Marriage and Civilian Life

From the book Hand to Hand
John’s Road to Healing – Marriage and Civilian Life

Finally the Germans surrendered, ending the war in Europe. With this ease in the strain of the war, I obtained a 21-day pass to the mainland United States. I went straight back to Beth and married her on Thursday, May 24, 1945, just a few days after setting foot at home. Most of the soldiers who were on leave at that time were permitted to remain in the United States rather than return to the Philippines. The need for our service had diminished. Shortly after, I resumed active duty stateside in Arizona, the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The war was over. I chose to return to civilian life and was discharged with the rank of Captain on November 19,1945. Dismissing the possibility of post-graduate study, I promptly returned to employment with the Bank of America in Menlo Park, California. I was married and, as with so many thousands of other soldiers being discharged at that time, I was starting a family and needed to earn a living.

I was now a teller at the bank and also the General Ledger Bookkeeper. Life was very civilian. I walked to work. I took great pride in my accurate accounts and my lack of cash discrepancies. Then one day I discovered something that disturbed me greatly. My cash was short ten dollars. I was confounded at this discrepancy. I made a complete count of all the cash in my drawer, rather than just the bundles of bills. For several months after that, I found myself short in my cash as often as once or twice a week. In an effort to prevent these differences, I became very slow and careful in my work. I made a complete count of one denomination at the end of each day, not just the bundles of a denomination but a complete count of all the bills in that denomination.

One afternoon, when I complete-counted my ten-dollar bills, I found I was short a ten in one of the bundles. I then made a complete-count of all of my currency and coins. I came up missing the ten-dollar bill plus a one-dollar bill, a silver dollar, a fifty-cent piece, a quarter and a dime, a total of $12.85. It was obvious to me that someone had taken the money from my cash box. I told the branch manger of my difference. He replied that a crew from the bank’s Inspection Department was due in a few weeks, so even though my anxiety around the discrepancies was unabated, I let it be. When the inspectors came, they found that the bank’s vault was in single, not double custody and that one man, the assistant manager, took out and put away the cash boxes by himself. A review of his checking account revealed small deposits on the days that one or another of the tellers had differences. When they grilled him, he would not confess to the defalcation, but the evidence was strong enough to get him fired. The vault was returned to double custody and I had no further differences. But because of this, I was terribly slow as a teller and my confidence did not return for at least a year. Anxiety over the future, this time as a possibility that I would have cash discrepancies, was playing a large part in my mind and emotions.

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