I Wuz Just Thinking: Life can be one mistake after the other

Mistakes from the past provide lessons we all need to learn as we travel through this life of ours. Even banks make mistakes.

While going thru papers that had been stuck back in drawers for years, old letters, cards from various occasions, and old bank statements.   There, still folded in a  yellowed envelope was a letter, actually several letters.   The envelope had the name and address of a bank as well as the letterhead tucked inside.  I once used this bank while living in Houston, Texas, in 1966.

Living in the same apartment complex and just across the hall was a widow, Mrs. Leggett.  I thought of her as elderly at the time, as she was in her 70’s.

We enjoyed each other’s company and I enjoyed listening to her stories of when she had lived most of her life in California. From her talks, looking at her pictures, and seeing how well cared for she was even then, it appeared she had been blessed with a privileged life. She had never worked outside the home as her husband had been a very good provider.

At the time, my husband worked many hours, leaving out before daylight and returning home after dark.  He worked at one of the plants as a pipefitter and was paid quite well.

We only had one car, and of course, he drove it to work, so any business matters we had to tend to was at night…such as making bank deposits after the bank had closed for the day.

The bank had a drive-thru dropbox where you deposited your paycheck with your deposit slip in the same envelope.

This particular night,  we did just that.

In those days, I paid for everything by check, either in person or by mail.

Soon, I began receiving notices in the mail that my checks were bouncing … stating there was no money in my checking account.  I phoned the bank to see about my balance and learned two things that horrified me. There was no money in the account, and I was over-drawn because of the returned checks.

Not a little.

A lot.

The bank had no record of our last deposit  I tried to explain that we had dropped off a deposit, gave a date, time of night, and the amount, as well as the check number.  The bank had no record.

I had no telephone, and the lady across the hall graciously allowed me to give out her phone number in case someone needed it.  When I received a call, she would knock on my door.

Phone calls began pouring in from the grocery store, the dry cleaners, the shoe repair shop, as well as my credit cards for gasoline, etc.  Being in the room with me, she could hear my conversations about “not paying my bills and writing hot checks”.

After hanging the phone, I tried to explain to her about the “bounced checks” and that we really had deposited the money in the bank.

She had that “motherly” look about her and softly said, “Honey, banks don’t make mistakes.”

My husband took off work, and we went to talk to the bank officer in person.  He simply shook his head and explained we didn’t have any money in our account. We were over-drawn. The matter had to be cleared up.

Now.

Immediately.

Thankfully, my husband had more paychecks come in, and we were able to pay the outstanding checks and cover the overdraft charges.

Sometime later, I received a phone call at my friends apartment. She knocked on the door and said the bank was on the phone for me.  I could not imagine what had happened this time!

The banker apologized to me.  It seems, not only had our check deposit gone missing, but on that same date, quite a few other customers who had made drive-thru deposits complained their bank accounts balances were not accurate either.

As the banker explained to me, a whole stack of deposits had somehow been misplaced.  As the custodian was going thru each piece of paper before throwing it into the incinerator, he recognized that he wasn’t holding a handful of trash to be burned. He had customers’ checks and deposit slips in his hand.

The banker reimbursed our money, sent letters of apology to everyone who had received my inefficient check, and mailed me a copy of each.

I was so relieved.  I immediately took the stack of letters of apologies to my dear neighbor to show her that I had not been lying.  She took the group of letters and looked at each one slowly and carefully and then said, “Oh my, I did not know banks made mistakes”.

I have kept these apology letters from the bank all these years, so when something “unusual” comes in my life, I think about those letters and remind myself that “banks don’t make mistakes.”

I wuz jus’ thinkin’.

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