I first worked for Wells Fargo Bank when I left Reno in the 90’s. I chose Las Vegas, as I wanted to be both closer to New Mexico and as far away from the women of Reno as I could. I landed in an in-store branch at the oldest Lucky’s in Las Vegas. It was at the corner of Nellis and Bonanza. A strip mall had grown around it, along with a Taco Bell, a 7-Eleven. The surrounding neighborhood consisted of cars on blocks, people who spoke more Spanish than English, and whose most prosperous business was a place that cashed checks and offered payday loans seven days a week.
And Wells Fargo had decided this was a great place to push credit cards and home loans. Good luck.
I didn’t last long in Las Vegas, not only because the Wells Fargo gig was a joke, but there’s a life thing about me that I always seem to return to something, give it a second shot so I don’t cement the memory as a failure. So, it made sense that I return to Reno, that I give banking a shot, (This time with Norwest–didn’t want nothing to do with Wells), that I should be married, have a mortgage and a stepson. Yeah, I made it as hard on myself as I could.
Then, my wife’s cancer returned. And what started out as an adventure in love, became a quest of healing.
Then, Norwest was bought out by Wells … didn’t see that one coming.
I worked with some very nice people, the other banker in our northwest office was Janie, who I always thought of as perfectly suited as a TV mom from the 50’s. She’d worked for the school district part-time, wanted to enter the business world for all the right reasons: challenge herself, plan for retirement, etc. Janie didn’t smoke, spoke in plain terms, and couldn’t tell a lie if you put a gun to her head. I wasn’t so noble, but I liked Jane who would catch me outside when I had a smoke break.
“I don’t know this sales thing, Tonster,” she’d say.
“It’s a grind,” I told her. “The numbers they’ve set up aren’t realistic. At least you’ve got a bunch of friends from your years at the school. Me, I gotta find a niche … or something.”
“How’s Patty doing?”
My wife had good days, bad days. At this time we traveled to San Francisco once a month to have stents placed in her bile duct, as the cancerous tumor behind her liver was squeezing that important duct. “She’s looking good. When she’s got her color, you’d never even know she was sick.”
“Good. I don’t know how you do it.”
Well, I did. And it was best I didn’t talk about it. I blew smoke as Janie went on.
“Hey,” she said, “I had a couple of old folks in today . . . had to fix their account.”
“They had overdraft on there that they didn’t authorize.”
“I’ve had some of the same. I’ve become a customer service dude more than anything else.”
Janie shook her head. Her brow furrowed. “We can’t spend our time on that stuff with the sales goals staring us in the face.”
I threw my butt down and stomped on it. “It’ll pass. How much of that can there be?”