01 July, 2011

Money changers

My mother always claimed that I could get into line at the bank and know everyone in line's life story before I got to the teller. Today that personality trait made me $140 and a bottle of Margaret River (Australian) wine.

I was "in line" at the bank getting some money out to put a down payment on a new van. The line at my bank involves checking in at a computer. The computer spits out a number and then they call the number. This way you get queued up for the teller that can best help you.

While I waited for my number to be called, I noticed a lady who looked to be lost. I asked if I could help. She was looking for the money changing counter. There is a sign outside of the bank that advertises the exchange rates and she was looking for where to change her money. As we were looking thorough the options on the computer screen a bank employee helped direct her to the dedicated money changing counter. Problem solved.

Then my number got called and I was at the window next to the lady. I overheard her complain about the rate that the bank offered her on AMERICAN DOLLARS. It turn out that they charge a commission and a changing fee on top of the advertised rate.

"Ma'am," I said. "I have American dollars that I can trade for you at the market rate." We sat down in the bank lobby and exchanged information.  I called Erika to find out how much American currency we had and called the lady on her cell to see if that would suit her needs.

She drove up to our house at dinner time and we made an exchange of AU$1,400 for US$1,500 (which is the going market rate within a dollar). She drove all the way up to us AND brought us a bottle of wine as a "welcome to Australia" present.

She saved about $140 in exchange fees and so did I. The bank lost out on $280 total.

As for her life story, she is going to visit her daughter in New York City next week and is a mortgage broker. We will call her in a year when our lease is up, perhaps.

You are never alone if you are not afraid to talk to strangers. And you are never without friends if you are not afraid to be kind to strangers.

And the wine was good. :)

For you bible thumpers out there: Link

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