8.15.2003

I feel like telling a story. Stories are our best possessions and diminish not as they are shared. In fact, that's how they grow.

This story is true. You cannot beat the truth when it comes to stories. No imagination has the power of reality. Believe me, you'll know when I'm making something up.

In 1993, I was waiting in line with a friend of mine at a bank as she was withdrawing money. This was just before the advent of ATMs and people still had to visit a human being called a teller. While you waited in line to speak to the teller, there was a table with several forms and a couple pens; sometimes there was even a cheap calculator. There were all sorts of forms: one for withdrawals, another for deposits, etc. While you waited in line, the client of the bank (my friend, in this instance) would fill out a little slip for a withdrawal or deposit or whatever and have it ready to present to the teller when you got the end of the line.

My friend started to fill out her little form while we were in line. Bored, I took out one of the slips and wrote on the back: "This is a hold up." I slipped the piece of paper back into the pile and as she finished, our conversation resumed. I didn't mention what I had done until we left the bank. She wasn't happy but thought it was funny in the end.

Two days later.

My friend starts yelling at me upon alighting her eyes on my face.

"You idiot!"

"What?"

"An old man took out the slip you wrote on and used it for his transaction. He presented it to the teller when he reached the desk. The teller flipped it over to stamp it and looked at the old man again. Appraently, the teller decided that this old man was not holding up the bank.

The teller showed the old man what was written on the flipside of the slip and he almost had a heart attack. He thought he was part of some scheme to rob the bank. The bank people calmed him down and smoothed everything out with him. They reviewed their security cameras and saw who did it, who they were with and tracked down who's account was used. They didn't know you but they found me. I had to go to the bank yesterday and they made me promise that you'd write a letter of apology."

"What?! No way!"

"You write that letter of apology."

"Uh. Ok."

" Tomorrow."

"Ok."

That letter has yet to be written.