Why is it the shortest queue always seems to take the longest time? There’s always someone, usually the one right in front of you when you think you’re nearly there, who will either have a dozen or more different transactions to do, or will insist on conducting a long conversation with the teller about anything and everything going on in their lives, whether connected to banking or not.
The one in front of me today seems to be a mixture of both those annoying types of people. The teller – whose name is Julie, I can just make out her name badge – has that look of strained patience on her face as the customer rabbits on about her stingy ex-husband while she roots around in her voluminous handbag for her debit card. I couldn’t stand this kind of job, where you have to be cheery and polite to everyone, no matter how hard you might privately want to smash them in the face, or tell them how stupid and/or boring they are.
My attention is diverted from the two of them by the sound of raised voices coming from behind me. I look around. What was a short queue is now quite a lengthy one. And a few impatiently shuffling customers away from me are two young men squaring up to each other and looking like they’re about to start trading punches.
From what I can make out, their argument seems to be over a girl. Or, more specifically, over which of them this girl likes best. Lucky girl to have two such tall and handsome men fight over her.
Their row grows more heated and the volume increases. Almost everyone in the bank is looking at them, some seeming shocked and some amused at the commotion. One of the security guards has moved over from his position by the door to try and calm the situation down. He’s not having much luck. If anything, his interference seems to be inflaming their tempers.
I hear a cough in front of me. The annoying woman has moved off and Julie is smiling and beckoning me forward.
“Sorry,” I say. “I was a bit distracted.” I nod my head to the scene behind me. “It’s all happening here, isn’t it?”
Julie nods and sighs with a rueful smile. “Yes,” she says. “I think it’s definitely going to be one of those days.”
I smile back sympathetically, feeling a little guilty that I’m about to make her day even worse.
The argument behind me is now deafening out all other noise in the bank. I briefly look back over my shoulder and see that the second security guard has now abandoned his post and has joined his partner. Both guards have their backs to me. I turn back to Julie and lean a little closer in to the partition. She leans forward on her side too. And that’s when she sees the gun I’m now grasping inside my jacket.
“I’m really sorry about this,” I say in a quiet voice that only she can hear. Her eyes move from the gun to my face, then past my shoulder towards the guards. But they still have all their attention on those handsome boys.
“Don’t even think about calling out,” I say. “And please keep your hands where I can see them.” I push a black cloth bag through the slot. “Would you mind filling that up with bills. $50s and $100s please. Right up to the top.”
With trembling hands Julie does as she’s told. Poor thing. She’ll probably need counselling after this. No doubt they’re trained to watch out for dodgy-looking suspicious characters. Not grey-haired 75-year-old ladies with glasses and a walking stick. I don’t actually need the stick for walking, but it’s a good cover. Not to mention a handy weapon. I would never dream of shooting anyone. The gun isn’t real anyway. Not that dear Julie knows that of course. But I’ve cracked a few bones, and backsides, with the stick over the years.
At last, Julie finishes stuffing the bag and ties it up. Just in time too, as the guards have threatened to handcuff the men and lock them in the security office to calm down. That threat shuts them up.
I take back the bag and thank Julie warmly. “Please keep your hands on the counter until after I’m gone,” I say. “I have friends watching who are armed too.” Her eyes, rather comically, flit from side-to-side, as she tries to work out who those friends might be. They don’t exist of course, those friends. But now, Julie won’t trust anyone. Ever again probably.
I shuffle out of the bank, behind one of the handsome young men. The other one follows me out. We all head in the same direction, but not walking together, until we’re around the corner. Then we jump into our car (OK, so it’s only been ours for a few hours, but finders keepers right?) and we put as much distance between us and the bank as possible. Police cars screech past us on the way, heading in the opposite direction.
“Well done boys,” I say. “You nearly had even me convinced you hated each other’s guts.”
“We do Grandma,” laughed the younger one, nudging his older brother playfully in the ribs. He got a mock slap on the arm in return.
My grandsons have been a breath of fresh air for me. I was a lonely old woman, just about surviving on my pension, until they came to stay with me a few years back. Now I feel about 20 years younger. I’m certainly a lot better off financially! And I’m no longer lonely.
Seventy-two years of being a goody-two-shoes didn’t get me anywhere. No-one gets hurt doing what we do. Banks can afford to lose a few thousand dollars every now and then. OK, today was more like fifty thousand. But they’ll survive. And so will we, quite happily.
The boys start arguing over where we should head to next. Simon wants to try Chicago, Daniel favours the warmer climes of Florida. And me? Well, I’ve always fancied trying my luck in Nevada. A harmless-looking old granny like me could really clean up there.
Viva Las Vegas!