Familiarity With the Dollars Does Not Breed Contempt of Fear
Morley J. EdwardsJanuary11914
How It Feels to Carry Money
Familiarity With the Dollars Does Not Breed Contempt of Fear
Morley J. Edwards
WHAT WOULD you feel like in a crowd or in a lonely spot with ten thousand dollars in actual cash in your pockets?
“Mighty happy,” most of us would be tempted to answer at first thought. “We’d like to have the chance at it."
But would you? In these days of the almost-universal use of the many varieties of negotiable paper few of us are likely to have the experience. One or two incidents, however, led the writer to make rather comprehensive inquiries of a number of people whose occupation necessitates placing themselves quite frequently,—willingly or otherwise, ns the case may be,—in the position outlined above. The result is given herewith.
Several weeks ago, for instance, a capable business-looking young woman whose turn at the paying-teller's window of a city bank same just before mine, received in exchange for her cheque a dozen or more fat, rubber-banded rolls of bills and in addition a half-dozen envelopes which presumably contained silver. I was naturally interested, and since 1 couldn’t got near the wicket till she counted those rolls of hills, felt that it wasn’t transgressing any of the laws of ethics or good manners to watch her.
The first roll was composed of tens. She counted them crisply and rapidly, and evidently finding the requisite hundred, snapped the rubber band around it again and dropped it carelessly into a rather large leather shopping bag which lay open on the counter before her. Two rolls of fives followed, then four or five rolls of twos, two of which were counted twice, and the counting ended on perhaps half a dozen rolls of ones. The envelopes of silver were tossed without being opened in on top of the bills and the bag snapped shut, while the girl, innately conscious, perhaps, that I had been watching her rather closely, darted one of those sharp, looking-vou-over glances at me from a pair of attractive brown eyes, as if to say: “What business is it of yours how much money I carry,” as she turned to leave the counter.
With incidentally-awakened interest in her financial operations, not unnaturally my eyes followed her as she left the bank. She carried that innocent-looking bag, not hanging from her arm, as she would probably have done had it contained a new pair of gloves and a yard or two of lace, but held closely under her arm, which was also passed through the loop of the handle. As I continued to follow her through the open doorway, I saw her glance sharply to left and then to right before she started to cross the street. I noticed, too, that her face had taken on a somewhat strained expression.
This world of our* i» an mtcusvly interesting place, Perhaps the element* that moet contribute to thie are the varying human aetiviti«*, the exciting causes of which are uot always manifest on the surface. The larger world that exists where ramd* roam free of matter, ha* a great deal to do with the activities of human beings.
The sensations of fear, pleasure or pain are common to all, and the resulting evidences of these on individuals draws our interested attention to our neighbors. This sketch is the result of such an inquiry iuto tho everyday effect of responsibility and fear working out in various human lives. After all men act much alike the world over.—Editor.
“Why, yes,” said the teller with a smile, in answer to my friendly query as to the young woman's identity.
“She’s the confidential clerk of M-
Company (mentioning the name of a
widely-known industrial eoneern). They pay all their wages, from the heads down, in cnah. She’s in here regularly about this time every Friday and draws from thirty-five hundred to four thousand.“ And on further queation : “Yes, we have several others who carry money out in about the same way, some more, some lest. This is the only woman I know, though, who handles such a large amount of cash.
A few days later, following the newspaper man’s instinct for a “story” and by means of some kindly introductions, the writer had the opportunity of a few minutes’ conversation with the young
woman who does the MCompany's
“Well.” she said, laughing a little, when queried as to her sensations when acting as cash-carrier, “I’ve been doing that work for four years and ought to Ire getting used to it by this time, but frankly, that quarter of an hour between here and the hank on Fridays is one I dread all week. Thousands of times, 1 guess, I’ve reasoned out how there’s no danger of anything happening. and yet the bare fact of having that sum of money with me seems to bring on a nervous tension that in spite of me I can’t get out from under. Hundreds of times I’ve fancied people were following me and had hard work to keep from
running, even on St. Cstreet,” (a
thoroughfare always busy at ordinary hours), “but never yet have I actually had any experience that I could even suspect of being an attempt at trouble. I’m afraid I’m rather unsociable on these days,” she went on, “For I don’t like to have even my girl friends walk with me. The feeling of fear gets me so hard that 1 believe I‘d even avoid our preacher, if he happened along.
