Just over a year ago the 2008 recession struck the nation by surprise, shocking millions of Americans and crippling the financial system. At the time I was working as a teller at Bank of America. In the beginning, about a year before the recession hit, I thought my job was cool. I got to dress up in a suit and tie everyday and looked professional when I went out for lunch on my break. But in the summer of 2008, the atmosphere in the banking center changed. We had to follow new operating guidelines and more often than not it involved refusing – in my opinion “normal” – banking services to customers.
I worked as the merchant teller on Friday’s and Saturday’s. While the economy continued to slump, I processed all the corporate and small business client transactions and each day gradually resembled the next. It was the same story from every customer. “We have to cut hours and close more locations,” the corporate coffee shop manager said. “I’m not paying myself for all the hours I’ve worked” said the small business owner. And to top it all off, accounts were closing around the clock and I was cashing more unemployment checks every Friday.
My job lost its cool. It wasn’t even fun interacting with the customers anymore. It was downright depressing. I turned away so many customers during this time period; I actually would try to avoid helping certain customer lest I have to turn them away again.
Connie Zanotto, owner of “The Escape” bar on Bascom Avenue in San Jose Calif., was one of our banking center’s small business clients. I helped manage her accounts and kept track of her finances several times a week and soon built a professional business relationship with her. As the recession set in Zanotto saw a decline in business and soon would have to combat the forces of the slumping economy.
Watch Connie Zanotto explain business at “The Escape” during the recession.