The Traineeship | Part One

So I mentioned in my previous post (read: New Beginnings) that I snagged myself a job as a Trainee Teller. I’ve been meaning to write about my experiences in my new job much earlier but I guess I’ve just been caught up in this new world. There’s allot for me to say, so I’m going to break this up into parts. Anyway, welcome to Part One.

Where to begin? On my first day at the bank I waited by the front doors at 9am and was let in by Amy. Amy was a Personal Banker. She may possibly be a decade older than me, but she still had a youthful, fresh out of high school vibe. Amy showed me around the building and reintroduced me to Alexander, my new manager (mentioned in the previous post), everyone just calls him Alex. I was also introduced to Al, the Assistant Branch Manager. Al had a serious air about her, like she knew what she was doing (it wasn’t long before I realised she damn well does). Not long after Amy had finished showing me around, I saw one more woman arrive at the bank. It was Sonya, the woman who had helped me get a second chance at an interview when I was applying for the job. Sonya turned out to be the exact opposite of what I expected. She was young, pretty and tall with blonde hair. She too had a certain seriousness about her. I felt like maybe we should have had more to talk about, she was the first employee to speak to me after all. Even if it was just on Facebook. We merely said hello to each other however. Later that day she did help me order my uniform though. That was nice.

Before I could actually jump into anything, I had to complete a few short online assessments on a portal called ‘eAcademy.’ When I say a few, there was actually about thirty of these damn assessments! On the first day I was given Brittany’s office to use. I was yet to meet Brittany as it was her day off, she was the other Personal Banker at the branch. It was also a few days before I would be introduced to Annie, who only worked Mondays and Fridays. Lucky woman. I was quick to notice that the bank was mainly female dominated.

‘Us women run the bank, Alex just has to go along with it,’ Amy told me with a laugh. She wasn’t really kidding though. Over the next few weeks I began to see that the women really did run the bank. Alex wasn’t exactly a ‘hands on’ manager; he tended to avoid certain tasks (including training myself), often delegating them to Al or Sonya. During my first few weeks at the bank, the toilet couldn’t flush because there was no water, I remember Al calling Alex (he was at another branch that day) and asking what we should do since the contractor couldn’t fix it that day. Alex said ‘use the bathroom across the street, I don’t know what you expect me to do.’  ‘How about giving us some direction!’ Said Al, calling him a fucking dickhead as she hung up. I may have giggled, but that was the kind of manager Alex was, the women had it over him and could easily get away with insulting him. I kind of liked it. Mostly, Al was the person who truly held everything together. She made sure everything ran smoothly and still found the time to teach me most of what I know now. I have always had the deepest respect for that woman.

Anyway, I spent the first week and part of the next working on those online assessment tasks. Taking regular breaks from staring at the screen and trying not to full asleep multiple times… I was glad to be done with them! Next, Brittany taught me how to count BEDs (business express deposits) and process them through our teller transactions system (Spider). Brittany was loud, funny and easy going. She really knew how to liven up the workplace. She wasn’t the only person who knew how to be loud though; Al also had a loud, clear voice and loved to laugh. There were a few Huddles (team meetings) where those two would struggle to speak over the top of each other. For a reasonably quiet girl like myself, it was quite a sight.

It was only the end of the second week when I began to serve customers. The whole idea of it scared the crap out of me. I always made it look like I was happy and confident, but deep down I was stressing out. Not because I was afraid of the customer, but because I didn’t want to get stuck because I still had so much to learn about the computer system. Whenever a customer would come in, I would sometimes try and stall in the hopes that someone else would serve them. I would count my blessings when I had to count a BED or do something else rather than serve. I knew this was something I needed to overcome. One thing that really shocked me was the ratio of rude and grumpy customers to happy and polite ones. I was slowly given a darker take on humanity and life. I couldn’t believe how many times I was stuck serving someone who had no manners, or no patience. Mostly it was older people. Younger people were always more likely to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘no, that’s fine’ when I’d make a small stuff up. They’re only little things, but the little things matter when you work in customer service.

I was ‘warned’ about Annie the day before I met her. I was told by Amy ‘she’s been working as a teller for over twelve years and you will still learn more than she ever has.’ Sonya and Al also added, ‘we always balance without any problems when it’s just us two on the counter, but when Annie’s here there’s always something that stuffs up.’ ‘Balancing’ if you don’t already know, is basically when the tellers add up the total of cash at the bank and try to balance it with the amount of cash that should be there according to the system. If we don’t balance, it’s usually because someone has counted the cash wrong or given/taken too much money from a customer or even processed a transaction wrong and then the tellers are stuck trying to find the problem until they can balance. So yeah, balancing = must. The funny thing is, after meeting and getting to know Annie, she quickly became one of my favourite work colleagues. She’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, she has the loudest laugh you can imagine and she’s just so easy to talk to.

Starting out though, there were a few times that I became frustrated because Annie didn’t know how to do something. One day, Al and Sonya were off work and so Annie and I had to work on the counter and balance at the end of the day by ourselves. I hadn’t fully learnt how to fill in the spread sheets and the balancing sheet properly and when I asked Annie how to do it, she gave me a confused look and said ‘I’m not sure…’ That was irritating. The next day I was lectured by Al and Sonya because Annie and I had screwed up the spread sheets. I apologised and made sure I learnt how to do everything properly for next time. Honestly though, I was so mad that everyone had expected me to ace something I had never done before, something they hadn’t taught me yet. I also couldn’t believe that after working in the bank for so long, Annie still barely had any clue what she was doing! It was a little strange that when she and I would be working the counter alone, I, the trainee, naturally took charge. Al and Sonya trusted me to get things right more than they trusted Annie. During my first few months at the bank, Annie was always used as an example of ‘what not to do.’ I began to wonder if she had any idea that the other women thought of her this way. Then one day when we were trying to solve a problem, she said ‘it was probably something I did, everyone always expects me to stuff things up.’ My heart ached a little for her.

To be continued…



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