Wednesday, January 19, 2011

This one time, when I worked at a bank.

It's come to my attention that I'm crap with money.

Well, I suppose I've know for years. But it has become especially noticeable now that I'm self-employed, and have to deal with all the finances... myself. Gulp. Taxes, keeping receipts, making records, etc. And honestly, you might as well tie me to a wall and start poking me with spears right now.

Before the invention of online tax returns, I once had the awful experience of having to actually go into HR Block (it even sounds like a prison) to do my taxes, in person, with another person in a suit and a frown. J had to prod me under the table as I slowly slumped into a nap during the meeting. It was that boring, seriously.

It started at school. I had the distinct feeling my math teacher disliked me when, instead of paying attention to her mathematical rantings, I sat drawing things non-math-related on my note book and chatted at the back of the classroom.

I hated math, and spent my school years avoiding it. 

So it made perfect sense (?) when, after dropping out of my journalism degree at the age of eighteen, I started looking for jobs in the financial sector, in the City of London.

"What do you know about marine insurance?" An employment agency rep asked me.

I smiled and cheekily replied. "Absolutely nothing, but I can learn!"

He chuckled and put me forward for an interview with Lloyds of London.

I didn't get the glamorous job at Lloyds of London. If I had, I would probably by now have been a top millionaire marine insurer, with my own office overlooking Liverpool Street station and a driver. And a boat.

Instead, I landed a not-so-glamorous position at a bank, as a cashier (or teller, as they say here in North America).

It didn't go well. I wasn't good at calculating sums in my head and became permanently attached to a calculator. But I liked the customers, and I liked my co-workers, and I made the best of it by striking up conversations and generally attempting to make it into more of a social fun place than a job.

Then one day at five o'clock, it was time to balance my til as usual. This meant checking the money left in the til against the money I'd taken in and given out during the day. To my horror, two hundred pounds was missing. There was much shuffling and humm-ing and haw-ing as my managers tried to figure out what to do.

Nothing was done, the money was gone. No one had any idea what had happened (me included). 

Amazingly I wasn't fired, but over the next few days I noticed a strange thing happening: certain customers were only coming to my til. As in, actually refusing the other cashiers in favour of me. Ahem.

I didn't last long in the bank job. After a few months, I'd changed my mind again, and decided I wanted to study design. Plus, I'd decided that working in the real world was loathsome, and wanted to go back to being a student.

As it turned out, I was much better suited to design, and stayed with it for the next ten years.

But now, here I am, however many years later, still unable to decipher the difference between baffling terms like "gross" and "net", and screwing my fists up into balls and accusing the world of conspiring against me when faced with financial forms and questions.

I need to get financially savvy! That sounds lame. But I do. Desperately.

And this is why, readers, I am going to make doubly, triply sure that I teach my sons all about money (and when I say "I", I mean "J" of course), so that they don't end up thirty-something years old and googling things like "is a bookkeeper kind of like a fairy godmother?".

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Blondie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
fiona2107 said...

You seriously crack me up!
I thought I was the only one who was that bad with money! hehehe
I smiled in recognition all the way through that post :)

James (SeattleDad) said...

Teach them young and then they can handle your money when you get older. Perfect plan.

Loukia said...

First of all! You are JUST LIKE ME! I hate numbers and math and I have no idea what my finance are and I'm too scared to find out! ALSO! You are just like Confessions of a Shopaholic!

Elaine A. said...

You crack me up!!

And also? This is why I married an accountant. :-)

LisaDay said...

Damn. Could you become a cashier again and slip me an extra few dollars. Too funny.

I think it would be best if you hired an accountant.


ModernMom said...

As another Mama who is truly horrid with numbers I would like to say...we make up for it in other ways:)

WhisperingWriter said...

I hate math. I am awful with it. I seriously have to add with my fingers most of the time.

Mammatalk said...

I worked as a cashier years and years ago. Nightmare.

Mwa said...

I can help! A gross net is what you get when you hand Federer a ball of apricot jam instead of a ball. (Awful, I know. Sorry.)

I'm awful with finances as well, but it's even worse in this case because I have absolutely no excuse: I even have a maths degree! I just refuse to deal with things. Also not good.

Harriet Faulks said...

Haha, fret not! I, for one, don’t think that working at a bank is for everyone. I think it’s one of the best examples of, “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.” I have great respect for you for trying your hand at it and lasting as long as you did. Even though you didn’t seem to possess the specific skill set that’s needed in banking jobs, you showed perseverance and determination. That’s definitely something to be proud of! Maybe your children would do better with math and money, though. Haha!