My Financial Career

by Stephen Leacock

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Why did the manager mistake the author for a detective in "My Financial Career"?

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The author says that every time he goes to a bank, he gets rattled. On this occasion, he visits the bank because he has had a small pay increase and feels that he must deposit the money in the bank without delay. However, his nervousness makes him behave strangely on this perfectly innocent mission. When he enters the bank, he says that he has some idea that someone who wants to open an account must consult the manager.

He asks the accountant ("a tall, cool devil" whose demeanor makes him even more nervous) in a sepulchral tone if he can see the manager:

"Can I see the manager?" I said, and added solemnly, "alone." I don’t know why I said "alone."

The accountant goes to fetch the manager, whereupon the author, instead of stating his business, asks again to see him alone. He does not want to say "alone" again "but without it the thing seemed self-evident."

The manager looks alarmed, as though the author has some dreadful secret to reveal. He takes the author into a private room and locks the door so they will not be interrupted. It is at this point that the manager says he presumes the author is from Pinkerton's, the private detective agency. The author's own nervous behavior has made those around him equally nervous to the point where they feel that he must be there as a detective pursuing some enquiry.

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