I was always anxious about visiting banks. They seemed almost alien to me. Maybe I had a sort of phobia; God knows what it was but some lame fears can sometimes get you in trouble. The New World has everything that it promised. Everything that one can dream of. But not everyone can cope up with everything they are offered. I think I was a little bit too old fashioned in some of the ways of living even more old fashioned than my ancestors would have been.
It is ok to have some fears and insecurities. People always carry them deep in their minds. Some fear of losing someone. Some are afraid to lose their jobs. Many out there fear rejection. These things are quite natural and general but what I feared was at an abnormal level. But then, the more you run from it the more it yearns from you. I feared to go into banks. I had never set my foot in a bank. It was a place cut off from the real world from me I was almost 28 with a decent job. I was doing my job for more than two years and I didn’t even have an account because of my phobia. I requested my boss to pay my salary in cash and I was glad that he agreed without questioning my intentions behind this demand.
I knew that what I was doing was not healthy and right as it was hard to save any money in this way. There was nothing I could do so I placed a wooden locked box in my room to put my savings there. For an adult like me to do such silly stuff was literally nonsensical but there I was saving my money like a 5 year old using a piggy bank. I went on like this for two months but it resulted in nothing as I still couldn’t save enough. I just opened up the box whenever I wanted and took money from it. “I am going on a very wrong track… I will end up so badly like this” I said to myself when I opened the empty box for the last time.
I was very troubled and tensed because of my financial situation. I decided to face my fears so during my lunch break I walked towards the nearest bank to my office. Every step was getting heavier and slower. I was sweating in the snow; wet with my fear. My heartbeat was getting abnormally fast to abnormally slow and vice versa. As I was close to the bank, I went numb suddenly as the building stood in front of me like a giant monster. Its hundreds of windows were like the evil eyes that were waiting for me and its main door was the gateway to hell. I could literally see the teeth of the monster in the hinges of the bank’s door. I was more scared than Scooby-doo had even been. I started shivering and ran back to my office as fast as I could.
While running like a mad horse I got hit in with James at the office entrance. James was my colleague and a good friend. He was a Spaniard and I used to learn Spanish from him. Only he knew about my stressful situation. “Hey! Hold on! Are you okay?” he interrogated. “It is nothing exactly” I tried to avoid eye contact to save myself from the embarrassment. “What is all the hurry for? Look I know something is fishy tell me or out of my Spanish class”. He knew this threat would always work on me.
“What do I do James? I am in such a vulnerable state right now. I am unable to save any money and I went to the bank but couldn’t gather courage to enter that gateway to the alien world.” He laughed so hard holding his stomach that I felt it would just fly out of his mouth. Was it that funny or was I so stupid to tell him? I thought but I allowed him to laugh at me because I laughed at him almost all the time. I knew he was the only one who could help me or give me a suggestion at least. He suddenly stopped laughing and his mischievous smile turned into gravity. For once I thought that the bank monsters had taken his soul or hypnotized him. He stood up and just spinned my chair so fast that I felt dizzy when it stopped. He was in his superhero mode now.
“God has sent me to help you my friend and that is what I will do for you. The light of heaven will be upon you.” Before listening to this I thought I was the only dramatic one left in the world. “Stop being so over dramatic James you are no angel. Just give me some idea.” He promised me that he will help me overcome my phobia. “We will go to the bank tomorrow and I will be there so that you will feel comfortable.” He tried to convince me that it is just a place like our own office and I just had to talk to someone for what I need. This talking was the hardest part for me as I always thought that the financial people used some other distant language.
That night was so hard for me because I couldn’t sleep for a moment. I wrote more than hundred useless speeches on what to say when I will be in front of any representative. Then I made a list of what I am going to the bank for. Obviously I needed an account but with an account I also needed a credit card so that my money could be saved. It was like I was some sort of a warrior and the next morning is the battle day which I am going to fight. “I should call James to tell him that I needed a credit card as well.” It was too late so I just dropped the idea and decided to tell him in the morning.
It was planned that we will meet at the office gate by 10 am and then we would walk together to the bank. I couldn’t sleep all night and couldn’t wake up in time. I skipped my breakfast and rushed to the office in a not so decent look. James saw me with an unsure expression. “What have you done to yourself?” and then he started to laugh hysterically. Only then I realized that I didn’t even brush my hair and I had put my shirt backwards. I was already at the verge of madness and now I was thinking what worse can happen. But the worst was yet to come.
I went in to the office restroom and made myself look presentable. I came back where James was waiting for me and we started walking. The closer we were getting to the bank, the slower my pace became. I knew I will get confused and will possibly become a laughing stock and an embarrassment for James as well. I stopped. “I don’t think it is a good idea. I am happy with my money box.” “Oh! Come on now Bella, you are no more a kid. They will not eat you up.” His sudden stern voice got me a little off guard and I just followed as he said.
