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Lesson Four


The Boy and the Bank Officer Philip Ross

Pre-class Work I

Read the text once for the main idea. Do not refer to the notes, dictionaries or the glossary yet.

I have a friend who hates banks with a special passion. "A bank is just a store like a candy store or a grocery store", he says . "The only difference is that a bank's goods happen to be money, which is yours in the first place. If banks were required to sell wallets and money belts, they might act less like churches."
I began thinking about my friend the other day as I walked into a small, over lighted branch office on the West Side. I had come to open a checking account.
It was lunchtime and the only officer on duty was a fortyish black man with short, pressed hair, a pencil mustache, and a neatly pressed brown suit. Everything about him suggested a carefully dressed authority.
This officer was standing across a small counter from a young white boy who was wearing a V-necked sweater, khakis, and loafers. He had sandy hair, and I think I was especially aware of him because he looked more like a kid from a prep school than a customer in a West Side bank.
The boy continued to hold my attention because of what happened next.
He was holding an open savings-account book and wearing an expression of open dismay. "But I don't understand," he was saying to the officer. "I opened the account myself, so why can't I withdraw any money?"
"I've already explained to you," the officer told him, "that a fourteen-year-old is not allowed to withdraw money without a letter from his parents."
"But that doesn't seem fair," the boy said, his voice breaking. "It's my money, I put it in. It's my account."
"I know it is," the officer said, "but those are the rules. Now if you'll excuse me."
He turned to me with a smile. "May I help you, sir?"
I didn't think twice. "I was going to open a new account," I said, "but after seeing what's going on here, I think I've changed my mind."
"Excuse me?" he said.
"Look," I said. "If I understand what's going on here correctly, what you're saying is that this boy is old enough to deposit his money in your bank but he's not old enough to withdraw it. And since there doesn't seem to be any question as to whether it's his money or his account, the bank's so-called policy is clearly ridiculous."
"It may seem ridiculous to you," he replied in a voice rising slightly in irritation, "but that is the bank's policy and I have no other choice but to follow the rules".
The boy had stood hopefully next to me during this exchange, but now I was just as helpless. Suddenly I noticed that the open savings book he continued to grasp showed a balance of about $100. It also showed that there had been a series of small deposits and withdrawals.
I had my opening.
"Have you withdrawn money before by yourself?" I asked the boy.
"Yes," he said.
I moved in for the kill.
"How do you explain that?" I zeroed in on the officer. "Why did you let him withdraw money before, but not now?"
He looked annoyed. "Because the tellers were not aware of his age before and now they are. It's really very simple".
I turned to the boy with a shrug. "You're really getting cheated," I said. "You ought to get your parents to come in here and protest."
The boy looked destroyed. Silently, he put his savings book in a rear-pocket and walked out of the bank.
The officer turned to me. "You know," he said, "you really shouldn't have interfered."
"Shouldn't have interfered?" I shouted. "Well, it damn well seemed to me that he needed someone to represent his interests."
"Someone was representing his interests," he said softly.
"And who might that be?"
"The bank."
I couldn't believe what this idiot was saying. "Look," I concluded, "we're just wasting each other's time. But maybe you'd like to explain exactly how the bank was representing that boy's interests?"
"Certainly," he said. "We were informed this morning that some neighborhood bully has been shaking this boy down for more than a month. The other guy was forcing him to take money out every week and hand it over. The poor kid was apparently too scared to tell anyone. That's the real reason he was so upset. He was afraid of what the other guy would do to him. Anyway, the police are on the case and they'll probably make an arrest today."
"You mean there is no rule about being too young to withdraw money from a savings account?"
"Not that I ever heard of. Now, sir, what can we do for you?"

Read the text a second time. Learn the new words and expressions listed below.


a series of

n. a sum of money kept in a bank 银行账户; an ~ book: 存折; a checking ~ : (美)活期存款;支票账户

n. a choice

adv. to suggest a statement is true or relevant in spite of other things that have been said

adv. as it appears

n. a person whose knowledge or information is respected 权威

n. 通常作“平衡”解;Here: the amount of money one has in a bank account

n. a strip of leather, cloth, etc. that you tie round your waist; money ~ : 挎在腰间的钱包

branch office
n. smaller bank offices located throughout the community for the customer's convenience(银行的)分行;支行

n. a person who bullies
v. to pick on someone less powerful in a cruel manner

n. a sweet

v. 下结论;Here: to come to the end

adv. used for emphasis in spoken English; ~ well: certainly

v. to put (money) in a bank
n. money put in a bank

n. a strong feeling of fear, worry or sadness that is caused by sth. unpleasant and unexpected

n. 交换;Here: (formal) a brief conversation, usually an angry one

adj. about 40

n. (常用复数)money in one's possession 资金(此处指银行存款、现款)

n. a shop that sells all kinds of food and things for the home 食品和日用杂货

adj. unable to react normally to a situation because you have no power or strength

n. a foolish person

v. to deliberately(故意地)get involved in a situation that does not concern you and in a way that annoys people 干涉

