I used to tell myself, "If I ever rob a bank, the note I'll pass along to the teller will read, 'I dare you to refuse.'"
In those days I was disheartened at how easy bank robbing had become. Guns were being replaced by handwritten notes. Lard-ass bandits, unwilling to leave the seats of their cars, were demanding money from drive-up windows. I felt strongly that to honor the memory of the great thugs of the past, area riff-raff should offer something a tad more menacing.
Well, imagine my surprise when last week a teller did in fact say "no," but not to a crook with a wimpy note. The would-be robber had a revolver and wasn't afraid to brandish it.
Here I was, hoping some bank clerk would eventually question the legitimacy of this whole scribbled-note nonsense, and little Miss Moxie actually questioned an outlaw's willingness to pull the trigger.
Whoever you are ma'am, will you please share your DNA with the rest of this state?
The robbery last week at Cherokee State Bank in St. Paul was a real throwback to the Dillinger days. The robber not only had a made in the U.S.A. handgun at the ready but even donned the old-fashioned bandanna to hide his face. You almost expected running boards on his getaway car.
These are not supposed to be the ones a teller turns down. These are the hard-core pros who study Dillinger's playbook.
But our hardcore robber wannabe turned tail and ran — no doubt thinking, all the way out the door, "What the fuck just happened?"
Turns out the gun was just for show. He was planning to bring a clever note, perhaps, but at the last minute must have chosen to look old-school.
I sure wish I knew when this country began the grand shift from guns to paper. In the 1930s a note would have gotten a thief a hearty laugh and nothing more. Somewhere along the line things changed. Banks must have decided everyone would be a whole lot safer if word got out that weapons weren't necessary anymore. I bet the robbers were delighted to hear that news. Whatever joy the old-time gangsters felt learning that St. Paul police would leave them alone as long as they robbed outside the city, the modern thieves must have been equally thrilled hearing banks would now gleefully reward them if the hoodlums just put it all in writing.
Now their guns could be left at home, or better yet, sold to Republicans. Decent penmanship would be all that was required from here on out. The painfully shy and socially inept could rob banks just like the tough guys.
I imagine some tellers had a hard time sleeping at night. Some evenings they had to go to bed saying to themselves, "A note. All the loser had was a lousy note. I haven't used a note since Mom stopped writing them for me in grade school."
The Palm Beach Post reported on yet another robbery by a man cops have dubbed the "Withdrawal Bandit." According to the newspaper, "This bandit doesn't come in guns blazing. Instead he grabs a blank withdrawal slip and steps up to a window. Then he informs the teller he's 'making a withdrawal.' This baffles bank employees, who often wait for an ID or a filled-out slip." At the National City bank in West Palm Beach the robber had to clarify: "This is somewhat like a robbery."
Somewhat like a robbery, indeed.
The world in which we live us a strange place indeed.
See you tomorrow.