Next Memory

Working Relationships

by Norman Worwood


Obviously, some branches were happier work places than others, since where people work as a team and depend on each other for accuracy and speed, there can be frictions if just one person has shortcomings, especially if that person is the manager. John ('Jock') Hastie, a Scot originally from Edinburgh TSB, was an affable fellow to work with and socially, but at the branch where I was the senior cashier, we found that our ideas about running the branch were diametrically opposed. In fact, things got so serious at one time that I telephoned Head Office to inform them that I would be disobeying some of his instructions to me, as I considered them offensive to customers.

On another noteworthy occasion, an elderly gentleman withdrew some cash from his account and went to a cubicle to count it, only to return to me saying that the cash was £5 short. Errors in cash-handling were always a possibility and it was customary in such circumstances to ask neighbouring cashiers to 'man' the counter whilst the 'offending' cashier conducted an interim cash balance. I did so --- but my cash was correct. I informed the gentleman that my cash balanced and that he must be mistaken. He was furious and neither of us would give way. He became purple, I became white, with rage. Enter Jock Hastie, who only made matters worse, until he decided to telephone Head Office. He was told that I must give the man £5 and show a 'cash shortage' at the day's end. I refused, saying that if that was what Head Office thought of my cash-handling capability, I would thenceforward not bother to count and balance my cash each day, but would simply assume it to be correct. Poor Jock! this was quite outside his managerial experience, but he gave Head Office my ultimatum, and was told that he himself must give the man £5 and show a 'cash shortage' --- in the Branch Reserve Cash under his control! This, of course, was highly unusual, possibly unique, and I awaited the consequences. Nothing happened -- until next day. Shortly after the branch opened for business, the same man walked in, came to my till, and presented me with a £5 note and his apology. It appears that he had put it aside in his wallet for a particular purpose and had forgotten he had done so. I went to the public side of the counter, shook his hand warmly and accepted his apology, telling him that it was not only out of gratitude on behalf of the Bank, but out of sheer personal admiration for his courage in admitting his mistake. Few people would have behaved thus. We became great friends thereafter. But Jock? He was totally bemused by the whole episode.