If You Aren’t Making Any Bad Loans…

Years ago, I worked at a bank. I didn’t like it very much. During my time in the Management Training Program there, you had to run through a bunch of different jobs, including Teller. I don’t know who the f goes to the teller anymore. I was lousy at that. There used to be something called a Certified Check, which was a personal check you’d write, then pay an added fee to have the bank ensure you had the money to cover the check. I would routinely certify checks without verifying the balance. Kind of like certifying “yep, this is a check alright.” I did this a number of times before one of the other tellers watched me ‘certify’ a check [put a special sticker on it and use one of those embossing tools like Notary Publics use] while skipping the most important step: making sure they had the money. Remarkably, I didn’t get fired. Which shows you how awful a job being a bank teller is. Anyway.

I “progressed” from there, to making personal loans. Again, you can pretty much do any bank business online now, but back then you talked to somebody about loans. While we were encouraged to make intelligent lending decisions, my handler, a guy named Thurston, said sometimes you have to make a riskier loan. His quote: “If you aren’t making any bad loans, you aren’t making enough loans..” Trust me, I made more than my share of bad loans, just as I had pumped out my share of unverified Certified Checks.

But the quote stuck with me, and I think of it when I write jokes. If I’m not making enough bad jokes, I’m not making enough jokes. I tell everyone that I don’t really know what people find funny any more. So sometimes I’ll write a joke, say to myself “this sucks”..but then tell it and people will laugh. And if I don’t hate myself or find it irredeemably hackneyed, I’ll keep on it and see what I can do. Sometimes a better joke in the same vein will come along to bolster the joke I thought was terrible.

Advice that I received doing something I hated years ago helps guide me when I’m doing something that I enjoy a great deal here & now. Huh.

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