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The Gift Of Paranoia

, , , , , | Right | August 3, 2020

I’m working at a bank, and my main job is to sit down with customers in an office for basically anything that you might come to a bank for that’s more complex than basic transactions.

One of my regulars is a gentleman who is very nice but also very paranoid. He refuses to allow mail, even though he already uses a post office box, because “people keep getting into his box.”

To get around mandatory disclosure requirements, he sets up all statements to be online… but he never sets up an online account or checks his emails because he doesn’t trust them, either. Some disclosures are important enough that when they are not opened online, they will automatically be mailed — in particular, the mandatory disclosure of when a share certificate is coming due. And he has a lot of share certificates.

Whenever he receives one of these notices, he comes in and opens a new account and closes the old one due to his fear that the mail that came from the bank was pulled out of his post office box, read, and then put back exactly how it was, included resealing the envelope, to try to fool him. He also will close out certificates early, paying the early close penalty, only to open a new one right away, just to avoid those renewal notices going out.  

I work with him a lot, opening up new accounts and share certificates. Part of his paranoia is that people are trying to steal from him, sometimes with very convoluted reasoning, so you’d better believe that I am even more careful than I always am about making certain everything is done perfectly, with absolutely nothing that could hint at a break of privacy. I also never skip out on requesting the multiple passwords on his account or checking the two IDs — his account request, not our policy.

So he trusts me. And he decides that he will show this trust… by trying to give me money.

At first, he just straight-up offers cash — $20 or $50 bills — as tips. I explain that I work for a bank. I cannot take tips or financial gifts.  

Then, he starts hiding the cash in my office. He’s not very good and I always check my office for private materials left before taking the next customer, so I just take the cash to the teller line and have it deposited into his account. I have no way to call him, either, by the way; he doesn’t trust phones.

I have my manager talk to him about this. It turns out he’s picked up this habit with the other employees that he trusts to help him also. After the manager talks to him about it, he switches to gift cards.  

Those are still refused. Keep in mind, these are not $5 cards; they are $50 or $100. I make a folder for him in the lock files just to be able to hold any cards that get left behind so we can return them the next time he comes in.

I get smart. I let him know that if he leaves any gift cards behind, I will have to mail them back to him.

The attempted gifts immediately stop.

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