What can you tell me about modern technology?

Chaplin was locked out of the country and lived in Switzerland for years because the folks in power didn’t like what he had to say about modern times.

So it is with one eye watching my back that I tell you that today, I am going to drive to a bank in town to get a number I need to complete my late brother’s income tax for 2021. Let’s use my initials and call it “the RKS Bank.” I’m 86, and my lungs are shot from living with a woodstove, so even walking to the mailbox is a great effort. When I go in there today, I’m going to have to sit down for a few minutes to catch my breath before I can approach the teller’s window.

Twenty or 30 years ago, I could have called my friends at the RKS Bank and asked for the numbers. Before that, in the early ’70s, the loan officer in one branch office was a good friend. I often had business dealings with his wife, and his son was one of my pet students. I was always stopping by to get $3,000 on my signature. Or to pay it back. A mighty sum back then.

I knew employees in two or three branches well and they knew me. Back then, they knew all of their old customers who had paid their wages for years and years.

But now, when you call the number on the RKS Bank’s website for your local branch, after several tries you get the main office in the metropolis. And you are usually unable to be connected. One time I explained my connection problem to the operator, and she suggested that it might be easier for me to simply show up there in person. So here’s one member of the staff, obviously also at the mercy of an inoperative system, who does understand the problem and is able to offer a practical solution.


You try again and again, however, and finally push “1” to leave a callback number. And after two days, no one has called back.

True. Some lonely old people might call a bank, ostensibly to get information, but really just to interact with another human voice, and then drone on for five minutes. Banking personnel are not the only people who get these tedious calls. We all get them, and we dread them.

I don’t want to do it, but today I’m going to drive to the closest branch, where I will visit my friends who work there and get a number so I can complete my brother’s income tax for 2021.

I say “my friends” at the local RKS Bank. They are all new people, so I don’t know them. But I knew both grandfathers of the woman who helped me in there the other day. So I knew well who she was and could have told her stories had I not placed a dollar value on her time.

It was so much easier 30 or 40 years ago when you could simply call the person you wanted to talk with. In two minutes, one more chore was out of the way. You didn’t make more work for folks at the bank by cluttering up their lobby, and you didn’t waste half a day getting togged up and driving to town.

I always had a good relationship with the RKS Bank. So I was surprised that when I posted this observation on Facebook, the first comment to turn up below it was “RKS Bank sucks.”


I’d have to assume that this person was talking about the RKS Bank’s state-of-the-art technology and not the nice people who work there.

I don’t know how employees of any bank of business should handle the lonely souls who call because they simply want to talk. But the system RKS Bank now uses penalizes us all and certainly hurts their bottom line. The way my brother Jim handled it is not an option, but it may work for you in the privacy of your own home.

Jim had a good friend who would call and talk for an hour without stopping. Jim quickly learned to put the phone down and continue with his household chores. Half an hour later, when he’d pick it up and cough, his friend would still be talking. It earned my brother a reputation for being a good listener.

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:

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