Does anybody know the statute of limitations on robbing a bank? I could say I’m asking for a friend, but that would be a lie. You see, I robbed a bank once. Before you start dialing Crime Stoppers looking for the five-thousand-reward, you should know that I didn’t do it on purpose. In point of fact, I tried my best to avoid robbing the bank. Sadly, the bank insisted I commit this dastardly crime. Hey, banks are always right, just ask them. I’m guessing now would be a good time to explain.
It was a gray Friday morning in the naked city. I rose from the bed, drank breakfast, then hit the bricks. I didn’t go there to commit a felony but sometimes things just happen. Actually, I just wanted to get a few bucks from the ATM. I didn’t even think I was going to talk to anyone. Just a few minutes with the machine, and I would be on my way. Boy was I wrong.
It all started when I drove up to the Auto teller. I inserted my card and asked for sixty dollars. The machine hummed and spit out the cash. I pulled to the side and counted. The bills were stuck together pretty tightly so I made sure. The thing had given me two extra twenties. At first, I thought, Hurray, it’s my lucky day. Then the little white angel poofed on to my shoulder, slapped me in the face. and told me I must return it like a good person would. Actually, it wasn’t my conscious so much as my fear that when the bank found the error, they would charge me a fee. I’m way too poor to pay fees.
So, I pulled around the building, parked the car and went in. Did you know there is no line for returning cash? Oh, there’s a line for investing, withdrawals, business loans, and for donating blood to the blood bank, but no place to give back money. Obviously, it’s not a very popular transaction. Well I got into the regular teller line and waited.
When it was my turn, I explained to the lady I had been given too much at the ATM and wanted to give it back. She was confused. What’s worse is she actually accused me of playing some kind of joke, to mess with her balancing for the day. I tried to tell her no, but she insisted I speak with Pam. Pam was in charge of the customer service windows. She would surly know what to do. Not so much.
I had to wait a few extra minutes for Pam, but I am a good citizen. Even though I was going to be late for work, I waited patiently. Pam walked over with a big toothy grin like a T-Rex, which faded the minute I told her the issue. Then she called me a liar. It is impossible for the machine to make such a mistake she added. It was obvious that I had requested the cash by mistake. Now, I admit I’m not great with numbers but I do know the difference between sixty and one-hundred. I showed her my receipt proving what I said. She had the gall to suggest I must have mixed it up with money in my pants. That’s when I should have left. I should have agreed with her insanity and pocketed the bonus. Sadly, I’m not that smart. I pursued my case and said the ATM should be inspected. Pam then sent me to Alice, who is responsible for the machine.
Alice was nice enough, and never criticized me for bringing back the cash. She did say that it was impossible to check the machine at this time because it was the middle of the business day. She suggested I come back after the end-of-day balancing. I counter suggested that she take the cash from me, place it an envelope, and when the thing didn’t balance the cash would be right there.
Alice hit the ceiling. She freaked out so completely I thought she was having some kind of seizure, and considered calling 911. When she was able to speak again, I was told she could not even think about randomly taking cash from customers. She would lose her job. I suggested she give me a receipt. That way it would all be above board and she would not be taking it randomly. She refused. It was just not done. I would have to come back the next day after the machine was balanced. Only then would she accept the cash.
I was unceremoniously dismissed without so much as a word. In fact, it happened so fast she didn’t even take my name or phone number. Well I went on to work confused but feeling pretty confident I was not going back to see Alice the next day. Unfortunately, I mentioned it to my boss. He went nuts over the story. He was sure that if I didn’t go back, they would close my accounts, destroy my credit rating, come to the house and kick my dog. Then the authorities would arrest me, my wife, and all current and future children. He insisted I had to go back.
Well I was scared. I put the extra cash in an envelope, then in a box, then into a fireproof box then into the safe. There was no way I was going to lose that money before the next day. When morning came, I was first in line to get in the building and went straight to Alice’s desk. She was off that day. I went to the branch manager and told him my story. He indicated I’d have to come back after the machine was balanced. You see there had been a big meeting that morning and the machine was refilled but it wouldn’t be balanced until the end of the day. Again, I was sent home and still no one had my name or contact info.
As it turns out I went out of town that weekend so I did not make it back to the bank on Monday. Tuesday I was at the door, ready to be hauled away in chains, for not producing myself the day before. Well there were no Wanted Posters hanging on the wall with my picture. I asked for Alice and was told she was no longer at the branch. I asked if the ATM had been balanced and was told it had been. Because of so many new bills it had come up several dollars over. Then I was again asked to leave. I had obviously made a mistake.
Throughout life my elders, the clergy, and friends have told me to always do the right thing. It may be the harder road, but it’s always the correct one. Heck, I have said the same thing to my children. This story though has taught me a valuable lesson; Doing right is not necessarily the harder road. Sometimes it’s bloody impossible!!!