For Love or Money

A Las Vegas escort agency owner says he’s getting about forty applications every day, the majority from women running from the wreckage of lost finance jobs.  Boston Herald.

It was late as I headed out the door onto Federal Street, the carotid artery that carries the blood to the brain of Boston’s financial district.  I turned my collar up against the wind and started to walk at a brisk pace.  I had just one block to go to the train station that would carry me home to an idyllic winter scene; at last count, one wife, two kids, two cats.

“You looking for a little action?” a voice called out of the darkness beneath the overhang at 175 Federal Street, the place where I began my career 41 years, five months, sixteen days, ten hours and fifteen minutes ago.  Not that I’m counting or anything.

I looked into the shadows and thought I saw Meg Viera, former Assistant Vice President at National Indian Head National Bank.

“I can give you what you need–nightly cash sweeps into repos, a personalized leatherette check book.”

“Meg?” I asked tentatively.

“Hi,” she replied sheepishly.  Her Talbots cloth winter coat looked out of place above her red leather hot pants.

” . . . and I come with unlimited free checking.”

“What are you doing?”

“I’m just using the targeted marketing techniques I learned in my bank training program to push a different kind of–product.”

I was stunned.  “What happened?”

She bit her lower lip in shame.  I could tell she was upset, despite the brittle carapace she had put on in her new profession, the world’s oldest.

“Corporate cash management isn’t a big revenue-generator for most regional money-center banks,” she said bitterly.  “You ought to see the crappy promotional items they give us to bring in clients.”

“Like what?”

“Plastic rain hats, key chains.”  She hesitated for a moment–I could see she was fighting back tears.  “Desk calendars.”

“So no corporate luxury boxes anymore, huh?”

“In a pig’s ass,” she snapped bitterly.  In her short time on the street, she had apparently lost all inhibitions against the sort of petty vulgarity that could ruin a business lunch.

I looked at her, and she looked back at me.  “Well, I guess I could buy a little something.”

“I can give you regular service, or I’m having a special on a ‘Round-the-World’–$75.”

“What does that include?”

“Overdraft protection, a home equity line and digital belly-button stimulation.”

I could feel the first stirrings of excitement in my wallet.  “Don’t you need to see my W-2 to get a mortgage loan approved?”

” . . . there’s no minimum balance, either.”

She snorted, almost involuntarily.  “This must be your first time with a woman who was an assistant vice president.”

I blushed deeply, as her crack hit close to home.  “It’s kind of a sore subject at our house.”  Back in my wife’s day, they didn’t hand out promotions at banks like penny candy on Halloween.

“Okay,” I said after she had thus challenged my manhood.  “Let’s do it.”

I started to move towards the ATM, but she grabbed my arm to stop me.  “Not so fast, Buster.  I need to see the cash first.”

“B-but,” I stuttered.  “You just said I’d get a line of credit as part of the deal.”

A hard-bitten look crossed her face.  “Sure, why not.  I pay you to screw me.”

“That’s how credit works,” I replied, on the defensive.  “Without it, our economy would grind to a halt.”

“Well, one sector of the economy is going to grind to a halt right now unless you can pay me in immediately available funds,” she said with a note of urgency in her voice as she scanned the streets for the vice squad.

“Well, uh, what kind of deposit products do you offer?”

She calmed down a little bit once she realized I was ready to deal.  “We have demand deposit accounts–basic checking–passbook savings, and my favorite”–her eyes got misty as she recalled happier holiday seasons from her past–“the Christmas Club Account.”

Now it was my turn to play the cynic.  “You must think I just fell off a turnip truck,” I said angrily.

“What–I . . .”

“Everybody knows that Christmas Clubs are a raw deal for consumers.  They pay low interest rates and have high fees.  They’re for suckers–chumps–not sophisticated comparison shoppers of financial services.”

She looked chagrined, as any financial services professional caught trying to sell an unsuitable product should have.

“I–I’m sorry,” she said.  “It’s just that–well, I’m desperate.”

She burst into tears, and I put my arm around her and gave her a hug.  “Please don’t cry,” I said.  I took a tissue out of my pocket and dabbed her eyes.

“Thanks,” she said.  Her heavy mascara ran down her cheeks, making her look like a raccoon, or a defensive lineman with too much eye black on.

“I can tell you how to bring in male deposit business, if that’s what you want.”

“Sure,” she sniffed.

“You need to get rid of the promotional toaster ovens and picnic baskets, and switch to the ten-piece socket wrench set!”

Available in print and Kindle format on as part of the collection “Everyday Noir.”

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