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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Norma Who?

My melee at the fabric store was not the first time I have noticed that some employee has their hand on the phone and is ready to call the police to take me away. I was nearly taken away in handcuffs at the bank.

This was a while back. The bank was cutting down on tellers in an attempt to push people into using ATM's for as much banking as possible. That way the bank can keep all the fees and not use the money to pay employees. I believe they call that 'downsizing'.

It up sized the lines at the bank. The lines at the bank were more than 40 minutes long on any given day. I'd have a black mark on my soul if I was lying. I became the "Norma Rae" of the bank line.

In ever escalating protest, I riled up the folks in the big long line. Mind you, they were already in a foul mood. First it was the bank woman who would walk up and down the line and ask people if they knew they "could use the ATM" for whatever they were doing at the bank. I asked her if SHE knew that she was working really hard at ending her own job. I imagine that she figured she wasn't ending her own job, but the jobs of the people behind the bullet proof glass, which somehow in her mind made it all okay.

Then I found out that if you wait more than ten minutes the bank had a policy that said you would get $5. I made sure everyone in the line asked for their $5. I don't think the policy is still....a policy...any more.

On one occassion, while having my turn at the teller's window, I innocently asked the girl what the 800 number was should I need to call the bank and I wrote it down in very big letters. The minute she finished telling me the number I whirled around to face the huge line, holding the number over my head. "This is the number you call to complain!" I told them all. Everyone whipped out a pen.

Sally Field, stand aside for Sister Mary Martha.

And then one day....

The line stretched all the way across the inside of the bank. We were lined up in those rope things, as though this were Disneyland. Each minute the line got longer as more people arrived.

Now picture this. The tellers stretch across the front of the bank, so the last teller is really near the door. (Don't worry...bulletproof glass....) The end of the line is in front of the last teller. But when you are at the front of the line, meaning, you'll be next, you are clear on the other side of the bank, corraled by the ropes until the next avaiable teller beckons.

So I was at the end of the line, in front of the last teller. A terrifically old man came in. He could barely walk, let alone stand. He crawled over to the last teller, kind of hanging on the counter for support. He had just arrived in front of her when she called the next customer from across the bank. This customer was a young man, fully able bodied, not more than 30.

The teller was saying to the old man, "You'll have to wait while I take this man..." I sprang across the ropes.

Okay, I didn't spring. It feels like springing to me. I'm just lucky I didn't yank my veil off on the ropes.

I ran up to the window, inserting myself between the young man and the old man. I said to the teller, "Oh no....you have to take this man next." She politely told me she would as soon as she took the young man. "No, I said to her, " this man can barely stand here let alone wait. And this man is perfectly capable of waiting." I was using both of them as a visual aid. We teachers love our visual aids. I actually said to her, "Look at this man (Mr. Rude Pants) and look at this man (Grandpa Falling to Pieces)."

It turned very ugly from there. Shocklingly the young man did not step aside. I asked the teller why they bothered to have handicapped parking spaces outside if this was how they were going to treat people. I told the young man he should be ashamed of himself. I wasn't quiet at all while making these statements. The old man was thanking me.

To no avail. She made the old man wait!!!! I'm sure this is whyso many people are so taken with the idea of karma, because we would like to think of that young man someday hanging on a counter hoping to get help and hoping he doesn't collapse or faint and no one even trying to help or defend him.

But we are asked to forgive instead. oops.

So I went back into the line. Thirty minutes later when I finally arrived at a teller window the bank manager strolled up behind my teller...a totally different teller at that....and said to me, "I didn't appreciate the way you spoke to my teller." (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

"Really?," I said. "Well, I didn't appreciate the way she treated that poor old man!" I restated my argument, and since he the manager was talking over me, I got louder and louder. Somewhere in there he said, "I'm the manager....." and I said, "Well, you're a very terrible manager! Just look at this place!" At this point the line actually stretched out the door, so once again, I had a wonderful visual aid. And the people in the line were very happy to be part of the visual aid, and began to relish their role as 'angry mob'.

That's when I noticed he was headed for the phone. I had a vision of myself in hand cuffs, the large hand of a police officer on the top of my head, protecting me from bumping my head on the squad car as they loaded me in. You know how they do that, we all see police shows. So I left the bank.

I did get a written apology from the bank a few weeks later, after I had called and written to complain myself.

It was shortly after that that more tellers were added and the lines ended. Last year the bank even opened a second branch in the neighborhood.

But the donnybrook at the fabric store.....I think I may be banned for life from there...


KatDee said...

This post makes me think of two things:

First, appropos of nothing, the word "donnybrook" to describe a mass free-for-all has always struck me as funny. Donnybrook is a neighborhood in Dublin, Ireland (where I lived for a few years). Many years ago, it was the site of a fair notorious for attracting a bad element. These days, Donnybrook is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Dublin (and that's saying something). It would be as strange as if we were to start calling them "Park Avenues" or "Beverly Hills".

