Tuesday, July 26, 2011
The Lady in the Vault
I loved working at the bank during my earliest of Honeymoon Days. It was the first time as a young person to be in a community of women with a like minded purpose. A paycheck on Fridays. Conversations during our lunch hour revolved around the direct deposit time, layaway payments to be made, and Christmas Club deposits marked in little blue books provided by our employers.
Our lunch room was in the basement of the bank. Brown paper sacks lined the shelves of an ancient refrigerator, the crinkle of wax paper was the soothing background to our familiar routine. Sandwiches cut on the diagonal, an apple or an orange, a Tab or Fresca to quench our thirst.
Our lunch room was many floors underneath the lobby of the bank and could only be reached by the same elevator customers used to visit their safe deposit box in the bank's vault. Watching customers come and go during my lunch hour, my curiosity to see the vault for myself got the better of me.
A long hallway and several turns ended at two steps that led to small landing that could be seen through imposing black iron gates. A desk just like my own receptionist's desk was pushed into one corner where the most striking woman rose to greet me. Tall and slender, elegant in our navy blue bank uniform; she had jet black hair piled high above her head in a fashion I was too young to recall having ever seen before. A beehive. Her eyes were heavily lined with black mascara, her lips fire engine red to match her long finger nails, her voice asking if she could help me was familiar to someone with parents both from the South. It seems time had stood perfectly still in this place.
Visiting the lady in the vault became a part of my daily lunch routine. Homespun advice from another era was mesmerizing coming from someone who looked as she did. It seems her husband met her in the 1950's at a street race when she was only 15 and fell in love with her velvety black hair. He loved it to this day now 25 years married and three children nearly grown. Her husband was a very successful owner of several eye glass manufacturing companies.
I know now I would not be where I am today in life it were not for The Lady in the Vault. My daily visits to say hello led to an invitation to dinner for my husband and myself. In conversation about my husband's working for his relative's moving company and not being happy led to an offer of employment on the spot to manufacture eye glasses. The opportunity to leave the family business gave him the needed confidence to stand on his own and re-enlist in the military which was his true calling.
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