It all started with a hunger pang…

It was approximately 3:40 when I gave in to my ever-demanding tummy and decided to vacate the office and gather grub from the 4th Avenue food carts. I also had an errand to run at the bank so I figured I could pull off a twofer and still get back to my desk within the half hour. Model of efficiency, I am. So I slipped out the building, ordered my teriyaki chicken and mandoo from Dosirak – grabbing change in the process – told them I’d be right back to pick up and made my way to the Wells Fargo around the corner to deposit some cash for a friend.

When I arrived at the bank, I was pumped there were only like three other people in line. After filling out the deposit slip, two customers had already moved forward and I took my place behind a rather shifty and very dirty white guy who reeked of not bathing. The fellow definitely caught my attention and I was actually surprised to see that his stringy tangled hair was not matted into dreads. Still, his odor bothered me and I was a bit annoyed because the tellers seemed to be working slowly on purpose in order to avoid having to help the guy. Other employees in the bank were walking around, but no one was opening a new register. The manager walked over and started watching over the tellers, and some other lady told me “We’ll be with you in a minute” and flashed me the most placating smile I’ve ever seen before walking off. To avoid frustration, I refocused my attention on the Project Mayhem reject as he mumbled to himself, and that’s when I noticed that he was wearing gloves. I started looking at the rest of his clothes and realized he was also wearing baggy black jeans, a black jacket that was way too big for him, and a black cap. He also had an eye that appeared to have been terribly blackened, perhaps by a boot.

Needless to say, my overactive imagination got the best of me as I started to think, “What would I do if dude tried to rob the bank?” As I played through scenarios in my head (most of which involved me leaping forward and locking the perpetrator into a vicious sleeper-choke), another customer left and the black-clad customer was called forward. As I took his place at the head of the line, I caught a sudden and sharp pain above my patella, a subtle reminder that I’d completely effed my knee up last weekend. Hmmmm… On second thought, if dude robbed the bank I would just chill because one bad fall and I might need knee surgery. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

I snapped out of my daydream when Mumbles suddenly started growling at the teller and appeared to reach onto the counter to grab his money. I mean, usually, I just let the teller count my money out and put it in my hand. Money was flying all in the air as he grabbed for it like he was playing jacks. The manager was just as calm as could be and the teller just looked irritated. Mumbles then turned with his money in his hands and hustled out the door, brushing past me in the process as he stuffed his money into his jacket.

The teller says to me, “Can you believe that guy?”

“What was he so mad about?” I asked as I approached the teller.

“I’m sorry, I have to close this window.”

“Wait… Did you just get robbed?!?”

Strangest part of the story: As soon as the crook left, the manager walked out behind him and locked the door. Another employee locked the other door. The lady at the next window smiled and offered to complete my deposit. The teller who got robbed stood there recalling details (i.e., “He had a gun!”, “I pushed the button.” and “He didn’t even get $500!”) Another employee escorted me out the side door when I completed my deposit. I saw no police. Nobody was scared and nobody panicked.

Afterwards, I walked back to Dosirak to pick up my teriyaki. The lady made some pleasantly corny joke about how she didn’t think I was coming back. I responded, “Sorry, the bank got robbed.” She laughed. I laughed too then told her I was serious. Her husband asked if it was the Wells Fargo, I confirmed it was. He replied, “Again?”

Truth be told, that branch was just robbed 2 weeks ago. It’s been robbed at least 3 times this year. The perpetrator didn’t get far. By the time I got back to work there were already reports that they’d tracked the bank robber to his apartment a few blocks away. By the end of rush hour he’d been detained by the authorities. The alleged gun was not recovered.

I really wish I knew what would persuade an armed man to rob a metropolitan bank with no mask and run off with less than $500 in loot. What could possibly fuel this sort of desperation? Downtown living is expensive; maybe he was short on rent. Maybe he smoked his stash and needed to pay back his drug supplier. Perhaps he’s a just a pathetic career criminal with no idea how to properly rob a bank but thought it looked easy in the movies. I don’t know. What I certainly did learn on my lunch break though was how NOT to rob a bank.

Your local correspondent,


~Mac Smiff