I had ditched a job in a call centre that had been the worst job I have ever had, and moved back to a bookshop chain that I had previously spent many happier years with, when the chain was taken over by a small American charity, (I will not go into details here, that will no doubt be another object in the future) I was forced to look around for some other kind of work.
With my money handling, customer service experience I randomly decided that banking was a good secure job to get into. This was of course pre-Northern Rock, and the ensuing banking crisis.
After several interviews I was invited into Bradford & Bingley for an interview, and I suspect through personality rather than hard solid experience I got the job, and started within weeks.
I started working with an amazing team. Patient, knowledgeable, fun loving people who I enjoyed working with, and socializing with in the pub afterwards. We had our hard times, but generally these were good times when I met people that I am sure I will always be in contact with.
Then the banking crisis hit, Northern Rock went under, B&B were tipped as being next, we had scripts and memos to say how solid the bank was, we believed it, and passed this confidence on to our customers. It turned out to be a misplaced confidence.
The share price dropped fro £4 to 40p, the scrabble for saving became increasingly desperate, parts of the mortgage book were hastily sold to GE money. We all knew deep down that the company was doomed, but you know what? These days were still happy days. We worked late, we worried about our jobs, but we still found time for a few pints and a few laughs at the City Gate or the Fat Pig.
One Friday we went to work as Bradford & Bingley employees, the next Monday we came to work as Santander employees. The company had failed, the government had helped put a deal together, the Spanish bank was bailing us out.
A few people left in the next few months, but largely most of the people I worked with back then are still with the company. I have since moved region. There are still good days and bad days, we still have scripts and memos that we occasionally have to read with confidence to customers, but we still go to the pub and have a few pints and a few laughs.
This money box, although mostly empty these days, for me signifies my first days in banking, and although I joined just at the time that banking was about to change for ever, I don't regret having made that decision.
At least I don't work in a call centre...