I was halfway to the door at Chase Bank when the teller called me back to the counter. Sir! Sir!
I returned. Yes?
Would you like some candy or gum?
We bank at Chase and one other big name bank. Both banks have waged a "niceness" campaign since 2009, but today was like nothing I've ever experienced.
There's this one teller at Chase who has always been something of an exception to the corporate-style friendliness. She's always done her job by the book, but she's done it rather cheerlessly and extra scrupulously.
When I deposit checks, I always request a receipt with the account balance. And no matter how many times I dealt with Ms. Scrupulous over the years, I had to produce an ID, even though I never withdraw cash. Once, she wouldn't give me the balance because the bar code renewal sticker on the back of my driver's license was visibly fading. Okay, she's protecting my account and protecting my privacy. That's not a bad thing in today's no-privacy world.
But today was different. She spontaneously engaged me in cheerful chitchat about the weather, about the seasons, about where she's from and what she likes to do in the warm weather. When I extended my hand with my ID and asked for a receipt with the balance, she happily informed me that she didn't need to see it because she knows me. After four or five years of not knowing me, she knows me. Then, when we were done with our business and I was halfway to the door, she called out to offer me the candy or gum.
Last Friday, they had a huge platter of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies on one of the customer counters. The other bank does stuff like that once in awhile, but I've never seen that at this bank.
Any one of a number of possibilities might account for the change in the teller's behavior, and the cookies may be entirely unrelated, but I think Chase Bank is having a panic attack.