We signed a lease yesterday, and what a pain in the ass that was. Sign this, sign that, initial here, here, and here. 12 pages in all, for our new apartment in Hamilton Heights.
We then we handed over the checks, one for one month’s rent, one month’s deposit, and the realtor’s fee. The cute Lara was very happy on making her first commission.
“You’re not a virgin anymore,” Danusia exclaimed.
Not just any checks, mind you, but cashier’s checks that I went through a lot of trouble to get the day before.
I went to my bank, the HSBC branch on 14th Street and 6th Avenue. It was empty when I got there, and I asked to see a bank officer, as I wanted to merge one savings account with another, and I wanted to sign up for internet banking and get the cashier’s checks.
“Well, sir, you have to go to the window for the cashier’s checks, but I can help you with the rest.” I had a large amount of cash, $4,700 dollars for the three checks I needed to get. I went to the window, and there was only one teller there.
The single teller, a black woman in her 40’s was waiting on a young white woman. The customer was a very pretty woman not more than 30 in sneakers, yoga pants, and a Patagonia fleece running jacket.
“And I want it all in singles,” she said to the woman behind the window.
The Black woman frowned.
“Just joking, give me the biggest bills you have.”
The young woman was closing her account, I gathered from the overheard conversation, and she wanted all her money in cash. The woman behind the window looked at me and said:
“Sir, this is a big transaction, it will take some time.” She had a Caribbean accent, Jamaican or something like that. Not Haitian, I know that much.
“It’s OK, I’ll wait.”
She went back to her computer screen and began the transaction.
“What is your occupation, Miss?” She asked the jogging girl.
“Troublemaker.” She answered. Shades of Frances Farmer, I thought.
There was more frowning and typing on the keyboard. The woman behind the window was very unhappy.
More people started to pile up behind me. I stood at the window next to the one they were at and fingered my 47 $100 dollar bills.
“Look, this gentleman has a lot of cash, maybe he can help you?” The jogging girl said to the unhappy Caribbean woman. The bank lady ignored her.
She locked her drawer and went outside to get one of the bank officers. One of the women sitting at a desk followed her back behind the bulletproof glass and they both stared at her computer screen together, as if that would make it work faster. She typed and clicked her mouse and shook her head.
The woman I’d spoken to first approached the growing line of people behind me and asked if she could help any of them use the ATM.
“Sorry, we only have one teller today and she is doing a long transaction.”
A couple of people left to walk to the other HSBC branch on 8th Avenue. I overheard the woman tell someone this branch was closing.
“That’s why this branch is closing, because it sucks!” Said a man as he turned to leave.
20 minutes passed, then 30, with a few more trips to another computer outside of the cage and more head shaking.
The teller took time out to take my money and put it into the counting machine. I made out a deposit slip and put the money into my account. I was asked to wait for her to finish with the “young lady” and then she would cut my checks.
Finally after a few more clicks of the mouse she magically opened her drawer and took out a huge pile of $100 bills, including the ones I had just given her. She put a pile at least six inches high in the counter and turned it on. I estimate it had to be at least 60 or 70 thousand dollars. I briefly thought of going after the young lady after she left and relieving her of the money. I could use 60 or 70 thousand dollars.
At one point she responded to a comment from one of the impatient people in line.
“Sorry. What can I say, I’m a billionaire!” Not quite, I thought.
She was finally led to a desk to count her money and I was called to the window. I waited another 20 minutes for the unhappy teller to unfreeze her computer screen so she could cut my checks. Some asshole in line behind me muttered; “What’s this guy doing, buying the bank?”
After listening to him say that to a few more people I said to him,
“Sir, I’ve been here for well over an hour. Surely you can wait another 5 minutes.” I wanted to punch him in the face.
The teller printed out my checks, and it was a long involved process of looking over each printout and signing it before she cut the checks.
After getting my checks I went back to the first woman, who helped me figure out my online banking.
“Thank you for your patience, sir, that was a very unusual situation we had today.”
“Sure, no problem, “ I said as I thanked her and walked out. I looked at my watch just to make sure that I wasn’t imagining being in the bank for almost 2 hours.
At least now we have a new apartment. I’m dreading the move, but I’ve done it dozens of times before, so I know it will be OK.
If you are thinking of opening a new bank account, don’t go to HSBC. There are fewer branches than ever, and what I witnessed Monday afternoon doesn’t bode well for the future of HSBC.
Money makes the world go around.