“Put your money in the pot, there’ll be no worry tomorrow,” Paul half hummed, half sang this little ditty his mam taught him.
“That’s how she taught me,” he thought, “through song.”
“I wish she was here now, to help me get out of this mess.” Paul continued his humming and singing as he walked up the town.
The bank stood at the top of the town, on its own, imposing its power down on the rest of the shops and offices. It felt like it was the ruler of the town, Paul shuddered, as he entered, wondering if it had a dungeon-like a medieval castle. He was so apprehensive; he really did not want to be here.
“Ah, Mr Healy, come on through, Mike is expecting you,” the friendly cashier, Deirdre, ushered him through to the bank manager’s office.
“Come in, Paul, good to see you. How are things? Take a seat,” Mike Morgan, the exuberant manager rushed each sentence, barely finishing one before getting to the next.
“Deirdre, will you bring tea for two, thank you,” she was dismissed to the menial task
“Now, so Paul, what can we do for you?”
Paul had sat down, sunk into the chair as if he was in a therapy session rather than the bank. “Mike, Mr Morgan, well…,” he didn’t get to finish as Deirdre arrived with the tea.
“Milk? Sugar? Will you have a biscuit? Mammy made them yesterday, she said people need something nice coming into the bank in these times,” Deirdre spoke so softly he barely heard her. Or was he having some kind of episode? In these times, the words lingered in his head, he saw them going past as if attached to an aeroplane advertising, ‘in these times’
Deirdre had barely left when he collapsed in a heap, crying, snivelling, he was totally shamed by his emotions but he couldn’t stop it.
“Just breathe, Paul, we have all been there. Breathe, it will pass,” oddly the words came from hyped-up Mike, no longer looking smugly affable but concern burying deep into his brow.
Paul explained how much trouble he was in, six figured debt, no orders coming in, no way to pay off the staff in redundancy, Sadie and the kids had left him, the house was empty, he’d been selling off the furniture just to live on and pay wages the last few weeks. He had nothing, the car was repossessed and it was only a matter of time before the courts caught up with him.
Mike listened, he was a seasoned listener, for all the bravado, he had heard this tale many times, too many times in the last few weeks. “What would you like to do, if you could?” he asked.
“Give you the keys to everything and disappear, go off some place new, start again, pay off what I owe and get Sadie and kids back. We were poor once, we can do it. Sadie used to iron and mend clothes. I used to make things, tables, chairs. That’s how we started, it was good back then. Oh, why did we have to build such a big house? Why did we keep expanding the business? We don’t even make anything anymore, it is all imported.”
Mike stood up and came around the desk, “Paul, I take you at your word, disappear, make it work, make it right. Keys?”
“Really, you’ll do this for me?”
“Yes, but not for you, for your mammy. She taught me a valuable lesson when I was younger. I got into a bit of strife. Owed money to some thugs. Not a lot, but enough that it was never going to end. Your mammy paid it off and she said ‘put your money in the pot and there’ll be no worry tomorrow’. And that is how I have lived my life since. She was a very wise woman was Bridie Healy. I know I can count on you.”
“Thank you, thank you so much, here,” and Paul gave all the keys over, shook Mike’s hand and departed.
He left town that day to seek his life back and never looked back. Sadie and the kids joined him after a few weeks and they got on with it. In time he sent money back to the bank until he got a letter saying ‘paid in full’. They treated themselves to a fish supper that evening and a couple of bottles of beer. Life was simple for them, they smiled more, spoke more and loved more.
Back in the town, Deirdre came into the bank manager’s office, “Mike, that’s three out of how many that have paid you back. The bank knows nothing except the loans are paid off. Why did you do it?”
“Well, let me see, money troubles bring so much sorrow, my dad and his dad, they helped where they could, I guess, I just help where I can. I’m lucky in that I kept my money in the mattress. Never did trust the bank!” and they both laughed.