I began my banking career as a trainee teller. One night when I closed my books I was $20 short. As I rechecked my work I found that I had overpaid a customer.
Armed with the withdrawal ticket showing my error on its back I went to see my customer. He was a rabbi, a tall man with a long white beard, a handsome and kind face as only Michelangelo could have painted it in the Sistine Chapel.
I explained to the rabbi what had happened and showed him the withdrawal ticket with the error on its back.
The rabbi told me that he had not counted the money yet, but had put it in his bible, which he brought out. Then he counted the money and found an extra $20 bill, which he gave back to me.
The incident was not of great importance, but I never forgot the rabbi.
While I was on duty as a commercial teller, a lady handed to me, along with her deposit, a metal cylinder that she said held 50 dimes.
When I counted the dimes out of the cylinder, there were only 48.
The lady insisted that the cylinder could not be opened unless there were 50 dimes, and said she could not see what I had done behind the counter – insinuating that I was trying to steal two of her dimes.
I called the manager, who invited the lady to his desk a few feet away. He brought with him the cylinder, which he refilled with the dimes.
Then, the manager emptied the cylinder – supposedly unopenable unless it contained 50 dimes – and counted the coins on his desk: Forty-eight!
"Madam," the manager told her, "now you will close your account and get out."
As a vice president and lending officer, I sat on the platform, where I could see my customers coming into the bank. I waved at them, and, sometimes, I would even get up and go meet them. One of my customers was a nun, whose hand I would kiss rather than just shake.
No one else would ordinarily show her so much respect. The nun's face lit up with modest but obvious gratification while all the eyes around turned on her.
Another customer was an attorney of national renown. When I saw him standing in line, I jumped up and went over to meet him.
"Please come to my desk. I must speak you," I told him.
Once at my desk, I scolded him, facetiously of course. "The bank cannot afford your fees for the time you stand in line. I'll take your deposit."
The Safe Deposit Box
This story was told to me by a safe deposit department custodian of a bank where I worked as an auditor.
A lady hired a private detective to investigate her husband, whom she suspected of having an affair.
The detective reported that the man went directly from home to the office, and from office back home. The only time that the man left the office was to go to the bank, once a week, with his secretary, and right back to the office.
In the bank the couple went to the safe deposit department, where the man would withdraw a large safe deposit box and retire into a tiny room. Nothing suspicious; the room was there for safe deposit customers to view the contents of their boxes in private.
But one day, the custodian opened the door to the small room, thinking it had been vacated. And what he saw … well!
Apparently the large safe deposit box was not intended to hold documents, but a blanket and a small pillow.
The custodian called the manager, who told the man to relinquish the box immediately. To which the man, unfazed, replied he would take his business to another bank.
Over his 50-year career in banking, Ugo Nardi worked his way up from a teller to an auditor, lending officer, state bank examiner, and a bank president. He retired in 2000.