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5:11 a.m. - 2003-03-05

YOU CAN BANK ON IT

Today, I’d like to talk about ... bank tellers.

More specifically ... my bitter hatred for each and every bank teller on the face of the earth.

I was a bank teller in two different banks back in my 20s.

But I was a cool bank teller. I joked with the customers. I got along with all the females that I worked with (it helps when you’re the only male teller).

And I never....NEVER closed my window to sit and read a cheap paperback romance novel while eating Cheetos and drinking Diet Coke while ignoring the growing line of customers like Rhonda did yesterday.

(Mental note: The day I can once again kick higher than waist level is the day I pay Miss Rhonda a visit with some steel toe boots)

So yesterday, I stop by the bank during my lunch hour to deposit my check from Television Without Pity.

I have never deposited this check.

Susie always does.

The check comes from Canada and from what Susie has told me, they have to do something special to it.

Bless it with holy water or something. I dunno.

I only pay attention to about a tenth of what my wife says.

And paying attention to the strict guidelines that are put upon depositing paychecks from Canada ... well ... needless to say, that’s part of the 90% of stuff that I’ve never bothered to listen to.

So Edweird and I pull up in the bank’s drive-thru. I endorse the check and fill out the deposit slip and send that baby inside.

Three minutes later I get “Uncle Bob, you’ll have to come inside to fill out some paperwork in order for us to collect on this check.”

To this, I say “BAH!!”

But it actually came out “Okay!”

So I pull up in the parking lot and ask Edweird if he wants to go inside or stay in the car. Edweird is a fragile lad ... a ticking time bomb of venom that can explode at any time. I know better than to leave him in the car for an extended amount of time. There’s always that chance that he’ll start ripping the seats apart in anger and try to dry hump my tape player.

“I’ll stay in the car,” he muttered.

“Hokay!” I said cheerfully. “This should only take a minute!”

...Obviously, it had been a long enough period of time since I last dealt with an actual bank teller face-to-face and had completely forgotten that the only thing a bank teller can do in less than a minute is inhale a bag of Cheetos while ignoring the customers.

So I get inside and make a smart move. I go to the receptionist first.

“Excuse me,” I say, trying to sound like a person that’s not entirely pissed the moment he walks in the door. “But I’ve got a check from Canada that I tried to deposit in the drive-thru and I was told I’d have to come in here to fill out some paperwork in order to collect on the check first. Where would I do that?”

She grunted and pointed at the tellers inside.

And the line of six people who looked as if they were in line at a concentration camp.

I become number seven in line and innocently scan the tellers.

There’s four tellers. Two are working. One’s talking on the phone and giggling. The other is Rhonda, sitting there reading her paperback, eating her Cheetos and not acknowledging the growing line of people.

One of the things I really hate is that freakin’ sign “Please Wait Here For Next Available Teller”. Like I’m going to be running up and down from teller window to teller window, laughing maniacally like that bird from the old “Cocoa Puffs” commercial.

I think what I hate most about it is when you’re at the front of the line, and a teller finishes with her customer, the customer walks away and then the teller makes the crucial decision ... is she ready to call you over? Or does she want to walk away from her window and go chat with a co-worker somewhere else in the bank?

And you stand there, like a bad child facing a corner, waiting and hoping that she says those magic words “May I help you?” At which point, you’re allowed to trot over to her window and do whatever it is you’re there to do. You’ve won! You’ve beaten the system and actually got waited on!

While I stood in line, the token male teller decided he was ready to close his window for no apparent reason.

This left one teller available for a growing line of people. The other three tellers were just ... sitting there. They may have been on break, but for God’s sakes... if you’re on break...LEAVE YOUR WINDOW! DO NOT TAUNT THOSE OF US ON LIMITED LUNCH HOURS WITH YOUR PRESENCE!

I seriously wanted to walk over to the male teller, grab him by that patch of whiskers underneath his lower lip, pull his face close to mine and say “Open your goddamned window now, you worthless piece of lukewarm dog shit before I freak the fuck out and use the pointy part of my elbow to jab you between the eyes several dozen times in rapid succession.”

Alas, I just let out a loud sigh when he slammed his “Next Available Teller” sign down loudly in his window.

So now we were all waiting and hoping that Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott wouldn’t notice that she was the only available teller and wouldn’t shut her window down out of protest that she was the only teller working, leaving us customers with no tellers.

Missy took care of the few people left in front of me and then it was my turn. I was standing there patiently at the front of the line, waiting for the next available teller.

Missy was staring at me. Not saying a word. Locking her eyes upon mine.

Deadly silence.

