Sat, 29 Oct 1994

Bank teller serves clients with smile

By T. Sima Gunawan

JAKARTA (JP): She spends a great deal of her time counting other people's money.

No wonder she does. She is a bank teller.

"In the beginning I was nervous. I was afraid I might not count the money correctly," Meli, 26, said.

Now that she has been in her job at Bank International Indonesia (BII) for over four years, she is used to it and "Thank God I have never made a mistake when counting the money."

Her prior experience as a cashier at the Golden Truly Department Store was an advantage which helped her in dealing with money, even though working in a bank requires more skill and forte.

Meli graduated from high school in 1988, and had been working for the department store for two years when she overheard a conversation her friends were having at work about job vacancies at BII.

"What happened was that a customer told my friend that BII needed tellers and then she (my friend) told this to my other friend. Overhearing this, I asked them to repeat the news so I sent in my application," Meli said.

Eight months went by before she received an answer from the bank. They invited her to take a series of test, including a psychological test. Because she knew nothing about banking she worried about failing, even though she has taken courses in computer, accounting and secretarial works.

Her heart somersaulted with joy when she knew she was accepted. She started working for BII the day after being told she had passed.

When asked what she did with her first month's salary, she said lightly "I had to treat my cousins, with whom I live, and my friends."

It is an "unwritten law" that as the new employee she had to treat her colleagues when she received her first month's salary.

Meli's parents live in Tanjung Karang, South Sumatra. In Jakarta she lives with her aunt and her family in Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta.

"It's good that I don't have to rent a room. It means I can save some money every month," she said.

Being a bank teller Meli meets different kinds of people, including those who demand instant service no matter how busy she is.

Armed with a smile, she tells impatient customers, in a soft voice, to be patient and join the queue.

Handling such people is not a problem for Meli.

"Be very, very kind to them and they will feel ashamed. Never be rude," she said.

Most of the bank's client, however, are pleasant and friendly.


Tetty, a customer service officer of the bank, said that there are some customers who occasionally bring in cakes or other goodies for everyone in the office.

"I don't know why. They are just nice people. I don't think there is something behind the gifts. They have nothing to do with loan approvals or such like...," she said.

What Meli likes best about her job is meeting people, because she enjoys interacting with people. However, there are times when she gets bored doing the same thing again and again, day in, day out.

"I don't see any challenges in my job. It's monotonous. I know exactly what I will be doing tomorrow," she complained.

However, Meli understands that there are always good things and bad things about any job. More important, she is fully aware that there are many more job seekers than there are job opportunities.

What about bank robberies? Does she worry about such things?

Instead of showing anxiety, Meli laughed when asked whether she was afraid an armed robber might point a gun at her head.

"What? Oh, I've never thought about that."

Tetty said she did not worry about violence in the office, either, given that security guards were always around.

If she, or one of the other bank employees, needs to take money from other BII offices or the central Bank Indonesia, they can ask for an armed police officer to come with them, said Tetty.

"If we are robbed, what else can we do but give up the money? I won't play the hero while my life is in jeopardy...," she said.

"But I hope nothing bad will happen to us."(sim)