Considering I coined the phrase, “I’m not the sharpest Crayon in the box,” my blunder at Union Bank shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anybody, especially me. But early Thursday morning, when my husband said that Douglas McCallister’s deposit was missing, you could’ve knocked me over with a check.
The check I was supposed to have deposited the night before.
My banking blunder began innocently enough. I was over at my friend Laura’s house sipping Thai tea after our Thai meal when her father came hurtling through the door. Where Douglas McCallister’s concerned, hurtling is the only word for it. He is a rip-snorting, boot-wearing, whiskery mountain man, and if I am to be honest, sometimes his machomismo scares the tar out of me.
After breaking up Laura and my heart-to-heart with talk of flesh-eating, parasitic diseases and the proper disposal of deceased animals in suburbia, Doug asked me a favor, “Do you mind swinging by Union Bank on your way home and dropping this in the deposit box?”
Putting on my glasses, I peered at the item he was waving. Something white? A surrendering flag? Ah-ha! An envelope!
Well, that sure seemed innocuous enough. It wasn’t like animal body parts or anything; I could handle that.
“Sure,” I said, taking a sip of tea.
“Now, the deposit box will be right near the drive-up window,” Douglas McCallister explained. “Okay? Just drop it in there.”
I nodded, but inside I was thinking, Buddy, I don’t need a diagram.
Saying goodbye to Laura, I drove 20 minutes back home, but first I pulled over at Union Bank like a good little girl.
Douglas McCallister’s parting words rang in my ears as I circled the Jeep around the gray-brick building: “Be sure you drop it off at Union Bank, not First National or anything.”
How sweet of him to worry! I thought. He must not know how responsible I am! Why, I was the vice-president of my senior class! Okay, so there was like 18 of us. But that still shows my maturity…right?
The cocky grin slowly melted off my face as my eyes continually strained for the outdoor deposit box and saw nothing.
Where in the world am I supposed to put this envelope? Is the deposit box in special ops camo or something? Seriously. Do I look like Laura Croft?
Incensed, I illegally drove up the one-way street (everything was very deserted, Mom) and pulled back into the bank’s parking lot. As I started poking and prodding various orifices of the bank building, I began to fear two things:
Fear Number One: That I would set off some silent alarm, and the police -- or “the law” as it is known ’round here -- would come with sirens wailing and barricade my vehicle. Since the chief of police and I aren’t exactly “buddy-buddy,” this could be a problem. (Hey, I did not care that the road below us was flooded. I did not want the LPD blocking it and inhibiting customers from coming to our store. If said customers then went on to drive their vehicles into that lake, I figured it was their own short-sighted fault.)
Fear Number Two: That I would be mugged. Since I have a highly overactive imagination and penchant for scanning local offender lists like they’re winning lottery numbers, I could just imagine all kinds of creepy men (and women--equal opportunity, here) coming out of the woodwork, just waiting to steal Douglas McCallister’s business check for Log Home Services.
Giving up on finding the stupid deposit box, I called my husband.
“Do you know where the deposit box is outside Union Bank?” I asked.
“No.” He paused, then said, “Did you try the ATM?”
I pulled up to the ATM. Slamming the Jeep into Park, I cracked open the door and poked my fingers into the ATM’s various and sundry openings.
“See anything?” Randy asked.
“Hmmm, no….Hey, wait! This right here says…it says de-deposit!” I shakily got the envelope out of my coat pocket and jammed it into the deposit slit. No cigar. Mary Poppins couldn’t have made it work.
I searched the ATM while still on the phone with my husband. “Okay!” I hollered. “I see something that says envelopes. And--and it’s got an opening!” Crunching the phone between my ear and shoulder, I pulled open the envelope flap. I saw there were some white envelopes already in there, but I couldn’t fit the one in my hand among them unless I pried open the plastic flap and shoved some things around.
“I'm gonna hafta letch ya go,” I told Randy.
“You sure you got it?”
“Hmmmhhmmm,” I said.
