A Fifth Third Confused

I love to ponder about the how’s and why’s of possibilities and impossibilities. I love to think about the quirky stuff that messes with my head. Like how it’s impossible to squat down, put your hands under your feet, and lift yourself up off the ground. One of these days I’m going to figure that one out. I think about the impossibility of walking into a wall: If from you to the nearest wall there is a half-way point, and from that half-way point to the wall there is another half-way point, and so on and so on, then how is it possible if you have to always pass through half-way points that we are ever able to reach the wall?

And then there are the bigger ponderings.

How is it possible that there exists a banking institution, with branches in 12 states between Florida and Michigan, called the Fifth Third Bank? I mean, seriously, what kind of grammar is that? What if Fifth Third Bank opens up smaller, associated branches like the Seventh Second Bank? How many millions of confused looks will that one get? Or what if they raised the bar of perplexity to an entirely different level of confusion and created Twelfth Sixth Tenth Eighth Bank? It’s a name-branding mess. I suggest the wannabe geniuses who came up with Fifth Third Bank admit their self-made catastrophe, and simply call it: Bank. After all, Bank is not even an official name of any bank. “So, where do you do your banking?” “Bank.” For sure, I missed my calling as a corporate financial marketing consultant.

Imagine if Fifth Third decided to expand their corporate interests into entirely different markets…

Donut shops:  “Hello! Welcome to Fifth Third One Half Dozen Donuts!”

Fitness centers:  “At Fourth-Twentieth Hour Fitness we’re committed to serving you every fourth of an hour twenty times a day!”

Convenience stores:  “At Seventh Eleventh we have a sixth beer of a pack on sale for $1/6.”

Obscurity enough to drive you crazy fifth-thirds of the time!

It’s a name with historical roots, dating back to 1908 when Third National Bank and Fifth National Bank merged to become the Fifth Third National Bank of Cincinnati. From that point on, Fifth Third flexed its buying power and began acquiring and joint-venturing with many banks, firmly establishing themselves as a major regional financial contingent. The only problem is, nobody cares about how its name derived. All they’re thinking (with a look on their face like they’ve sucked on a lemon) is: Fifth Third—it sounds weird. The term doesn’t roll off the tongue, but rather stumbles awkwardly, tripping over your teeth, then helplessly sliding off your lips, before plummeting into your soup. Fifth Third. It’s like someone said, “To hell with making sense! We are steering this ship by our own illiterate rules!!” And off they steered it, into a tidal wave of broken Englishness.

So, I’m thinking maybe, just maybe, Fifth Third is really part of the new math. Like a banking industry-only math. Perhaps you can only withdraw a fifth of your savings on the third day of the week. But then, why not just call it the Fifth Tuesday Bank?

Well, I’m deciding to conclude this story even though it’s only a fifth done on my third attempt to making any sense of a bank that is not only a Fifth Third, but is apparently one two-thirds of a bank as well.


Copyright Ros Hill 2016


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