Monday, September 20, 2010

Time Is Money If You Know What Time It Is

There is one bank I use where I almost always go through their drive-through bay. Over time, I've gotten to know the three men who are usually in the booth. An older gentleman, (who is a native Washingtonian,) and I have discussions about "the old D.C." When people slept in parks to escape the heat, or the trolley cars, trying to make a comeback as part of the 11th Street bridge project. There is a young man in dreads with the name of a major character from the tv series, "The Wire." He shares the name, but lacks the violence, being very sweet-natured, and then there's a young man from Africa who upon meeting me for the first time swore I would never remember his name, and the next time I saw him did remember, and he said, "I was sure you wouldn't."

During this past year I've noted that the clock in their booth doesn't work. At first I jokingly said I was going to buy batteries for it, but over time they told me they had fiddled with it, and it wasn't a question of batteries but "just not working." Two weeks ago, I said to the man from Africa, "Doesn't it drive you nuts that you look at the wall and it's always 7 o'clock?" He said, "That clock has it's uses. I can use it's reflection to see who's behind you, and if someone is trying to walk up to the booth." I asserted, "I am buying you a clock!" He laughed and said, "Do it and we'll hang it with gratitude!"

This weekend, instead of going to the bank first, I drove to a Target and bought a clock with big black numbers (easy to read.) The clock was only $10.00-- but the batteries were $8.00. Once I got out to my car, I had to use a key to unscrew these Phillips head screws securing the clock to the cardboard packaging and me cursing the Chinese. The new Chinese water torture. Merchandising torture. Chairman Mao proclaiming against the weak Imperialist paper tigers.

While I was waiting in line at the bank, I took a picture of the car in front of me with it's back window loaded with clouds. I felt like it was my blogging friend Reya saying, "Nothing to worry about. Waiting is good!" (She's know for her cloud photographs.) When I finally got to the window, the money drawer slid out, and I put in the clock and my check. Mr. Nigeria was at the window. He started laughing and said, "Is this for real?" I told him, "Ab-so-lutely," and he replied, "...but I was joking!" I said, "I wasn't. I've talked to all three of you and want you to have a clock while you work in that booth."

He was waving his hands around at this point, not quite knowing what to say, but very formally did say "I do not know how the ___Bank can ever repay you for this kindness." I wanted to say, "With large unmarked bills," or "...add some more zeros to that check."

I shook my head and said, "No need. This is to make your work day easier. In the end...

... The Clock Always Wins"

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Blogger Cyndy said...

That's great! It's so much fun giving people things when they don't expect it. I can imagine them looking at their new clock for the next month or so and thinking "Wow, look what time it is!" Or at least that's what I'd be doing.

When we were clearing out our addition in preparation for construction we didn't have room in the rental house for Doug's rather large schefflera so we offered it and a dracena to the Mexican restaurant up the street because they seemed to enjoy taking care of their small potted forest. They were happy to get them and both plants have really grown over the past five years. They're both about eight feet tall now!

8:15 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Cyndy: I'm a big believer in passing things on while I'm still here (having emptied out many an estate house.) Just yesterday, in a bout of idleness, I went through a bedroom bureau and got rid of things from each drawer, including the eyeglasses of a bunch of dead people, cosmetic bags, and clothes. It would be fun to go to your Mexican restaurant and see your plants thriving.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Merujo said...

That was incredibly cool of you. Not quite the same thing, but when I lived in Moscow, I always brought treats and visually appealing magazines like National Geographic to my counterparts at different government customs offices. Usually, these folks were stuck all day in airport warehouses and truck depots, trapped in dark, dingy spaces far from the city.

After my first care package delivery, I started seeing pages from National Geographic up in different offices, hung like art. And they'd all carefully dole out the candy I brought like it was made of diamonds. And it opened up a whole new world of warmth - conversations and tea and sharing of family photos. I missed them so much when it was finally time for me to return to the 'States.

5:17 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...


I've done stuff like this for ages. I am definitely "the employee who talks to the ladies with the cleaning carts."

Here's my latest story. I was in Whole Foods on Friday and the woman in front of me was yapping on her cell the whole time during checkout...a real pet peeve of mine..complete disregard for the salesperson. She was saying some bizzare shit, too. "The President is supposed to show up, but if he does, then we can't have port-a-johns." After she was finished, I told the girl that I hated people using cell phones during a business transaction, and you could tell she was steaming...she really blew. Just...anger. I made a silly smile and said, "Come" And she did. I told her, "Using your good energy toward that woman is a waste of your time." We talked along those lines for a little more and at the end she blessed me.

Trust me. Your magazines and candy and all the other little things people take so much for granted? It can totally make someone's day, week, month and year. I'm a big believer in what you did. And I was at that bank on Friday and they told me, "Everyone appreciates that clock." The gift that keeps on ticking (hopefully) and giving.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

I so wish the one teller was named "Omar", who would say "it ain't about the money, yo" every time you stopped in.

3:58 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Phil: His name IS Omar. I swear to God!. I told him, "You're the "good" Omar."

4:27 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Omar was good!

He didn't kill anyone who wasn't in "the game", and even took his grandmama to church every Sunday (until Barksdale shot her Sunday hat off).

9:03 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Phil: I had a HUGE crush on Omar. I told the bank Omar that Baltimore Omar was like an urban Robin Hood. He's acting right now on the HBO show Boardwalk Empire. He's distilling illegal cheap booze.

I loved when he would enter a neighborhood, and all the little children would be running the streets yelling, "Omar comin'. Omar comin."

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Mike Lowrey said...

Awesome, Cube you're a cool person for doing that. Seems rare to find folks who take the time to do nice things.

But I am kind of mad that $10 buys a clock that some Asian kid put in sweat to build but the darn batteries just to make it run is basically the same price!

Seems wrong, lol.
It's like buying a plane ticket for $199 and the cost to bring 3 bags along cost $125.

Funny reading this today because I forgot my wristwatch at home and I have no clue what time it is. Not to mention the clock on my wall in my office hasn't worked in months because it needs a new C battery.

12:25 PM  

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