And then finally, she uttered the magic words. She didn’t want to. I could tell. But she knew that if she didn’t, she’d then be the mother to welfare babies and nobody wants to raise welfare babies because their snot is thicker than the average baby’s snot and it tends to get all over everything.

“May I he’p you?” she shouted.

“YES!!” I exclaimed, grinning widely. “YES, YOU MAY!!”

I waddled to her window and explained to her that I had just went through the drive-thru to deposit this check and they said that I had to come inside to fill out some paperwork.

“You have to fill out some paperwork,” she informed me.

“Yes, I know,” I said. “That’s why I’m here.”

It took her about ten minutes to work up the energy to open a drawer, pull out a tablet of these sheets that needed to be filled out and started filling them out.

“Name?” she asked.

“It’s right there on the check,” I said, pointing at the name on the check.

“Address?” she asked.

“It’s right there on the check,” I said, pointing at the address on the check.

“Account number?” she asked.

“It’s right there on the back of the check,” I said, flipping the check over and showing her the account number.

Missy was obviously getting pissed with me because I was foiling her every plan to stall me and keep me miserable for as long as she could.

“Excuse me for a minute,” she said.

“I’m timing you!” I joked.

She stared at me with pure evil in her eyes.

She got up and stretched in her little cubicle. Ran in place for a few seconds. Touched her toes. Did some bends at the waist. A few jumping jacks. About a dozen sit-ups. Made a phone call to her baby’s daddy to let him know that he could come over later and knock boots with her if he wanted to and then cussed him out when she found out he has a new girlfriend and a new baby girl.

She then sat back down in her chair.

“I’m back,” she said.

“I see,” I said.

She continued her paperwork, painstakingly crafting each letter and number with sheer precision and perfection.

The other three tellers were involved in an eating contest to see who could eat ten crackers and then whistle the fastest. They were all laughing and slapping each other and getting loud while blowing clouds of cracker crumbs all over the bank.

Finally, Missy finishes the paperwork.

Now she wants to tell me how all this works.

It will take between two and ten weeks for the check to be collected on because they have to send it to another bank who then have to check it for any voodoo curses and if there does happen to be a voodoo curse on the check, they have to call a high priest from Jamaica to fly in and undo the curse.

This will only cost me $39.95 if the check actually needs a voodoo curse removed. It’s a bargain actually.

I’m just nodding my head to the beat of the Clash’s “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?” which is playing on the Muzak system in the bank, so that she thinks I‘m listening to her. If you had asked me 20 years ago if I thought I’d ever hear a Muzak version of that song in a bank, I would have said “Shut up and quit bogarting that joint, bitch.” Because I really didn’t listen much to others back then either.

I sign the paperwork and she asks if I need copies of everything.

I grapple with the decision. I rest my chin in my hand and pretend to think long and hard about the answer. She’s on MY time now. She has to wait for my next available answer. The ball is finally in my court.

I decide to show her what it’s like to wait on someone so I do two jumping jacks, get light-headed and almost pass out from the most physical exertion that I‘ve experienced in a while. I lean into her window and say “Yeah. Make me some copies, Missy.”

She gets up and slooooooowly walks to a room behind the bank of tellers.

She’s gone for about three minutes. Speaking only for myself, it’d probably take me 30 seconds tops to make copies.

She was obviously not using a machine and was just copying each document by hand.

She finally comes out of the room and is stopped by Dr. Soul Patch who wants to tell her a joke. They whisper back and forth for about a minute until she laughs loud enough to wake the dead. Then she continues back to her window and my outstretched waiting hands.

She gets stopped by Princess Cheetos who wants to ask her a question about the lifespan of your average cricket and how it’s determined scientifically. Missy breaks down the methods used and explains the painstakingly detailed process that determines a cricket’s life span. Princess Cheetos thanks her and she continues.

By this point, I’m shaving the beard that I’ve grown while being in the bank and hardly notice her come back to her window.

“Here you go sir,” she says, handing me the paperwork. “I’m sorry it took so long.”

“Sorry enough to slyly add a couple grand into my account?” I respond.

“Nope,” she said, opening a bag of Cheetos and stuffing her big assed hand inside.

“Alright then,” I said, turning tail and fleeing out of the bank like I had a bagload of cash. I always like to leave a bank like that. Makes the day more interesting for everyone inside.

I get out to the car and sure enough ... Edweird has his shriveled up pecker out and is trying to pork the slot in my tape player.

“Stuff it back in,” I bark. “I don’t want you jizzing on my Ramonesmania tape.”

“What took you so fucking long?” he asked.

“I’m not exactly sure,” I said. “But I did get to meet Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott.”

“Who?” he asked.

“Exactly,” I said.

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