“I’ve thought a good many times,” she continued, after further questioning, “of asking the firm to get someone else to carry that cash or to get me a strong man for an escort, but I don’t like to. They trust me so fully I hate to show any dislike for what seems such a simple thing, and I guess I’d be even a little suspicions in an involuntary wav, of almost any man in the place, if he knew what I was carrying in that bag.”
“I remember you in the bank,” she went on again, with another laugh, “and at the time I wondered why you watched me so closely. That day I looked back two or three times to see if by any chance you were after me. That’s a sample of the way the strain of the thing comes on one.”
Through another bank was located a young man who does the banking for a large printing and publishing house which also pays its wages in cash week-
ly. He was somewhat reticent regarding the matter when first approached but became more freely communicative as the idea went home.
“You’ll likely be surprised,” his characterization of experiences ran,” when I tell yon that I never go out and in the same door twice when I carry that grip full of dough. One week I go out the front door and come in the back and vice versa the next time. I don’t think it ’s fear,” he went on. “If I was afraid I’d carry a revolver, which I don’t do. But from the moment I leave the bank till I get the cash into the vault yonder, I have a feeling of strain, and I notice that my eyes are mighty alert for any possible source of danger. I’m not particularly stuck on the job but someone has to do it, I suppose, and since it only comes once a week I make the best of it. ”
This messenger carries his firm’s cash in a small grip similar to a physician’s kit bag. On oeing questioned as to how he carried it, he had to stop to think for a moment and then said: “Oh. it goes up under my arm, and I tell you I keep a mighty close grip on it too.”
“You read stories.” he went on, as an afterthonght, “telling how somebody with a coat or a grip full of money accidentally lays them down and goes off without them. The chaps that write those yarns never carried much money” —a very likely statement, by the way. “You don’t by long odds forget that kind of stuff you’ve got with you under such circumstances. I could no more forget my grip when it has our wages’ cash in it, than I would forget to go to lunch, or to quit at night.”
One would suppose that the express messengers who are day after day held responsible for parcels of specie would become case-hardened, as it were, so that the presence of cash in their care would not bother them to any degree, but such is not the case under actual working conditions. Most of them, indeed, when questioned casually, would under a bold front make light of the responsibility and laugh about it, but if one were to see them alone under actual working conditions their attitude would probably be found to be much different.
A question bearing on the subject of this article was put to one of them, a rough-looking chap bv the way. a little time ago.
“You're away off the road,” he said, “if you think looking after a little cash works on us. I lock the stuff in the safe and don’t think about it again till I have to deliver it. All these stories about express robberies to-day are guff.”
This was accompanied by an air of bravado which aroused some suspicion and led to further questioning. More light on the case was given by a mail clerk in the other section of the same car, an older and more dependable-looking man.
“Is that so,” he began, with a curious grin, when told of the expressman’s story. “George's actions don't bear out his talk. One day a couple of weeks at'o we had a big shipment of coin aboard. I knew it without being told for he was strung up like n new man on hi«
first run and I could see the outline of his ‘gun’ in his pocket. He swung back his doors and looked up and down the track and around, too, at every stop. He told me that night he was darned glad to have the stuff off his hands.”
This testimony, coming from an independent source, seems rather more to be relied upon than the statements of the messenger himself.
A fairly successful drover, who every week makes large shipments of stock into one of our Canadian cities, added still further evidence.
“You’re right,” he said, when questioned as to carrying large amounts of money. “The farmers seem to like to see straight cash for their cattle better than checks and I’ve made it a rule to kow tow to ’em in this. So when I drive round every couple of weeks I usually have a good-sized roll with me, sometimes up to three or four thousand. I used to try to brave it out and fight down any quakes but pretty soon I found I felt a good deal better with a revolver in my hip pocket. The last few years I’ve had one of the boys drive round with me every time I carried that big roll.