n. (常用复数)卡叽布裤子

n. leather shoes one can slip on easily 平底便鞋

n. hair growing on the upper lip

n. all the various homes and businesses in a small area within a larger town or city 邻里

n. strong feeling of hate, anger or love

prep school
n. (in the U. S.) preparatory school 预备学校

v. to say or do sth. publicly to show that you disagree or are angry about sth. that you think is wrong or unfair 抗议

adj. the back part of sth. ; ~ pocket: 裤子后面的口袋

v. to act officially for another person 代表

adj. very silly, foolish and unreasonable

n. (常用复数)存款;a ~ s account: (银行)储蓄账户;定期存款

adj. frightened 受惊吓的

n. 耸肩(表示冷淡,怀疑等)

adv. a little bit

adj. 所谓的

adj. worried and unhappy

n. pouch (a small bag) that holds one's money 男用钱袋

n. the act of taking out/ away

v. to take away; Here: to take money away from a bank


My Bank Account Stephen Leacock

When I go into a bank I get frightened. The clerks frighten me; the desks frighten me; the sight of the money frightens me; everything frightens me. The moment I pass through the doors of a bank and attempt to do business there, I become an irresponsible fool.
I knew this before, but my salary had been raised to fifty dollars a month and I felt that the bank was the only place for it.
So I walked unsteadily in and looked round at the clerks with fear. I had an idea that a person who was about to open an account must necessarily consult the manager.
I went up to a place marked "Accountant." The accountant was a tall, cool devil. The very sight of him frightened me. My voice sounded as if it came from the grave.
"Can I see the manager?" I said, and added solemnly, "alone." I don't know why I said "alone."
"Certainly," said the accountant, and brought him.
The manager was a calm, serious man. I held my fifty-six dollars, pressed together in a ball, in my pocket.
"Are you the manager?" I said. God knows I didn't doubt it.
"Yes," he said.
"Can I see you," I asked, "alone?" I didn't want to say "alone" again, but without this word the question seemed useless.
The manager looked at me with some anxiety. He felt that I had a terrible secret to tell.
"Come in here," he said, and led the way to a private room. He turned the key in the lock.
"We are safe from interruption here," he said. "Sit down."
We both sat down and looked at each other. I found no voice to speak.
"You are one of Pinkerton's detectives, I suppose," he said.
My mysterious manner had made him think that I was a detective. I knew what he was thinking, and it made me worse.
"No, not from Pinkerton's," I said, seeming to mean that I was from a rival agency.
"To tell the truth," I went on, as if someone had urged me to tell lies about it, "I am not a detective at all. I have come to open an account. I intend to keep all my money in this bank."
The manager looked relieved but still serious; he felt sure now that I was a very rich man, perhaps a son of Baron Roth's child.
"A large account, I suppose," he said.
"Fairly large," I whispered. "I intend to place in this bank the sum of fifty-six dollars now and fifty dollars a month regularly."
The manager got up and opened the door. He called to the accountant.
"Mr. Montgomery," he said, unkindly loud, "this gentleman is opening an account. He will place fifty-six dollars in it. Good morning."
I stood up.
A big iron door stood open at the side of the room.
"Good morning," I said, and walked into the safe.
"Come out," said the manager coldly, and showed me the other way.
I went up to the accountant's window and pushed the ball of money at him with a quick, sudden movement as if I were doing a sort of trick.
My face was terribly pale.
"Here," I said, "put it in my account." The sound of my voice seemed to mean, "Let us do this painful thing while we feel that we want to do it."
He took the money and gave it to another clerk.
He made me write the sum on a bit of paper and sign my name in a book. I no longer knew what I was doing. The bank seemed to swim before my eyes.
"Is it in the account?" I asked in a hollow, shaking voice.
"It is," said the accountant.
"Then I want to draw a cheque."
My idea was to draw out six dollars of it for present use. Someone gave me a chequebook and someone else seemed to think that I was a man who owned millions of dollars, but was not feeling very well. I wrote something on the cheque and pushed it towards the clerk. He looked at it.
"What! Are you drawing it all out again?" he asked in surprise. Then I realized that I had written fifty-six dollars instead of six. I was too upset to reason now. I had a feeling that it was impossible to explain the thing. All the clerks had stopped writing to look at me.
Bold and careless in my misery, I made a decision.
"Yes, the whole thing."
"You wish to draw your money out of the bank?"
"Every cent of it."
"Are you not going to put any more in the account?" said the clerk, astonished.
A foolish hope came to me that they might think something had insulted me while I was writing the cheque and that I had changed my mind. I made a miserable attempt to look like a man with a fearfully quick temper.
The clerk prepared to pay the money.
"How will you have it?" he said.
"How will you have it?"
"Oh" —I understood his meaning and answered without even trying to think—"in fifty-dollar notes."
He gave me a fifty-dollar note.
"And the six?" he asked coldly.
"In six dollar notes," I said.
He gave me six dollars and I rushed out.
As the big door swung behind me I heard the sound of a roar of laughter that went up to the roof of the bank. Since then I use a bank no more. I keep my money in my pocket and my savings in silver dollars in a sock.