This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, June 01, 2011.
Bankers are often entirely nice folks, in my experience, but they do so many things oddly, hypercritically, and dangerously.
I'm not talking about the high end frauds and near treasonous activity to bankrupt the nation. I'm talking about the little things. For example, their inability to prevent robberies of their banks in broad daylight and their seeming disinterest in facing that - I would claim - key portion of their job.
Bank robberies are so common, that unless they feature gunfire or require helicopter coverage, they rarely make the front page or top of the broadcast at all. Bank robberies are becoming more frequent, and this statistic caught my eye. In Denver alone, since January 1, eighty bank robberies have been recorded, up from 64 same period last year. Strike you as rather high? Seems to me Boulder has a lot, as well.
The FBI injects some fear and claims recent hold ups are more violent, takeover-style robberies, and they think this may be because street gangs use it as a rite of passage. What irks me is that bank robbers only face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Up to? IF convicted with all the modern contraptions to catch them? Television news run pretty remarkable close ups of these robbers they get from the security cameras.
We're to take pleasure in knowing that around 85 percent of bank robberies since 2007 have been solved. What percentage of the money was recovered?
Banks used to be formidable places, and the teller counter had bars and often armed guards puttered about. This was so people thought twice about taking on the risk of robbing one. Can't say that always worked, but the idea, I would contend, was right. Bankers and tellers and guards all looked like they hadn't had a successful bowel movement in decades which also added to the general cheer. It was a bank, not a group therapy session.
Today, while waiting in line to withdraw cash, you can peer around virtually any bank in Boulder and think you're in a solarium, with big windows and lots of healthy sunlight, plants, and sometimes cookies a staff member baked and brought it. In the old days, banks did not have music playing in the background, and when they did it ran to the predictable Muzak mortuary playlist just to set the mood for a declined loan request or mortgage foreclosure. Today, though, the music is Chamber of Commerce hip, past the tribute band years but high fidelity with actual bass response in the speakers. Your teller is young, protected only by a wide counter. There is sometimes thick glass which I assume is effectively bullet proof if the robber could not actually go to the bother of lifting the pistol a few inches above the top.
There are many, many cameras to catch people handing the teller a note demanding cash, which seems to be not as rare in their lives as I would like. But robbers learn, and who would ever have thought they could come up with the brilliant gambit of wearing a hat, often a sword fisherman's hat with the long bill. Sometimes they go to the extreme of a beard or facial hair as well. Sometimes it's fake, but so realistic he'd have to be within a business block of you to notice how bizarre in looks. And of course dark glasses. In my experience in Boulder, only one bank has a sign saying no dark glasses or hats before you enter.
Direct robbery may not be needed. I do know that I can hear, waiting in line, personal and financial information being discussed between bank officers and customers of such a personal nature that it should only be communicated in private if not a confessional for any enthused extortionist. Even with my ears blown by decades of feedback, I can hear it all in the echoing chamber of a bank lobby. Unneeded overshare, and it's dangerous.
When I need cash, the teller counts it out after inquiring "how I want that thousand dollars cash" in the same dulcet stage whisper that rattles the windows. I don't want people knowing I carry cash, and I don't like them audibly counting it out, since I count it silently again.
In short, I'd like banks to take better care of our money, in small and large measure, and not endanger me as I leave, and then the national economy in their off moments. And along with uncollected credit card debt, I'd like to know how much banks lose to the brazen thieves they make small effort to thwart.