David Rabbitborough's A to Z of Australian Species

THE BANK MANAGER

At various locations around Australian cities are small menageries where shy spotted creatures are kept behind bars. These are called banks. Deep in the interior of each one can be found, couched in its den, the leader of the colony - the Bank Manager - slowly ruminating over the annual figures.

Bank Managers have been traditionally depicted as carnivores who eat young tellers for breakfast, but in fact disciplinary actions seldom go further than a light mauling. The bank managers' role in the bank is basically organisational. It is they who are responsible for seeing that tellers take lunch breaks when the maximum number of customers is in the bank, that people are kept waiting at the inquiry counter for as long as possible and that the minimum time for a phone call to another branch is thirty minutes. But it is in the face to face situation that the Bank Manager truly comes into its own.

A bank exists by inducing human beings to hand over their money in exchange for a small amount of interest. The bank then lends the same money to others for a larger amount of interest, and keeps the difference. It's very simple trick and yet a remarkable number of humans fall for it every day. The only thing that could go wrong with the scam is if the depositors wanted to borrow their money back and this is where the Bank Manager comes in.

In order for customers to have the privilege of borrowing their own money they have to confront the Manager face to face. By the end of an interview with this surly, unpredictable creature, they will feel lucky to have escaped with their lives let alone a 12 per cent interest rate.

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