Second, every nun I've ever known (and I've known a few) has been a righteous rabble-rouser of the first order. When I compare this to my image of medieval nuns serving in quiet obedience and contemplation, it makes me think how things have changed. Maybe it's because of Vatican II; I don't know. But I think the fact that all the nuns I know have been elementary school teachers is somehow significant.

Tim said...

You activist, you.

dutch said...

Swing out sistah!

Tracy said...

I love you, Sister Mary Martha! Please don't ever leave us! *sniff* Reading that post brought a tear to my eye. Brava!

I swear, if some poor, little old man/lady came tottering into my work one day, you'd better believe he'd get first priority. As I work at a community college, this is unlikely to ever happen. Shame on those tellers, though, and especially that "manager"! Not to mention that unbelievably rude young man. Urgh.

seeking_something said...

I'd say your action is typical of teachers.

I agree that both the young man and the teller were inconsiderate, and the manager was was coward to not have intervened one way or the other (his comment indicated that he witnessed the event yet did nothing).

Sister Mary Martha said...

I thank you for your encouragement.

Kiwi Nomad said...

I changed banks a few years back when I got sick of the queues, especially when they tried to tell me one day I needed an appointment to even 'order' traveller's cheques. Then they wrote an appalling letter in response to my written complaint. The day I went in to close all my accounts they were asking "why?" and I just pointed to the queue building up behind me as they struggled to find things like my final Visa balance as they never had enough senior staff working......

Kiwi Nomad said...

BTW are you for real? Or is this a blog I can just enjoy for its sheer humour? (Maybe it doesn't actually matter if you are a real nun or not! - you are very funny!!!)

dutch said...

This blog IS real. Someday our sistah mary martha will be a STAR.

She already shines bright for me....

Anonymous said...

Here's something for you
all to know..

where in the bible does it say its ok to pray to mary?


check this out..

Question: "Is prayer to saints / Mary Biblical?"

Answer: The issue of Catholics praying to saints is one that is full of confusion. It is the official position of the Roman Catholic Church that Catholics do not pray TO saints or Mary, but rather that Catholics can ask saints or Mary to pray FOR them. The official position of the Roman Catholic Church is that asking saints for their prayers is no different than asking someone here on earth to pray for you. However, the practice of many Catholics diverges from official Roman Catholic teaching. Many Catholics do in fact pray directly to saints and/or Mary, asking them for help – instead of asking the saints and/or Mary to intercede with God for help. Whatever the case, whether a saint or Mary is being prayed to, or asked to pray, neither practice has any Biblical basis.

The Bible nowhere instructs believers in Christ to pray to anyone other than God. The Bible nowhere encourages, or even mentions, believers asking individuals in Heaven for their prayers. Why, then, do many Catholic pray to Mary and/or the saints, or request their prayers? Catholics view Mary and saints as "intercessors" before God. They believe that a saint, who is glorified in Heaven, has more "direct access" to God than we do. Therefore, if a saint delivers a prayer to God, it is more effective than us praying to God directly. This concept is blatantly unbiblical. Hebrews 4:16 tells us that we, believers here on earth, can "...approach the throne of grace with confidence..."

1 Timothy 2:5 declares, "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." There is no one else that can mediate with God for us. If Jesus is the ONLY mediator, that indicates Mary and saints cannot be mediators. They cannot mediate our prayer requests to God. Further, the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ Himself is interceding for us before the Father, "Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them" (Hebrews 7:25). With Jesus Himself interceding for us, why would we need Mary or the saints to intercede for us? Who would God listen to more closely than His Son? Romans 8:26-27 describes the Holy Spirit interceding for us. With the 2nd and 3rd members of the Trinity already interceding for us before the Father in Heaven, what possible need could there be to have Mary or the saints interceding for us?

You can only go to
heaven in faith through christ.
If you read the bible you will understand.

I am a young boy writing this
and i hope to save someone.

My love in christ.

Praying to someone else
is an idol!

God desereves all of the respect!

The Ol' Abbot said...

Some rabble just need to be roused, & you're just the lady for the job!

Silver Parnell said...

I just found your blog and am delighted to read this witty story about the rabblerousing at the bank.

It sounds JUST like something I would do (and have done, in some form or another)...the kind of thing that profoundly embarrasses my good friend, a fellow ex-Hindu nun.

I left the Hindu convent to become a Catholic (and hopefully a Catholic nun) but it didn't work out (the nun part.) I used to think it was 'meant to be' because i was too much of a rabblerouser. Now i see it was probably some other egregious fault.

i am an instant fan of Sister Mary Martha.