Everyone and their mother wants to live on the “Bend Westside.” Contrary to popular belief, however, East Side Bend is a gem all its own. But shhh, don’t tell too many people. We intend on keeping it real over here in East Side Bend for as long as possible. People, places, and house prices included.
I love the Chase Bank branch on Greenwood Ave, near the REgroup Thrift Store (benefits: Hospice, Bend Spay & Neuter, & Together for Children) and the lube shop with the Tuesdays Is Ladies Day magnetic sign. I love it because of its unapologetic old school, small town, welcome-neighbor vibe. Some of the schtick is hokey, unabashedly un-cool, like the greeter: the tellers pull away in shifts, get out from behind the counter and make eye contact, smile, and say hello to incoming customers. Maybe the posters are a little weird. But one can find no fault with the indoor ATM that spits out cash down to one dollar bills. She has a name, and it begins with “M;” it’s not “Magic,” but it sure could be.
East Side Bend Living, Take Your Fancy Elsewhere
I’m gonna say it: we’re on the east side now. East side Bend. No, not THE Bend that everyone is clambering to move to these days, but a fucking down-to-earth, rad, rooted Bend thank you very much.
As my daughter and I sit in industrial-patterned upholstered chairs waiting for a Chase rep to help us open up a new account, we observe a fair cross section of the Bend population: seniors, dusty blue collar workers, office workers, mamas, Latinx in every category. Some yoga pants, sure (maybe on me), but lots of Carhartt and Payless, too.
There’s nothing fancy about the digs. No faux mahogany trim, no marble, no chandeliers, nothing to remind one of the JP Morgan in JP Morgan Chase. There is, however, a complimentary beverage bar with press pots of coffee and hot water, packets of Swiss Miss hot chocolate, powdered creamer, cups, and plastic stirrers. Dum Dums sit in a candy bowl on the accent table, sugar cookies over by the tellers.
East Side Bend, At Your Service
While we sit, an old man in slippers shuffles in with what looks like a check to deposit. He does so, makes a b-line for the cookies, and as he fills his sweatpants pocket, comments to the young woman next to him that he hadn’t had lunch today, but that these’d do him. He then makes himself a hot chocolate at the beverage bar. As he stirs at the steaming cup, one of the bank employees approaches. I fear that the young professional is going to give the old guy the bum’s rush, that maybe he came in too often, and it was time to cut him off. Instead, the bank employee excuses himself, makes eye contact with the old guy, points to his US War Veteran cap and says, “Sir, I just want to thank you for your service.” The old guy nods, very slightly, puts the lid on his cup, and shuffles on out.
Burst That Bend Oregon Bubble. Please.
It’s near to closing time at the bank, and the bank employee retreats to his cubicle, gathers his things, and comes out to say goodbye to every one of his colleagues before going home. He leaves. Then comes back in, not 10 seconds later. He approaches the cubicle next to his own, wherein an African American woman and a teenaged boy, maybe her son, are doing something akin to what my own daughter and I had come in to do. He excuses himself, introduces himself, and says, “I just wanted to say hello and thank you for being a Chase customer.” He goes on to say there aren’t all that many people of color in Bend, and it was good when they could find and acknowledge one another. They chat for a bit. Before he leaves for real, he invites them to call on him for his professional services anytime.
I like to imagine what the bank employee thought about after the bank door shut behind him the first time. In the moment, I saw him backtracking, extending his work day another moment to make a connection. But as I think about it, I realize that this is a guy who is present enough in the world to see people, on and off the clock. Is it good for business? Sure. Kindness is good for all manner of things, commerce included.