As long as the bank goes

Publish date 28-01-2023

by Mauro Tabasso

An old song by Orietta Berti that has become a classic went like this: «As long as the boat goes, let it go, as long as the boat goes, don't row…». Today we could paraphrase it more or less like this: «As long as the bank is going, let it go…».

Yes, because the branches close overnight, without notice, and if you are unable to carry out your transactions online, you are doomed. Let's not talk about contacting the branch manager, who used to be near the house, now if all goes well he's on the other side of the city, and is protected by the impenetrable curtain of a hidden call center where you have to dial 17 options and lose 20 minutes of your time before you have any hope of speaking to a human. But not the manager! You will speak to Hubert who replies from Bulgaria saying that for your problem you will have to call on Tuesdays from 06.00 to 06.30 in the weeks in which Monday falls odd, then the call center will pass you on again, you will listen to the evil rigmarole again just to choose another option.

Listen Call, Hubert or whatever your name is, I have an option for you, but I can't illustrate it in this newspaper; use your imagination. I have always been fascinated by technology, from a very young age. In my previous life (I had a completely different job), I was one of the first to own a cell phone. It was the size of a shoebox and on the lid was a telephone booth handset with a pig tail wire, it looked like a military field radio. Today all the technology we have is turning me (and you too) into different people than we thought we would become. I try not to ever forget it, and every time someone (unintentionally) calls me into question, I wonder whether it is appropriate to act as a call center and tell them to call me back on February 30th or cut a ticket to go to hell. But as a good, good (and always modest!) musician I try not to forget how important it is to listen and listen to the people who contact me when they feel the need to talk to me.

I try to imagine, behind every message, behind every email, behind every call or meeting, a person who really needs/pleasures to talk to me at that moment, because he thinks he can solve his problem. If I forget this, I become like the bank manager, a prospect that revolts me to say the least. It's right to defend yourself from the nuisances (the many and varied offers of a new electricity and gas contract, a new telephone line, a ticket for two to Toyland) but if I want to remain a person I must have regard for others, same regard I wish were given to me when I call the bank.
If I forget this, I become rage that walks, indifference that goes for a walk, apathy that goes to the gym, selfishness that jogs, sloth that does the shopping.

If we are beautiful inside, the autopsy will establish it, but if we are at peace with life, everyone sees it. Never fall into the temptation to become your own call center. We need to talk, to make ourselves listened to, welcomed, understood, finally loved by other people, not by machines, which however smart they are, will never be able to love us, but only make us long for the old white-haired, bespectacled accountant who, with a phone call, gave you the your bank statement.

Mauro Tabasso
NP November 2022

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