Short Story Fiction
Bail-In Dress Rehearsal
by Scott A. Gese

It was Friday afternoon. The ATM was offline and the bank had closed early.

bail-in dress rehearsalPudsey/Wikimedia Commons

It was a beautiful Friday afternoon. Tom Stanford had left work early to get a head start on the weekend. He stood in front of the ATM machine outside his bank. It wasn’t working. The screen was flashing an out of service message. He needed some cash for the weekend so he decided to go inside and withdraw his money. He was surprised when he found the door locked. He looked at his watch. “It’s only 2 o’clock,” he thought. “What gives?”

The bank’s security guard stood on the other side of the glass door. “Are you closed?” Asked Tom.

The guard replied without opening the door. “Yes, we’re closed,” was all he said.


The guard pointed to his phone. “Check the bank’s website. It’ll explain.”

Tom had a bad feeling about this. Was his bank in trouble? Was this part of the dreaded “Bail-in” process he had been reading about? Tom went back to his car and pulled out his phone. “They better not be taking my money,” he thought as he looked up the banks site.

There was a notice on their home page. Due to technical difficulties with our computer system, all branches, nation-wide, are closed for the day. We should have the situation resolved soon. If you wish to make a deposit, you may do so at any branch. Unfortunately, withdraws are not possible at this time. Have a nice weekend.

“Have a nice weekend??? You’ve got to be kidding me. They have my money and I can’t get at it. How the hell is that going to make for a nice weekend?” Tom was fuming.

Another customer walked up to the door. By now, the guard had taped a notice to the glass. The customer began to bang on the door, screaming. “You have my money and I want some of it.”

Soon, several others had read the notice. Most were confused and a couple were in a panic. Like Tom, they needed access to their money for weekend projects and travel expenses.

There was one exception to the mounting panic. An older man who didn’t seem at all upset.

“You don’t seem too excited about the bank being closed,” commented Tom.

“Why should I be?” He replied. “The notice says they have computer problems and they’ll be open again on Monday. I don’t have any reason to believe otherwise. Besides, I have emergency money at home just for such an occasion. Don’t you? Look at it this way. It’s not our money locked up in there, it’s theirs.”

“What do you mean it’s theirs? I earned it and I made the deposit into my account. They’re holding it for me in my account, It’s my money.”

“I hate to burst your bubble but you’re Wrong,” replied the gentleman. “What you did when you opened your account was loan your money to the bank for them to use as they see fit. They keep track of how much you’ve loaned them. They charge you fees for the “Service” and give you a pittance of interest in return.

The interest and your signature on the account you opened is proof you loaned them your money. You can ask for your money back and usually they’ll give it to you right away if it’s not too much. But it’s to their discretion as to whether you get it or not. You should have read the fine print when you opened your account. Like I said, your signature told them you were willing to play their game. You agreed.”

A woman overhearing the conversation chimed in. “I think this must be a test to see how we’ll react to a real bank shutdown. Their conditioning us for the real thing.”

Tom didn’t like what he was hearing. On Monday morning as soon as the bank opened he went in and closed his savings account. Except for a small amount in his checking account, he would take charge of his money from now on. Screw the interest. From now on, he would be his own banker.

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