“Cashing the Checks”
by Erin Waugh, 01/28/2020
Took my father to the bank to cash his check. Actually, we were cashing TWO checks, one for my mom and one for my dad. If you’re reading this, you are a creature of the internet, and you will recall that ATM’s were introduced before Elvis’s passed-out belly had to be peeled off his typewriter, but none of that risky ATM digital tomfoolery for my folks. Checks must be CASHED. At BANKS. In PERSON. The checks had been delivered in the mail, another ancient ritual wherein a government agency hoists up a pony, puts a check in its teeth, and then slaps it on the flank. (“Slapping the flank” has promoted many an intern.)
Now keep in mind that right now my father cannot walk without great assistance. So cashing checks in person requires a college degree in Old People Transport. With a properly-aimed squirt of WD-40 and a backhoe, I got him in my car. I did not let him drive. I’m sensitive like that.
I drove us to the bank. My father DID allow us to drive-through instead of having to waddle and lurch into the lobby, although drive-through is only available during banker’s hours (approximately 11:00am – 12:30pm), so we collected our Go Bags and left the house after Second Breakfast. Both checks were signed by both my parents, and I had possession of both of my parents’ drivers licenses, one of which they might actually use some day. I pulled into the open bank lane, unbuckled my seatbelt, performed several yoga poses so I could reach the container, and popped the checks and the licenses into the vacuum tube. The tube shot up through a Willy Wonka life’s lesson and into the hands of a bank teller.
I rolled my window down in the cold to be polite. “Hello!” I smiled through the distance and the Plexi-glass. The teller smiled back, examined the documents, verified that she understood what I wanted, and said, “I’ll have this ready for you in just a minute.” I smiled back, rolled up my window since my politeness was done, and watched a crow pick Wendy’s fries out of a dumpster.
“Hello?” I heard the bank talking again. I rolled down my window, and turned on the charm. “Yes?” The teller looked down and the checks she was fingering and inquired: “Do you have either of them with you?” She couldn’t see my father in the passenger seat as he was tiny and cold and blocked from the teller’s view by my ego. I tapped him on the shoulder. “Gernard, she needs to know you’re here.”
My dad leaned forward and raised his right hand. It was limited in its reach by the handcuff that restricted both wrists. He sort of clanked and waved with both hands because he is polite all the time. He couldn’t really articulate his presence, as the duct tape over his mouth precluded decent conversation. The seat belt kept him from leaping out of the car altogether, as it was additionally secured by padlocks and fire ants.
“Okay, thanks, Gernard. Nice to see you again,” the teller smiled. Two minutes later I counted the money out loud to him, cursing because the bills were too clean and I had run out of spit.
True fact: every paragraph is accurate except one.
From “This Gernard” by Erin Waugh 28 January 2020