The call came at 7:45 a.m. I do not like talking on the phone before noon, and only if the person’s appendage is missing. And they think it’s in my backyard.
Assuming it was our cashier trying to get into the store, I called Randy and asked if Jana had made it.
“Yeah, why?” he asked.
“I got a call from a 931 number. I thought it might be her.”
“Oh,” Randy said, “that was probably Doug. He tried calling me, too.”
A shiver raced up my spine. “What-what did he want?” I asked.
“Oh, I didn’t talk to him. I was unloading this truck. Gotta go. I’ve gotta count some pallets.”
Padding into the kitchen, I poured myself some cereal. Each bite tasted like sand. When Randy came banging through the apartment door, I took one look at his face and my spoon plopped into the bowl.
He said, “The bank never got Doug's deposit.”
“What?!” I screeched.
“The bank nev--”
“I know that! I mean, what happened?”
He shrugged. “You’re the one who dropped it off. Where’d you put it?”
“In the ATM like you said!” I wailed.
“But where in the ATM?”
“In with the envelopes--near where it said ‘Deposit’!”
My husband’s face paled. Dragging a hand back through his hair, he whispered, “I’ve gotta run to the bank.”
“I’m going with you!” I cried. “Lemme get my shoes!”
One minute later, my husband and I were out the door, in the Jeep, and roaring down the road.
Lurching into Union Bank’s parking lot, Randy circled the building and said, “Okay, in the ATM, right?”
I bit my lip and nodded.
He pulled up to the ATM just as I had the night before.
“See how it says ‘Deposit’?” I whispered. “Wouldn’t you think that’s a deposit box?”
“But that’s not where you put it, right?”
“You put it over where it says ‘Envelopes,’ right?”
“Honey, that’s where you get envelopes--not where you put them!”
“Then how come it was so hard to put it in there! I figured they did that so people wouldn’t get it out!”
Randy didn’t say anything, just opened his door and flipped open the envelope flap.
“It wasn’t that easy last night,” I murmured.
Once again, Randy didn’t say anything. Scooping out the stack of envelopes, he set them on his lap. “Well, Doug’s check’s gone,” he said.
“No it’s not!” I wailed. “Just check!”
Randy sifted through the stack. One, two, three, four….Then -- at the very, very bottom -- was an envelope marked with Douglas McCallister’s spidery script.
I began to sob in relief.
Randy said, “I’ve gotta call Doug.”
“No! Just wait ’til it’s in the bank!” I blubbered. “Maybe he’ll think it was there the whole night!”
My husband just looked at me with one eyebrow raised, then something caught my watery eyes. A woman was running out of the bank. Running right toward the ATM. Since she was wearing a suit and not a ski mask, I figured she wasn’t a robber.
“I think she might be looking for this,” I said, holding up the envelope and smiling weakly.
Randy nodded and got out of the Jeep. I was too busy writhing with mortification to watch their exchange, but when Randy got back in, he explained that she was indeed on a desperate search for that AWOL Log Home Services deposit.
“Don’t call Doug,” I begged, hands clasped in supplication. “Please, honey…puleese don’t call him. He’s ’bout as compassionate as a porcupine. ”
Right then the phone rang. Douglas McCallister.
My husband winked at me, then flipped open his phone. Wiping my tears on a Union Bank envelope, I listened to him explain in his special “Women, what can we do with them?” voice.
In return I gave Randy my “Scary Wife” eyes, but the snot dripping off my nose seemed to dampen the effect.
Clapping his phone shut, Randy started to laugh. I punched his arm.
“How can you laugh at a time like this?” I railed. “I almost cost that man his business!”
“Well, Doug was laughing.”
“He was?” My voice came out like a squeak.
Randy nodded. “Oh yes, he was. He was laughing so hard, I thought he was going to hurt himself. I'm pretty sure you just made his day.”
Honking my nose in another Union Bank envelope, I decided the next time I saw that rip-snorting, boot-wearing, whiskery mountain man, I’d wrap my arms around his machomismo self and give him a big bear hug.
Well, I might if he doesn’t spread this story to his friends.