A woman of modest means is made to feel like a million bucks by a heavenly teller.
Banks have never been friendly places in my view. What did an institution built around money care about someone like me, who was struggling to make ends meet? That September day I went in to deposit my meager check, I got in line feeling insignificant.
It wasn’t just the bank. So many things lately had conspired to make me feel unimportant. I’d struggled for months to find a steady job with no luck. I lived in constant fear of losing my house to foreclosure.
Even the weather seemed to be trying to tell me how little I mattered. In August we’d experienced a 6.0 earthquake, the likes of which the State of Virginia hadn’t seen for over a century.
One week later Hurricane Irene came to town, followed by a tropical storm that flooded the streets and knocked out power. The forces outside me were stronger than I was. Much stronger.
I moved ahead in line, one customer closer to the teller. How could I hope to stand up against all the forces in the world and in my life?
I knew the answer, of course. No matter what fierce forces there were in the world, God was stronger still. If I relied on him there was no storm, no bad economy, no hardship I couldn’t weather. But how can God really have time for me? I thought as I reached the head of the line.
How could a being so powerful he watched over the whole world, also watch over me? The Bible promised that he did. But I couldn’t even get the bank to see me as a person instead of an account number. How was it possible that God had time to care for me in more than just a general sense?
The light above the far window flashed and I stepped up. I laid my deposit slip on the counter. “Sign the back of the check, please,” the teller said.
I’d never seen this particular man at the bank before. He was an older gentleman, tall and skinny, a little odd-looking with his round glasses. Like a character out of a Dickens novel!
I slid my check and deposit slip over the counter. The teller busied himself stamping forms and entering figures on his computer. Then he turned back to me with a wide grin.
“Ms. Swenson,” he said. “You are our most valuable customer.”
Is he trying to be funny? I thought. “How can I be your most valuable customer?” I said, somewhat annoyed. “I’m depositing a small check. I’m hardly important, much less ‘most valuable.’”
The bank teller’s big smile turned sad. He leaned closer over the counter. “You are valuable, Ms. Swenson,” he said. There wasn’t a trace of humor in his voice. I’d never heard anyone sound more sincere. “You’re valuable because of who you are.”
He handed me the receipt for my deposit. I folded it up and stepped away from the window. “Thank you,” I said. “I really appreciate that.”
“Have a good day, Ms. Swenson,” he said. His big smile was back.
I walked away from the window, taken aback by this strange conversation. A great feeling started to bloom inside me, a feeling of worth. My bank account was still as small as ever, but suddenly I felt like a millionaire in my soul! Just because of who I was!
I walked out of the bank with my head held high. At the door I paused to talk to the manager. “You have a great teller working here,” I said. “He really made my day.”
“Who?” the manager asked.
I pointed to the far window, the one where I’d just been standing. It was empty. He must have stepped away, I thought. “It was the older gentleman,” I said. “The one with the glasses.”
The manager frowned. “There’s no one like that here.”
“Sure there is,” I said. “Here’s my receipt.” He looked it over.
“This is valid,” he said. “But all the tellers working today are women.”
I looked at the empty window. The funny-looking man wasn’t there. Was I the only one who’d ever seen him? “Thank you,” I told the manager.
I stepped out onto the street, still feeling like a millionaire. Insignificant? Not me. God had sent an angel to make sure I knew it.