At my bank the other day, I noticed the countertop namecard for my teller included the following bonus information: where she was born (city and country, which in this case happened not to be the U.S.); how many years she’s worked for the bank; how long she’s been married; the ages of her kids; and her favorite food.

I was flabbergasted. So flabbergasted I’m using the word flabbergasted which I rarely do because I can never remember if there’s an “h,” as in flabberghastly idea, which this surely is.

Why on earth, in these security-conscious times, would an employer encourage the sharing of such personal — and irrelevant — information? My teller was friendly, helpful and competent. That’s plenty. Knowing she likes Gummy Bears doesn’t enhance my “banking experience.”

Are these Get to Know Us campaigns everywhere? When I accompanied my husband for a CT scan (he’s fine, thanks), I noticed info bits about doctors posted in the reception area, along with their headshots. To be clear, given the context, I’m talking about photos of doctors’ heads.

Undoubtedly, marketing consultants are behind this bogus bonhomie: Let’s see, what would make patients feel all positive about a clinic visit? Got it! Knowing the doctor skis and collects Hummels.

Now I’m fairly relentless when it comes to checking out my doctors. I insist on knowing where they went to med school, where they completed residencies and whether they’re board certified. In other words, info possibly relevant to their ability to keep me alive. Whether they write haiku or dance the flamenco or write haiku while dancing the flamenco — don’t care so much.

Yes, banking and healthcare interactions are inherently stressful, relating as they do to our fear of 3D — Death, Deductibles and Destitution. But the buddy-buddy stuff doesn’t help. Really, it doesn’t. You want to impress me? Save me money. Communicate with me in language I understand instead of Bankerese and Medicalish. You, bank, lose the disclosures in 2-point fonts.

As for my concerns about protecting the bank teller’s privacy, a lawyer friend suggested a nefarious take of the kind that comes naturally as breathing to attorneys. “Maybe,” he mused, “it’s not her real name and information.”

Okaaay, this had not occurred to me. “You mean, uh, like the customer service guy in the TV commercial? The one who talks in a deep voice with a Russian accent but insists his name is Peggy?”


The conversation left me stranded, as I often am lately, at the intersection of Paranoia Street and Consternation Avenue. At least he didn’t hand me “10 Fun Facts About Lawsuits.”