Matthew walked into my office today looking a little skinnier than the last time I had seen him. We'd worked together on a couple things over the last 2 years but nothing major. He handed me his checkbook and said he wanted to close his account, and while I was at it, I should close his credit cards, too. That's not a common request, so I asked why. He paused long enough to lean forward and put his arms on my desk. Then he said, "They told me I have three weeks left, so I want to tie everything up now."
I probably blinked three or four times slowly, before I told him how sorry I was for him. He told me what cancer it was, but heaven help me, I can't remember it now. He tossed all the cards on the table and told me he would appreciate my help. Meanwhile, his long term girlfriend came into the center, and I could see her over his shoulder through my office windows looking a little frantic. I motioned to her, and she came in. During our conversation, she several times mentioned that maybe the treatments would work and maybe he shouldn't close everything and maybe and maybe, before he took her hand and looking at me said, "There's no coming back from this."
I took care of what he needed done, tried not to cry when the help desk representative asked why he wanted to close his cards, leaving it at "he's quite ill" and tried to make it as quick as possible. When you're measuring minutes, small talk and a casual pace seems like an unforgivable injustice. When he left, we all shook hands, and I wished them peace. He thanked me and said he was sorry that we wouldn't be working together again.
Not 15 minutes later, I was helping another older client who had come to remove his wife's name from their accounts, as she had recently died. He had brought his daughter to put her on the accounts, and although he was a tall man, he sat slumped beside her barely lifting his head to look at me. All his statements directed to the floor. In the middle of our conversation, my assistant manager needed to ask me a question. She had an irate customer who wanted what he wanted and was pitching a mini fit. I agreed with her decision and went back to my client. Mid-way through collecting a death certificate and trying to draw out answers from my client, I head a thud in the next office and immediately excused myself.
The irate customer in the next office was clearly trying to bully my assistant by emphatically banging his hand on her desk. I assessed the situation, asked him a couple questions and everything was exactly as she had explained to me. He didn't want to pay check cashing fees and was going to open and close an account every week in order to avoid them. I told him we wouldn't be doing that. He got louder and angrier and demanded things to go his way, not quite getting in my face. I reiterated this would not be happening and within another sentence or two, I told him he could leave or we'd call the cops. He threatened to call them himself, then quickly changed tactics and said he didn't want this to get out of hand and he just wanted to open the account. I asked him if he was going to close it next week ... did he want to shake my hand on his word? "I'm not shaking your hand," followed with something close to just open the fucking account. I said we were done and no account was going to be opened. I made sure he was out of her office and then went back into mine.
I profusely apologized to my client, the widower I had left behind, as the jackass knocked on the windows of my office on his way out. It seems as though it's a never ending whirlwind of emotions every day now.