Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Banker's Hours

I was a weird teenager.

In high school, I used to love to get up well before dawn, make the family pot of coffee, and head out for a walk. My favorite time of year was right about now -- mid-October, when the air was cool and the mornings dark.

Being up before anyone else was cool. I liked the solitude of the pre-dawn, the lack of hurry. And in some ways, I enjoyed observing the morning stretches of town -- the Perkin's waitstaff arriving at work, lights flicking on in various houses I passed, the whiz of a bicycle out delivering morning papers.

I don't have much to say about all that, except that I think having that early, early morning experience made me very aware of how strange it would be to have your existance be the opposite of 80% (or larger) of the world. Think about it. For that vampire to have a simple banking account where s/he is gaining compound interest, they'd have to have found a bank that was open after 5 pm (or before 6 am in the winter -- in the Midwest, anyway). I know, in this 24-hour economy, there are more and more banks that offer late night or even all-night services (on line), but that's changed *in my lifetime. * I remember when having "banker's hours" was a slur.

Normally, to open any kind of bank account you have to show up in person (no proxy, unless you're a minor) with some form of actual cash. When would our hero get a chance to put his/her money in?

Of course, in early America bankers would make house calls to collect on debts, etc. (I know this because when I worked at the Minnesota Historical Society, one of my various duties included transcribing letters from a German banking family, and they often commented on business interactions.) I don't know, however, how many of those family banks still exist. I'm not even sure if that family bank dealt in whatever passed as dollars in pre-Civil War era (though I do have a vauge memory of discussions about the gold standard), but instead may have used German marks, which was the currency of that particular immigrant group. Which wouldn't have to be a problem for our hero, until the NAZI occuption of Germany, because I believe the NAZIs changed the money system. (I say this because I have somewhere in my possession what appears to be a NAZI coin.)

Of course, one way to solve the problem of getting our vampire into a bank is to have him/her be from somewhere close to the artic circle -- Finland, Iceland, etc. There, at least, our vampire would be likely to experience part of the year when s/he could wander about during 9 am - 5 pm hours.

I don't know what, if anything, happened to Finnish banks when America had its Crash on October 29, 1929. I do know that American banks were not insured for loss before the Depression, so I suspect that most European banks were not either. This was important during the Crash because banks ran out of money. Banks foreclosed. Even people who did not invest, but people who had saved wisely found themselves locked out and out of luck. So, our vampire who is depending on compound interest could still have lost a fortune if they had their money in an American bank before 1929.

Not that our vampire could have done much about it, sleeping the day away.

I still want to know where this vampire got his/her money to START with.