“A good many times I’ve been delayed somewhere and had to come in at nights,” the big drover went on, at the suggestion of further questions. “And then’s the time it did bother me. You know how you hear and see things in the bush at night t Once when I was pretty well strung up, a young farmer whose voice I knew almost as well as my wife ’s, called out from the dark at the side of the road, wanting a ride into town, and I was so flustered I pulled my gun and shot into the swamp. For a conple of minutes it was hard to know who was most scared.”
An appreciation of the old adage that “familiarity breeds contempt” would seem to apply to the banks’ employees who handle money continuously, but inquiry does not by any means hear ont the application.
“About as good an illustration of what yon speak about as I can think
of,” said a manager who has climbed well to the top rung of the ladder, ‘ ‘ pops up in connection with my early days in charge of a country branch in a small town in Eastern Ontario. My predecessor there had made arrangements to carry the cash for wages to a mine two or three miles out, every week. It was a rough spot with a lot of loose characters floating around, and one of the juniors had been attacked a year or so before. When the end of the first week came round what do you suppose I had to facet Not one of my staff of three would carry that grip of cash. Two flatly refused, and the other begged so hard that I hated to send him. Finally I settled the matter by going myself, but the funk in those fellows got into me and I remember yet what a time I had to get over that two-mile drive. After that I sent two men until on an exchange I got a plucky chap who was so anxious to make good he volunteered to make the trip himself. He did too—for three or four months—till the once-a-week strain practically broke him down nervously and he quit the bank for good.
“Rather an amusing thing, bearing a good deal on your questions, occurred at another out-of-town branch,” volunteered the same manager.11 There, as you probably know is usual in towns and villages, two of my juniors slept over the hank. One night both these boys wanted to be away in an adjacent town to a party, and they persuaded the youngest lad, who had just come on the staff a few months before, and lived at home, to occupy their rooms for the night. The lad stayed up reading till about two o ’clock, but finally got sleepy in spite of his nervousness and undressed and piled into bed. An hour later he half wakened from a nervous dream and in his semi-conscious condition and in the dim light from the arc lamp on the opposite corner thought he saw a hand on the bottom of the bed. Jerking the 'gun’ from where he had carefully placed it (Continued on page 98.)
How It Feels to Carry Money
(Continued from page 18)
under his pillow he fired point-blank at the supposed burglar. He wakened up then with a vengeance, for when in considerable pain he got a light on he found he’d shot off the best part of one of his toes.”
But the bank messengers. Surely they don’t feel these peculiar sensations? Let’s talk to one and see.
“Yes, I’ve carried a good many millions in my day, I guess,” said one trusted servant of one of the largest city banks, “and while I’ve never yet had any real trouble, I wouldn’t like to say but that I always feel a little anxious when I take charge of any considerable sum. Of course with us,” he went on, “conditions are rather different from some of those you’ve spoken of. No bank man carries much stuff alone. There are always at least two of us together, more, if the amount is specially large, and we always carry guns. Even then I always keep :^y eyes pretty well open and have no trouble to remember that it’s the unexpected that usually happens. Once or twice I’ve thought something was going to turn up but found out afterwards it was only suspicion generated by nervousness.”
With this evidence presented from various sources even yet there may be doubters. To this class we can only suggest that if you think these witnesses lacked “nerve” try it yourself and see. Draw your full balance some day—if it isn’t big enough borrow a thousand or two from a friend—and walk down a crowded city street or drive on a lonesome country road with the cash “on” you, and try to preserve an interior and exterior unconcern. Ninety-nine to a hundred the first friend you meet will ask you what’s the matter, “you look so anxious.” And in spite of yourself you ’ll want to break away from him and find another bank as soon as possible'.
Try it and see.
It Made a Difference
A member of Parliament told this good story recently in a by-election address :
“The man is as ingenious as a horsetrader’s son who was once unexpectedly called upon by his father to mount a. horse and exhibit its paces.
“As he mounted he leaned toward his father and said:
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