My (unfriendly) neighborhood bank

A few days ago, I was valiantly trying to convince a teller at my bank to put a check into my account as instant cash instead of having to wait until the next morning. I knew a rogue check I had written to my daughter's preschool was somewhere -- out there -- and if it went through that night, the consequences would be ugly. The bank would process the check, pummel me with $35 charges for not having funds to cover it -- and then they would deposit the money. Money, of course, that they had been holding onto for hours.

And so goes another typical day in the not-so glamorous life of a freelance writer.

I realize when it comes to complaining about the bank's tactics, I'm on shaky ground. As sinister as I think it is, I get it. Banks have rules; I didn't follow them. But I am wondering how we got to this point. Maybe I have a naive view of banks, shaped from how I've seen George Bailey run his savings and loan in about 467 airings of the classic 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life. But it does seem like bank policies have positioned these institutions to act more as a foe than friend. In fact, when bemoaning the city's foreclosures, the mayor of Cleveland recently likened banks to "organized crime."