Earlier this week I went by the bank to deposit some checks. Conveniently, there is a drive thru on my way home from the office. After waiting only a brief minute or two, the teller spoke to me from her seat via a microphone that connected to a speaker outside. She sits in her seat inside the bank building. I sit in my car. A window separates us, yet we talk to one another as if it’s completely normal to sit in a car and in an office and have a conversation. A few seconds later and my deposit receipt was being sent to me mysteriously through a wall. We send one another pieces of paper through a tube that gets sucked up into the ceiling of the drive thru and ends up magically right where we sit – her in her office, me in my car. I don’t have to move. She doesn’t have to move. She keys in my info. I scroll through my Twitter feed.
There was something else with the receipt, however: Suckers. Yeah, you guessed it – ‘Dum Dum’ Suckers. A strawberry, a chocolate, and two root beers. She said they were for the kids. Here’s where it gets scary crazy: my kids weren’t in the car. It was just me. This lady gave my kids suckers and they weren’t even there! She remembered I had kids. Notice too – this is the REALLY, REALLY crazy part – that I have 3 kids and she gave me 4 suckers. Why the 2 root beers? Because she knows that’s the only kind Seth likes.
Here’s a woman that has been hired by the bank to have a conversation with people who are driving by in their cars and key in information that they send her via a plastic tube from the ceiling. That’s why she’s there. But she does so much more. She knows the people sending her their earthly livelihood and remembers tiny details about them. She doesn’t just do her job. She does her job with peculiar attention to the people who come through her domain. She remembered I had kids. She knew one of them only liked root beer ‘Dum Dums.’
Guess what? I want to go through that drive thru again. Guess what else? I want her as my teller. Guess what else? I want to keep banking at that particular bank. And, finally, guess what else? I felt like somebody cared.
Sucker punch: I wonder how many people leave the property at First Baptist Church on Sundays and during the week and feel that way? I wonder how many times I have been guilty of going through the duties of my job without ever paying attention to peculiarities of people? What’s so convicting here is that banking is about money transactions. This bank, however, made it more about people. Churches, I fear, make what is supposed to be about people and turn it into dutiful transactions.
I’m not sure if the ‘sucker-happy-I-care-about-you-and-your-family’ bank teller was trained or if she just ‘gets it.’ But I will tell you this: there is no doubt she gets the ‘big picture’ of the bank she works for. She wasn’t just doing her job, her thing, her routine. She was operating for the good of the whole. She was willing to do whatever it took so that the entire institution would thrive.
This leaves me with a lot to think about. I pastor a church that is to be known for its love for people. I think it would serve me/us all well to go get a bag of ‘Dum Dums’ and ponder how we can intentionally know and minister the people we are called to serve.
It might just leave a good taste in the mouths of those who come.