A longtime familiar face at the Depot Drive Thru in McArthur will soon retire. Sandy Bates, a 33 year employee of Vinton County National Bank will retire this Friday.
Even on a slow day, scores of vehicles line up in Sandy’s lane to be waited on by the friendly woman who seems to always wear a smile. She asks customers about their kids, talks about the car they just bought and passes out dog bones to customers of the canine variety. Often times she knows what the customer wants before they even ask.
She’s recently begun telling regulars that she won’t be with the bank much longer. “I retire in eight days” she exclaimed to one regular customer. “One man seemed a little upset when I told him I was leaving. I didn’t even know him that well so I was kind of surprised,” she explained.
Sandy began her career at the bank in the Bookkeeping Department. “Bookkeeping wasn’t quite what I thought it was,” she offered with a laugh. “I filed checks all day, every day! I worked at that quite a while before I went to Mr. (Bob) Will and asked to do something else.”
She has worked as a teller since, spending some time in the bank lobby but most of her career in the Depot. “I have enjoyed it here. It’s nice and quiet here and I feel close to the customer waiting on them here,” she said. “I get to see their kids and their animals and a lot of things I would miss in the lobby. Little kids will talk to me, dogs know they’re going to get a bone. I’ve seen people grow from car seats into parents.”
It can be a stressful job at times, especially on busy days. However, Sandy said she received some very good advice from another VCNB retiree who trained her. “Ruth Molihan always said that the customer in front of you is the most important person right now. I’ve always made that my policy and I think it’s a good one,” Sandy said.
She reminisced about many of the changes in bank personnel and in changes to banking and society that have taken place over the years. “I started out filing checks all day and now you just don’t see that many checks,” she said. She also expressed great respect for late VCNB President Bob Will who she said “was quite the visionary” for his early adaption of new technologies.
Sandy said that her retirement is bittersweet. “I have enjoyed working here and am sad to leave but a little happy too. I’ll miss the customers and the people I work with but it’s a good time to go while I still have my health and can get out and enjoy life.”
She looks forward to spending more time with family and is especially excited to spend more time with her grandchildren.
McArthur Branch Manager Jane Nickels said that Sandy’s absence will be felt by the bank and by her customers. “Once the customers find out she’s going to be gone, many will be very disappointed. That first lane is always lined up when the second lane has no one in it because Sandy tends to be everyone’s favorite,” Jane said. “The drive thru seems to be her niche. We’ve asked her to come into the lobby before but she enjoys the challenge and seems to genuinely enjoy how busy she is with her customers at the drive thru.”
Jane complimented Sandy’s professionalism, noting that at the age of 79 she still works every day in high heels. “She’s a lady. She’s a lady who cares about her customers, who has built relationships with her customers. We wish her the best but her absence will be a loss to the customers and to the bank.”
Friday will be Sandy’s last day on the job. The entire bank family wishes her a long and happy retirement!