its door it opens four days a week for four hours from midday, though it wasn’t my bank so was no good to me.

The bank in the next town over had a local number listed, but it was the 0800 number in disguise.

‘‘Pop into your local branch,’’ the nice man said, telling me my local branch was now in the town next to the next town over.

Finally I was there. The nice lady at the door asked what my business was, and I told her I needed a card.

She let me in, I got a card, and all was well. A few weeks earlier my applicatio­n for a mortgage top-up had been declined. Too much withdrawin­g lately, the bank explained.

Virginia Fallon is a Stuff senior writer and columnist. She lives two towns over from her nearest bank.

 ?? STACY SQUIRES/STUFF ?? Popping into a bank isn’t quite so simple these days, writes Virginia Fallon.
STACY SQUIRES/STUFF Popping into a bank isn’t quite so simple these days, writes Virginia Fallon.
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