You may remember John. The friendly bank manager. Well today I want to introduce Mike. There were 2 Mikes in the office. One became one of my closest pals for many years. The other didn’t. This is about the one who didn’t.
Mike R. was a decent man but the problem was the role he had – Administration Manager. This was the lowest graded managerial position in the bank. Mike was no spring chicken but he was probably younger than I am today. He may have had another job left in him, maybe not. So for the foreseeable future Mike ran the ship.
Why was the admin man so important? Well, in the 1970s banking and personal privacy were very different. As employees we were treated like small children. For a start it was forbidden to have a bank account at any bank other than the one that employed us. If a male employee wanted to get married under the age of 25 he needed permission. Need a mortgage? Well the bank decided whether the house you wanted to buy was ‘suitable’. You were not allowed to be ‘over-housed’ at the bank’s expense. Co-habit with a partner? No mortgage allowed. Mike was part of the approval chain for any applications.
Need a cheque book? Ask Mike. Under 18? Mike would consider whether you were mature enough to have one. One young lady, whose name was Christine, joined us at the age of about 16. She was a beautiful young woman and, dare I say, not the sharpest knife in the drawer. She was a cashier and therefore an ambassador for the bank. In the full glare of public scrutiny. She was a good cashier and the customers loved her. As did most of the men in the branch. She could not however manage her money and she occasionally did the unthinkable. She overdrew her account. This was strictly forbidden for staff and a disciplinary offence. So Mike had to sort the problem out. In the end he took her cheque book away. I am not sure whose heart was the heavier. After that if Christine wanted to issue a cheque she would go to Mike, he would consider whether the purpose was appropriate, whether she could afford it and then and only then if all tests were passed would he give her a cheque.
Each month we were paid on the 18th and we would receive a bank statement. Well that is not quite true. Mike would receive our statements. He would go through them and examine our in-goings and out-goings. All credits to your account should have been approved. The bank wanted to know where the money came from. He would make sure there were no missing cheques in the run. If there were then you would have to account for them and produce the cancelled or torn up items.
He also dished out the pay slips. My first annual salary was £4069 or £339.08 per month. I don’t recall a bonus.
Mike also kept all the personnel files so woe betide you if you transgressed. He and I had a healthy respect for one another. He was smart enough to know that I was a “special animal”, a graduate trainee and it was his job to make sure I did well in my basic training. I knew he would have a say in when I escaped the treadmill to go and do a real job. I am not sure who breathed the deeper sigh of relief when I was moved after barely 12 months, on to the Chief Manager’s Office in the big city of Portsmouth.
I am sure Mike is long since retired. I hope he is enjoying it. He must be in his 70s now. It was a different era. He was ideal for the times but it does feel strange that people tolerated the prevailing level of intrusion into their personal life. I did consider asking Mrs. Ha for veto rights on her cheque issuance but as she uses plastic I don’t think it would help. Ah yes….. credit cards were also a no-no for younger staff in the 70s. I do believe I had one but of one thing you can be sure, Christine did not. Mike would have seen to that.