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Getting Rolled

(US Bank, Clayton)

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A group of women emerges from one of the little offices. One is indignant, oblivious to her friends who try to calm her down.

"Take your money and get out," she says to a customer waiting to see a banker. "Get out of here before they take all your money."

It doesn't end there. Now she's admonishing a woman who's already meeting with a banker. But this other woman has complaints of her own. She's arguing with her banker, a frumpy man who seems unimpressed. Eventually he gets up and goes into an office where other bankers are palavering. You can see them through the plate-glass window, laughing.

None of the customers are happy. Everybody's getting fucked: overdraft fees, service charges, an avalanche of unexpected expenses that send you right into the gutter. I'm getting fucked too. Nothing to be done about it. Occasionally the bankers get up and go into the office and share a laugh.

Later I tell this story to James.

"Maybe it's time to become a European," James says. James and I share the same absurd escapist belief: that expatriating would somehow ensure relief from these problems.

"Or maybe South America," I say. "It's less expensive there."

"In some places," James allows. Then he points out, "It's easier to get rolled there, though."

"You can go there and get rolled by outlaws or stay here and get rolled by your bank."

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