Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Vault

 My summer job in 1974 was working at Bankers Trust in Columbia.  I had worked there during the summer of 1972 in the parking lot, but I got upgraded to an inside job in the vault, which was located in the basement of the bank..  My official title was "Assistant Vault Comptroller", but that just meant that I had to watch the vault when the Comptroller was away.  My duties were pretty mundane.  I rolled the coins with a machine that kept breaking down.  Twice a day, we had to balance the vault with the money inside.  Also, I had to open the vault for those folks needing to look at their safety deposit boxes, or those from the Trust Department needing to look at some stock certificates.  I also had to take money up to the tellers, or remove money from their drawers, if it got too much.  My last duty was to change the film in the cameras that watched the bank lobby.
 One thing about the vault was that there was no AC, and it got stuffy down there, so I took advantage of any opportunity to go upstairs and get some fresh air.  Another thing about the vault was that there was a lot of down time, so I read books and listened to a cassette player they allowed me to bring.  I was able to keep any weird coins I found like foreign money, as long as I replaced them with good coins.
 A cool thing about the work was that I got two hours off for lunch, because the bank was closed between 1 and 3.  There was a movie theatre nearby, and I would go to see the movies during lunch.  Most of the time, I would get in during the middle of the picture, so I would have to wait until the next showing to see the beginning of the movie to figure out what was going on. 
 I spent the first two weeks there trying to figure out how to rob the bank and get away with it.  Since the vault was audited twice a day, that meant that it would have to be done quickly.  I figured that 10 men with shotguns could do it, but then they would have to rush to the airport and get a flight out of the country.  Since Columbia didn't have any international flights, that would make it more difficult.  I gave up on that idea.
 Another job I had was to carry large checks from one bank to another.  The checks couldn't be cashed by just anybody, as most of them were State checks, but I often times would walk down the street with millions of dollars in my pocket, and no one knew.  I also became insensitive to money.  I once was walking down the street, when I saw $10 on the sidewalk.  I walked over it.  A guy next to me picked it up and asked why I didn't.  I told him that it wasn't my money.  That philosophy worked well later for me, when I worked in retail.
 As one of my jobs was changing the film, I had to do it in the dark in a closet.  This was before videotape, so the film was 8mm film, which could not be exposed to light.  I had a hard time doing this, so I would crack the door just a little to see.  By doing this, I exposed the film and ruined it.  I'm glad we weren't robbed during my tenure there, because the film would not have been much use.
 Toward the end of the summer, we were moving our bank two blocks away to a larger building.  One of my duties was to prepare the files to move.  Wells Fargo came to take the files and stock certificates to the bank, and I was responsible for seeing they got to the truck.  It was only a few feet from the front door of the bank to the truck, but I had to make sure they got out okay.  Another joy I had was to haul a safe to the new bank.  The safe was only about 4 ft. tall, but it was made of steel and iron.  They gave me a hand truck to do this job.  When I got to the corner, I had to take a running start to be able to cross the street, and pray cars would stop.  Thankfully, they did.  It was very heavy.
 The offices were cleared out.  One man and I were charged with going through all of the offices and make sure everything had been taken.  We got to an office that had a phone still hooked up, so I decided to try a prank.  I had the phone number to The White House in Washington, and I called.  I told them that I was with Strom Thurmond's office in Columbia and wanted to get an appointment with the President (Ford).  I was transferred to several secretaries, until I got the Congressional Appointments secretary.  She asked me why Thurmond wanted an appointment with Ford, since the two of them were traveling that day together to Chicago.  I made up an excuse that the Columbia office can't coordinate Thurmond's schedule with his Washington office.  I didn't know that they were tracing the call.  I got scared and hung up.  A few mins. later, my co-worker came into the room I had been in, and the phone rang.  He picked it up and said, "This ain't Strom Thurmond's office.  This is a bank."  I was afraid I was going to get arrested, but I was thankful that was my last day working for the bank.  I never talked to the Secret Service about that.  I hope the statute of limitations has run out on prank calls to The White House.

No comments:

Post a Comment