Kim Carpenter has spent her entire career in banking and it shows. The drive thru window teller will retire Friday from her post at Ross County Banking Center on Main Street in Chillicothe after spending years developing a loyal following of customers.
Customers know Kim as the friendly woman who remembers how they like their change and who knows the names of all their dogs. What some may not realize is that she hasn’t always worked in a customer facing job. She actually started out in the operations department of a bank in Homestead, Florida at the age of 17. “When I was a high school senior, I went to school in the morning and went home for lunch. Then I would go to the bank where I worked part time in bookkeeping. I loved that job.”
After graduation, she got married and went full time at the bank before eventually taking time off to have children. “I tried to go back to work after my first son was born but I kept hearing about his firsts from other people and I didn’t want to hear about those things. I wanted to be there to see him grow up.”
By the time she returned to the workforce in the early eighties, a lot had changed. She recalled being assigned to use a computer for the first time. “I had been there a while and thought I was doing a good job but one day this message popped up that my password was going to expire and I thought that meant I was being fired,” she laughed. “I worried about that for two days before I worked up the nerve to ask someone about it. They got a big laugh out of it because it’s just standard procedure in a bank. But I didn’t know! I hadn’t worked with computers before!”
In 1995, her sons were grown, she was divorced and had an opportunity to return to Ohio. Her family had moved to Florida when she was in the first grade but her heart remained in the Buckeye state. In fact, she fondly recalls childhood summers spent visiting her grandparents’ farm where they raised crops and animals. “I looked forward to it all year. It was old school farm life and I think that’s where I really learned to love animals. I got that from my grandparents.”
After coming back to Ohio, she briefly worked another job before returning to her banking roots, this time as a teller. And the rest, as they say, is history.
“I had never worked as a teller or with customers so I really didn’t know if I could do it but I’m so glad that I came here.”
Starting part time, she quickly was offered a full time position and eventually moved to the drive thru window where she has stayed for about 18 of the 22 years she has been with the bank.
Here she has gotten to know customers from a different perspective. “The drive thru is different than meeting people at the teller window. You see a little bit into their world. You see their kids grow up in the backseat, meet their dogs. I‘ve been offered opportunities to do other things but really love working the drive thru and didn’t want to leave.”
She recalls how children who loved getting suckers when they came through with their parents are now adults bringing their own little ones to the bank. One little girl didn’t want her mom to even stop at the bank “unless my Kim is working” –she still banks with Kim as an adult.
While Kim loves her work, she looks forward to having free time to spend as she wishes. “I want to just be home, to take care of things I’ve been putting off because I’m busy. And I want to have more time with my animals,” she explained.
In fact, Kim’s eyes light up when she talks about her animals like her little dog Mandee, a pony named KT and a host of others including chickens, cats and goats. She and her husband Jeff have a small farm complete with a garden that she looks forward to working in more. “I love being outdoors. If I’m home, I’m not in front of the tv. I’m outside with the animals or mowing – there’s always something!” she said. “We like going to auctions and yard sales on the weekends so it will be nice to get things done during the week and not feel bad about going out to have fun on the weekends.”
Kim and Jeff have been married for almost 23 years. She has two sons, four stepchildren and five grandchildren. She soon will be a great grandmother.
Her last day of work will be Friday. “I will miss my customers and I’ll miss a lot of coworkers too,” she said. “The people here are so nice, so friendly. I will miss that aspect but I think this is a good time to go and I’m looking forward to my freedom.”