Monday, October 16, 2006

How I spent my weekend, or . . . What's Ted gotten us into now?

The Fridge

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Wo-o-o-ow it's been a while. Jeesh. See, I got this job that takes up 15 hours of my day and haven't had it in me to write at all. Excuses excuses.

Last Saturday, I had a humbling experience. Went to the bank to do some business during which I had the chance to people-watch a bit. The line, she crawled. As I snaked around to the second switchback in the queue (wait, do they call them switchbacks in bank lines? Whatever.), a loud, skinny, sun-wrinkled, man in a dirty black tshirt entered the lobby with his family. He yakked on the phone and laughed with whomever it was on the other end of his raucous conversation. His kid played with the hooks on the queue ropes, as kids tend to do in boring ol' bank lobbies and airport terminals, and was generally quiet. His wife stared at the flat-screen television displaying some Washington scandal in HD. As the line inched along, we ended up side-by-side for a time and the man stank. Reeked! It was as if his sweat was made of nicotene and sewage. A plumber? Who's to say. He seemed happy enough. His family was well-clothed and easygoing. I'm not going to try to figure his life out right now, I told myself. But man! does he smell. Poor guy'll probably die when he's fifty.
In a split-second, My mind pictured him at dimly-lit bars, boozing his life away. Ingesting methamphetamines and philandering. My rational side was telling me to quit thinking like that, but my imagination was wandering away too quickly to halt it. After another minute or so, I forgot about him completely and zoned on the TV myself.

I got to the teller and went through my business. It took a lot longer than I expected since the teller basically did whatever he wanted to do despite my very specific instructions. The manager had to come out and void things - rekey things - adjust numbers - cancel transactions, and the like. I began to get frustrated with the whole situation. At one point, I had a fee to pay, and rather than redo a withdrawl slip, I asked if I could pay with cash. Fine, they said. As I scrounged around in my wallet, I realized I was one dollar short.

"I'm a day late and a dollar short," I said. The idiom was lost on the teller and the manager. Umm, I don't have the four dollars I need. I only have three. I'll need to fill out another withdrawl slip, I guess. The duo looked at me strangely, as if I was asking them to stand on their heads now please and twirl. I need another withdrawl slip, please?
Just as they snapped out of their collective reverie and moved to get me a new slip, a folded-up dollar bill came flying onto the countertop from the heavens. Literally.
What the heck? I looked around . . . and who should I see standing at the next teller over but Ol' Smelly Yakker himself, with his fam. He grinned a semi-toothy grin at me and said "There you go, buddy. I'm gonna get me a new tv today."
"Wow." I said. I was flabbergasted. I felt cut to the heart. I wanted to apologize for my thoughts about him. "Thanks so much. That was very kind of you."

"Don't mention it," he said and then went back to his business at the teller.

My two tellers smiled at me and I smiled back. I felt good . . . and chastened. After I finished, I turned to say thanks again to my philanthropist but he'd gone.

I wish I could tell him thank you again. He's probably watching his favorite program on his new tv somewhere and couldn't care less, but he made a difference to me and I think that matters somehow. You never know the goodness that can come from people. You never do.