The bank was on high alert when I arrived to cash my paycheque yesterday; they were waiting for me. The phone rang at the front desk as soon as I arrived, and the receptionist, a slightly manic male newbie, surveyed the line-up and honed in as I took my place. He nodded, said something into the receiver, and stood. Something was happening.
I began rifling through my purse for nothing, prepared to ignore him and whatever it was he wanted that didn't have to do with me cashing a cheque. Timed as predictably as a doomed one-season sitcom, he approached me, nervously. "Excuse me, Miss," he interupted in falsetto. "Are you So-and-So?" Unfortunately, I was.
His cheeks flushed. This wasn't a professional call. "Georgio says hello." He fidgeted. He was talking about the bank manager. The guy who's been wanting to impregnate me for years now. The guy with access to all my account information and can make important decisions affecting my finances. The guy who clearly has a window office, who called on reception to stall me and make sure I wouldn't leave before he had a chance to catch the elevator down to my level.
"He, uh, wanted to know what you're doing these days, if you live around here" said the newbie, knowing the line he'd crossed was a fault line, quickly becoming a chasm with no easy route back to his post at the front desk. I gave him nothing to go on, no encouragement, no help.
He became increasingly uncomfortable as I was herded closer to the tellers, stepping further from where he stood on the other side of the velveteen rope. "Well, uh, do you come here often?" Hearing himself say it, even he cringed, and his stubbly baby-face turned blotchy. He sounded like a yes-man, a gopher-newbie, totally inappropriate and unprofessional. "Yes, it's my branch," I said. I was at the front of the line now.
Three, two, one.
He sauntered through. Six feet of wool pin-stripe, cuff links and cologne, blank envelope in hand, acting casual. Very, very casual. He walked in the general direction of the head teller, waited until he was directly beside me, pivoted on one heel and stopped with a click. "Oh, helllllllllllo," he drew from his raspy throat, feigning surprise. "How nice to see you." The receptionist vanished, relieved of his duties.
"When I first met you, you had a boyfriend, right?" He went straight for the kill. "Is he still around?" I wasn't prepared for a direct attack and foolishly answered honestly. "No."
"Well, I have to get back to a meeting upstairs," he said, "but next time you come in, call me first and we'll go to Starbucks for a coffee and catch up. Take my card." He followed up with a series of questions, the kind any stranger might ask. I said something about having a boyfriend in Latin America (a white lie/major exaggeration), but he couldn't hear me through the filter of his fantasy.
Done with his nervous monologue and crucial fact-finding mission (regarding my marital status), he retreated directly to the elevator, never delivering the blank envelope, and forgetting to pretend he wasn't there just for me. Shit.
At the front of the line, it was my turn to make a transaction. I approached the smirking teller. She verified, stamped and cashed my cheque, and then asked, "Is there anything else I can help you with?" I considered it, very seriously. Someday soon, there will be.