I have a friend who hates banks with a special passion. "A bank is just a store like a candy store or a grocery store, " he says. "The only difference is that a bank' s goods happen to be money, which is yours in the first place. If banks were required to sell wallets and money belts, they might act less like churches."
I began thinking about my friend the other day as I walked into a small, overlighted branch office on the West Side. I had come to open a checking account.
It was lunchtime and the only officer on duty was a fortyish black man with short, pressed hair, a pencil mustache, and a neatly pressed brown suit. Everything about him suggested a carefully dressed authority.
This officer was standing across a small counter from a young white boy who was wearing a V-necked sweater, khakis, and loafers, He had sandy hair, and I think I was especially aware of him because he looked more like a kid from a prep school than a customer in a West Side bank.