This week’s column

Orange County Reg­is­ter — North County News-Tribune; Date: May 7, 2020; Sec­tion: News; Page Num­ber: A2

Bank danc­ing for our cur­rent situation

There’s a lot to be learned from what we are going through, and I think we may take a few lessons with us. One thing I’ve learned is to walk around with a mask cov­er­ing my face like it’s the pret­ti­est acces­sory I own.

Will I always wear a mask in pub­lic? Prob­a­bly not every­where, but I think it might be worth it dur­ing cold and flu sea­son, espe­cially as I get older. Or going to places like the doctor’s office, or in large crowds.

And now I’ll have a cute selec­tion of masks to match my outfits.

Still, as com­fort­able as I’m get­ting wear­ing a mask, noth­ing pre­pared me for the expe­ri­ence of going to the bank last week. Some peo­ple might call it sur­real, or bizarre. That would be an understatement.

I’d call it apocalyptic.

Before you scold me, I was only going to the bank because I had a sig­nif­i­cant amount of cash that needed to go into my account to pay a few bills. There is no way to do that with an app on my smartphone.

When I arrived at the bank, I had my ID ready, along with the bills I had care­fully counted out. I had even put a note on the money with my account num­ber, the num­ber of each kind of bill, and the total. I adjusted my cute, cowboy-themed mask and got out of my car, ready to do business.

And yet I was not prepared.

First of all, it feels incred­i­bly weird to walk into a bank wear­ing a mask. My brain was on high alert to keep me from mak­ing a joke about it. A woman met me at the door, also wear­ing a mask. She was wear­ing a name tag, so I knew she wasn’t just another robber.

She took my name, my cell phone num­ber, and the rea­son for my visit, then sent me away, say­ing, “We’ll text you when you can come in.”

Appar­ently, they were only admit­ting one cus­tomer per rep­re­sen­ta­tive. I hung out in my car for about 5 min­utes before I got the text. I was then allowed to come in and do what felt like an elab­o­rate dance with the teller.

There was a square on the floor with “Stop” in it, about 4 feet from the counter. I had to stop on the square, tell the lovely, masked teller what I wanted to do, then approach the counter and enter my account on a pad.

Each time I stepped up, she stepped back. When she stepped for­ward, I stepped back. Again, my brain kept a steady warn­ing, “Do not joke about danc­ing. Or rob­bing the place. Or being the danc­ing bank robber!”

This got even harder to do when she asked me to push the money under the acrylic shield between us, then step away. It felt dis­tinctly like I was pay­ing ran­som. For­tu­nately, I’d counted the money correctly.

I took my receipt and left, just as two women were stand­ing out­side com­plain­ing about hav­ing to wait. I told them the wait wasn’t long, but they didn’t sound like they wanted to hear it.

It wasn’t a bad expe­ri­ence. After all, the teller sounded like she was smil­ing, even if I couldn’t see under her mask. And if she could have seen under my mask, well…I was actu­ally laughing.

Long­time Pla­cen­tia res­i­dent Gayle Car­line tracks those moments that shape her days as a wife, mom, com­puter whiz and horse­woman. E-mail her at [email protected].

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