Monday, September 7, 2009

Bad Samaritan

I would rather ask someone for a kidney than ask them to help me move or take me to or from the airport! Would you agree? So last Tuesday when I returned to LA I opted to take public transportation back to my apartment.

LA is a car city, so public transit is a little bit of a scary thing here; I'd dipped my toe in previously with the Flyaway buses. They're nice charter buses, with the crazy upholstery that looks like movie theatre carpet, that go from the airport to three bus stations across the city. I'd taken a cab from and been picked up at the station here in the Valley, but discovered that if I took the Flyaway bus to Union Station, downtown, I could then get on the Red Line subway which ends up a few blocks from my apartment. My beau was none to happy about this plan, but I survived and even derived a pathetic sense of accomplishment from the experience.

Sorry to disappoint, but the subway is not where my story takes place, it's just part of the exposition and dramatically added to my travel weary state. I must note though, that 80% of the people with whom I rode the subway were lazy bastards! I could not believe that when we poured off the train at our final destination most people stood in line to ride the escalator up to the street. They stood in line and then just stood on their step once on it. Of course some folks had baby strollers or bikes, but for the most part, it was a sad snap shot of our society. I opted to wait with my 48.5 pound suitcase for the line to disappear.

I digress, while in Ohio I held a yard sale and had a nice bundle of cash on me; on my way from the train station to my apartment, I was walking past my bank. Even though I'd been up since 3 a.m. LA time, reeked of airplane and red line and was tugging my big ole suitcase behind me, I decided to deposit my cash. I thought perhaps my luggage would cause concern, but it did not. It was around 4 p.m. so the bank was pretty busy; after bumbling through my things I stepped up to the next available window and slid my cash under the glass.

I immediately noticed a wallet on the counter to my left. A sense of urgency propelled through me as I picked it up, saying "Oh-no! Someone's wallet!" My teller said it belonged to the gentleman who had just been there; we both looked toward the door as he exited. *GASP* "Will you watch my stuff?" I asked, speaking of my suitcase and carry-on that sat in front of her window. I literally dashed across the bank and out the door, where the man was getting in the backseat of a white car, with two other men in the front. "Here, you forgot your wallet!" I immediately noted that he wasn't too terribly grateful as they drove away.

I walked back into the bank to find a puzzled look on the tellers face, "where did you go, the man is right there." WHAT?! The man she pointed to, who was by the door when I ran past, continued to linger there aimlessly. Instead of springing to action my teller preceded to tell the other two tellers what had happened, as if we were in a bloody beauty salon instead of a quazi-theft situation. Time seemed to freeze and I just stood there mortified.

Was I in trouble? ... is my transaction complete? Why the hell did that guy let me run past him with his wallet in my hand? Why didn't my stupid teller bang on the glass or yell or something when I took off?! Logically I wouldn't have run to someone still in the bank! "I gave you a funny look," she said. A funny look? Are you freaking kidding me? I can not describe or explain, even to myself, why I seemed to think it was of critical importance that the wallet was returned immediately. It was just an instinct that I now regret. But I do know there was enough time that the teller could have and should have had me give the wallet to her.

Eventually the rightful owner meandered over to the window, where I was profusely apologizing to the teller and then to him. His response? "Don't worry about it." What? I felt like I was the only one actually processing what had just happened, as the tellers continued to pass the story like the latest gossip in a junior high. I was the only one with sense enough to say, "Hold on, we all saw that man leave this bank. Who was he? Which window was he using?"

Unfortunately he wasn't an actual customer and they didn't have his name. By this time a manager appeared and my teller proceeded to tell him what happened while the wallet owner went back to a desk by the door and sat with his head in his hand. Very strange. I stood there still uncertain of my fate, then realized there was a deposit slip on the right side of my window. "Is this mine?" I picked it up and my teller said, "No, it's his."

I tried to understand: his wallet was to my left, his deposit slip was to my right and he was by the door...? The man came back to the window, where I suggested we call the cops. "I can describe the guy and the car... and aren't there security cameras to see his face?" But the man didn't want the cops involved. It was clear he was either on some sort of illegal substance or had been kicked in the head by a horse as a child.

The manager took him off to discuss things and my teller completed my transaction and told me not to feel guilty. Guilt was most certainly among my emotions, along with complete and utter befuddlement. As I slinked out of the bank with my huge suitcase and embarrassed face, I again apologized and again the man said not to worry about it.

I looked over my shoulder as I walked to my apartment; I would not have been at all surprised if he'd come after me in anger, but he was devoid of emotion. What on earth had just happened? I tried to make sense of my urgency to get the wallet to its owner and my tellers lack of action or authority. I wondered what the hell was wrong with the wallet owner, how much money he had just lost, thanks to me, and if the bank would replace it.

Maybe if I wasn't so afraid to ask for a ride from the airport this wouldn't have happened. Maybe if I hadn't waited for all those lazy people without fifty pound suitcases to get on the escalator before me, I wouldn't have been there in that moment. Perhaps this was the mans wake-up call to get his act together. Or, maybe the asshole in the white car really needed the money. I guess we'll never know...

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