We were finally at the gate of the bank. I entered the building with lowered gaze and numb feet following James. “Look around Bella” As I turned my head upright I saw many people walking here and there, sitting in offices, behind desks, talking and consulting the customers. They were all in executive style and dresses and I felt that the century has upgraded while it was me who had witnessed this for the very first time. It was all new and strange and I didn’t even know what to do next. James sat in the waiting chamber and asked me to go to the front desk to gather information about the bank and its accounts.
My eyes grew bigger in amazement like a frog and I turned pale to hear that I had to do it all myself and James was just a source to let me in this horrifically mysterious place. I was so freaked out that I couldn’t even find the front desk which was right at the front. The manager of the bank was noticing me and my confusion. He came towards me after sometime. “You are in some confusion I guess; I am Mr. Harold the manager of this bank. You may come with me.” I felt a little relieved that help came walking to me by itself.
The atmosphere of the bank was already such that gave me an expression of some sorcery. There were so many silly questions in my mind which I refrained to ask. Where do they keep the money, how do they know which money belongs to whom, do they count all the money? The manager looked back at me while walking and I thought he could hear my stupid thoughts. He took me to his office. James also followed. As we sat and Mr. Harold asked what I wanted to do in the bank, I looked at James expecting him to tell the manager but he gestured me with his eyebrow to talk to him all by myself. “Actually Sir! I … I was thinking… No … I was planning, yes! I was planning to open an account.” Wow I did it. Now I was feeling relaxed and confident. But the manager seemed to be a little disappointed. Maybe he thought I was an investor by the way I was acting.
He took us outside and left us at the front desk. “You can help yourself with our staff right here”. I told the lady at the desk about what I needed and after some paper work my first ever bank account was created. I did nothing in this and James filled all the information. I was a little confident know and I finally asked the lady that I wanted a credit card as well. “For that my dear, you have to go through the application process. Fill the application form and show all your personal and financial documents.” I just gulped in a part of my breath and James looked at me in shock. “You never told me you needed a credit card as well. This was not the part of the plan. And now where are your documents if you knew you want one?” I never knew that applying for a credit card required all these things. I was cursing myself on not calling James at night. “I don’t have my documents. I didn’t know they were also required.”
The representative dealing with us was a nice lady in her 40s. She was listening to our conversation and after sometime she sneaked an application form from the glass window of her desk. “You can fill up the form with all your essentials while this boy with you can go to your house to fetch your documents.” James agreed and without listening to me took my house keys from me and rushed outside. I ran after him, got stumbled on someone’s shoe and fell down on the line of people who were waiting in the payment section. Three others fell down with me and it was such an embarrassment. Everyone was laughing at my clumsiness. I was left alone.
I came back to the desk and the lady told me to fill the form in time. The form had different sections about my personal and financial information. I had to fill my name, address, email, phone number, date of birth and my income, financial status and house owning or renting info. All of this is now clear in my mind but at that moment I thought it was all written in Hebrew or some other ancient language. I forgot everything about my existence. “Who am I? What is my name? Where do I belong?” I realized that all this confidence was because my friend was there with me and now I am the old me again.
The lady came out from her room to me. Her name was Mrs. Jonas. She patted me and said “When I was of your age I was afraid of dogs and you know it ended only when I got bit from one. If you are getting confused of all this then know this will only end when you let yourself loose.” She smiled at me and said “I am waiting for your application on my desk.” It really worked and I easily filled my form without any confusion or thought that I am alone here with no help. I completed it and submitted it to Mrs. Jonas. She gave me a proud look. After sometime James came and submitted my documents for verification. He couldn’t believe I applied for my credit card all by myself.
After the process was completed we came out of the building. It was such an adventurous and inspirational day for me. This was an achievement for me which called for a party. So me and James went to our favorite pizza café and ate a lot of pizza and cheese rolls. I was finally over my anxiety for banks and now I could easily save more money as well. James first teased me of telling this to everyone at the office but then promised to keep it our dark secret for the sake of friendship.
After a week after I applied for a credit card, I was approved for it and a week after that I got my first ever credit card through mail. I was super excited and super happy and showed it to James. He helped me in activating my card and now I have saved a lot of money.
The credit card application online has helped me to become eligible for a loan so that if I need a loan I can just show my bank statement and credit history to get approved. Now I visit the bank often especially to pay my bill to relinquish the old memory and also to make sure that I have came over my phobia completely. James also visits with me sometimes just to have a little fun chat with Mrs. Jonas. She tells her stories funnier than mine which makes me more confident that I am not the only one who has been through this. I have realized that fear is fear until you decide that it is not.