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The Wrong Line

The Wrong Line

I’m waiting in line at the bank. There’s only one person in line ahead of me, and four tellers.


One teller is occupied by a man who is a small business owner doing a transaction, and claiming he did not get enough money back. A second teller is called over to review the situation, while the first one just watches. A third teller puts the “next window, please” sign up while she tends to the obscure paperwork that persists in a computerized world of electronic banking. That leaves the fourth teller, who is taking care of someone who is in training to run with the glaciers.

I say to the person ahead of me: “Down to one teller.”

Her: “Well, I’m not in a hurry, and it’s good to just relax. They’ll get to us when they can.”

Me: “That’s a nice, peaceful attitude, except if you are in a hurry, since some people have schedules.”

Her: “You have to expect these things.”

Me: “You have to expect two tellers to tend to one person and another to close her window while there are people in line?” (More people have now formed a queue behind me.)

Her: “I’m sure there is a good reason for it. You can’t always be efficient.”

Me: “There is every reason to be efficient whenever you can with customers in line who could take their business down the street to three other banks. Isn’t this about customer service?”

Her: “I’ve spent 20 years in retail, and I know that things just happen and the customer has to wait until you’re done.”

Me: “If that’s your attitude, I’m glad you didn’t work 20 years for me in a store that I owned!”

Her: “You can’t understand these transactions unless you’ve been in the position. I’m well versed in retail from the inside, and I know the priorities.”

Me: “Did I mention I’m a consultant? I believe I outrank you.”

© Alan Weiss 2009. All rights reserved.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

Comments: 4

  • Gretchen

    October 15, 2009

    Isn’t it interesting how the guy who complains gets to have 3 tellers at his service. It always pays to complain. If you are a complacent person you don’t get anybody to go the extra mile for you.

  • Steven Levy

    October 15, 2009

    Consultant? You’re a customer. To me, that outranks the consultant and the clueless retailer.

  • Bill Conerly

    October 18, 2009

    I’m still trying to process why someone I think highly of would be standing in line at a bank.

  • Alan Weiss

    October 18, 2009

    Because occasionally I get lucky and someone pays me so that I can afford gas, and I have to make the deposit. I never make deposits at an ATM (which has its own lines and no relationship factor).

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