I’ve been a member of my credit union since 1980. My parents created my account right after my dad was hired at the local power plant. As I’ve discussed before, I’ve maintained my accounts and financed two car loans with them, despite moving five hours away.
But the power plant finally closed in 2011. It was a small credit union (less than $3 million in assets), and it seemed unlikely that it would remain without the backing of regular paychecks from the plant employees. It took less than a year for the merger notification to arrive in the mail. A few months later, Burger Federal Credit Union was no more; I was a new member of Ohio Valley Community Credit Union.
I mentioned it was a small credit union. There was no ATM. No website. No credit cards. Share and draft accounts. Loans. For my teen and adult life, there were two women who worked there – Wendy and Suzie. When I’d swing by the plant to visit my father on his lunch hour, I would pop my head in the trailer right there on the plant property to say hello. My mom would have me drop off tins of homemade caramel corn for them each year for Christmas.
After I moved to the DC area, I would often have to call the credit union to manage my transactions. Even after ten years of passed time, I would rarely have to say anything more than, “Good afternoon, Wendy, this is . . .” before being greeted by a cheerful “Hi Leigh Anne!”
My new credit union is not small. It has $116 million in assets. It has a website with online account management. I have a debit card linked to my share account now. There are six locations across the Ohio Valley. They’re a member of the Alliance One ATM network. I can access my money in any number of ways.
I was born in 1975, which makes me a card-carrying member of Generation X. According to a wide array of navel-gazing resources on the topic, this means I am supposed to be a disenfranchised type, more comfortable with technology than interpersonal relationships. Self-reliant and individualistic, due to a lack of consistent family and support structure. Overly materialistic. Issues with authority.
A lot of that is true.
I love my new credit union. I have my accounts hooked up to my personal finance tools on my mobile devices. I know how to quickly locate the nearest surcharge-free ATMs.
But I miss the friendly ladies on the end the phone, who know my voice in half of a sentence. There’s a lot to be said for advances in technology and increased accessibility. To me, the credit union will always be about the people on the other side of the counter knowing me, and using that knowledge to help me.
When I was home for the holidays, I stopped by the branch closest to my dad’s house. I look forward to making some new friendships. Hopefully, they’ll even learn to recognize me when I call.