This section is from the "Practical Banking" book, by Albert S. Bolles.
It is possible that your predecessor allowed improper indulgences to a particular director, or had favorites among your customers, and that you will feel constrained to put an end to these and to similar irregularities. To accomplish this, in harmony, will require all the wisdom and good-nature that you can command. It is possible, too, that overtures may be made to you to grant favors inconsistent with your duty; but, as such cases will arise from thoughtlessness or ignorance, as often as from unworthy motives, you should be silent, except when corrupt intentions are too apparent to be mistaken, or the importunities of the same person become so frequent as to be troublesome.
The customers of a country bank, unlike the merchants of large and busy cities, expect of the cashier some inquiries about their families, and remarks upon the news of the day, upon the crops, the weather, and other matters of personal or local interest. To a reasonable extent this expectation should be gratified. But discussions across your counter on topics of sectarian theology and party politics are to be avoided—entirely avoided. Nor, if you hear, should you reply to, or take part in, tales of scandal and neighborhood gossip. Polite to all, sociable to a degree not to interfere with your duties, inviting and giving friendly greetings, your deportment is yet to be dignified, and such as becomes a well-bred gentleman.
You will transact business with persons who cannot even write a note of hand in proper form; with those who cannot be made to acknowledge the necessity of a notice to an endorser; and with those who will pertinaciously insist upon having their own way, whatever your reasoning or objections to the contrary. Teach the ignorant, without giving them pain; be firm with the self-willed, without evincing impatience or anger; for the smart of a sharp word, or of a proud toss of the head, is sometimes felt for years. "Contempt," says an Eastern proverb, "will penetrate the shell of a tortoise;" be sure to remember it will pierce deeper into the epidermis of a fellow-man.
To require, and to insist upon, regular bank hours will occasion some difficulty in some places. People whose business at banks is rare, seem to forget that a cashier, like other men, has a love of fresh air, or that he needs exercise and relaxation; and thus cannot or will not understand why he is not ready to accommodate them early in the morning, and late in the evening. These persons seek him in his moments of rest and recreation, ask him to receive money at his house, or in the village stores, and complain if he refuses such reasonable requests. You will be unjust to yourself if you submit to these, or to similar demands. The intervals between bank hours are yours by positive contract, and by the very necessities of your physical and mental being. Do not permit inroads upon them, save in extraordinary exigencies; in these, leave your bed even, to serve a customer. Still, as loose and unsafe habits may have been encouraged by your predecessors, or countenanced by directors, measures of reform will be odious, unless gradual. Under kind and considerate treatment your laggards may become punctual, and untimely requests to open your vault entirely cease.
A single "suggestion" more. The private and social relations of a country cashier are of consequence, and ought not to be over-looked. And, first, a salary officer, under ordinary circumstances, needs not to be in debt for his personal or family expenses; and, as cash payments are sure to show whether he is "living beyond his means," may I not commend the safe rule of "paying as you go? "
Again, may I not be allowed to suggest the duty of constant attendance at church, even though you cannot worship with persons of your own faith; and also of manifesting an interest in schools, public lectures, lyceums, and other means employed to promote the welfare of society? The community in which you live have a claim upon you, not only for an exemplary life, but for contributions of money in proportion to your ability, to aid in the maintenance of the religious, literary and benevolent associations established among them.
To conclude. Should it be thought that I might have omitted the discussion of some topics, and have treated others with greater brevity, I submit, with deference, that I have endeavored to be a careful observer. More than twenty-five years have elapsed since the commencement of my connection with banks and banking; and as I now look back and recall the facts elicited by judicious inquiry, and the facts embraced in other well-authenticated accounts which relate to bank officers who have fallen, never again to rise, or whose lives have been saddened and embarrassed by want of firmness in resisting the allurements of pleasure, or the solicitations of the companions of their social hours—by an overweening self-confidence—by too great faith in others; as, too, I remember the complaints against another class, who, though without a moral stain, have still injured themselves and the institutions with which they are concerned by churlishness and irritability; I find no cautions and admonitions to omit, no recommendations that may not, I think, assist in forming the character of the officer for whom these suggestions are intended.
A single word more. Many of the cashiers whose private virtues and professional ability adorn the annals of banking in the United States, receive salaries nearly equal to the emoluments of cabinet ministers, or military officers of the highest rank, and are intrusted with powers so ample, that they seem to be private bankers, wielding their own capital. These gentlemen have attained the crowning honors of their profession. Let the "young cashier" aim to reach the same eminence among men and among bankers. Let him remember that, whatever the influence of friends at the outset of his career, his position in the maturity of his years must, in the Very nature of things, depend upon himself, upon his capacity, his courage, and his probity.
I have here spoken to him as to my only son, and take my leave, in the earnest hope that, in the labors of some one of his seniors, communicated to the "Magazine" upon the invitation which, perhaps, I have unwisely accepted, he will be sure to find a path marked out for him which will lead him to the rewards of a well-spent life.