Friday, January 28, 2005




I never met her, but Scott showed me a picture. A pallid, thin faced suburban girl with dead eyes, Janis did nothing for me. She wore her hair long and parted in the middle, a very '70's look.

Ted Bundy would have been attracted to her.

"Nice looking girl," I said.

appears here




Veldon was moved, temporarily, to the noon to 8 time slot. They needed someone to do an evening run. He asked me to pick up his girlfriend, Lorna, and drive her to work while he was working the late shift.

"You're only about a mile away, right?" he asked.

"Right," I said.

A mile in city traffic during morning rush hour would take at least 15 minutes. Then another 10-15 minutes back across town to pick up the interstate.

"No problem," I said.

It hadn't been made clear to me that the two cousins were a part of the deal as well. The three were rarely ready when I pulled up to the house. I was leaving a half hour earlier than usual and was coming in late almost every day. Mr. Frank T was starting to notice.

"Our boss doesn't care if we come in late," Lorna said. "She's Veldon's aunt. Didn't you know that?"

"No," I said. "I didn't."

Veldon here
and here




Early 40's. Short and skinny, in a wiry white trash way. Thick glasses, slicked back black hair. His one facial expression was a glare. He wore light colors: pinks, yellows, baby blues. It added to his malevolent air.

Vocabulary even more limited than Bill the Mutterer's

"Fuck you."

"Fuck all you guys."

"Fuck this."

"Fuck this job."

"Fuck, fuck."

I gave Bob a wide berth.

full story here




A cheerful, blustery fellow in his 60's. Retired from the Navy, retired from one career, hired at the bank as part of the unspoken Scottish connection.

Frank's frame of reference was neatly divided between his Navy experience and his heritage.

"When did that fellow come on board?" he would ask whenever someone did something particularly stupid, shaking his head in disbelief.

"Where's Jim? In the head again? Bah? Now when I was in the Navy, we moved our bowels first thing in the morning or we didn't move them at all. Jim was never in the service, was he? Bah"

Jim found an out of the way gourmet bakery that made scones. He brought them to Frank in an attempt to win favor, or at least to deflect Frank's wrath. Frank ate the scones, but he never let up on Jim.

And, being a Scot, he looked out for Archie.

"Archie, come into my office, take a break. Don't worry, I'll have Jim do your afternoon rounds. Scone?"

full story here




I looked him up one day in the Pro Football Encyclopedia. He wasn't in there.

appears here




Bill was another messenger who refused to help sort the mail. When not driving, he stood in the corner of the mailroom farthest from the work area, faced the wall, and muttered. The muttering was on the order of: "Told him, told him, fucking motherfuckers. Fuckers can't tell me fuck fuck fuck...."

Bill's getup was another cause for concern. He dressed like a train engineer on the skids. Blue cap, striped shirt, overalls, all filthy. He had red hair which stuck out from under his cap in greasy clumps.

He'd been working there longer than everyone but Archie; no one knew if he'd been like that when he was hired, or if driving for the bank had done it to him.

from here




Charlie was a winter person. Knit cap, big black beard, long coat, work boots, slouched against the side of the building, smoking, avoiding Jim's mailroom duties, Charlie was in his element.

Even though I was there through a few summers, I can't remember Charlie without hat, coat and boots. I have no summer picture of him.

One afternoon Charlie motioned to me as I was leaving for the day.

"What is it?" I asked.

"I know you are at that college. Do you think their library would have this book?" He gave me a piece of paper. THE LIVES OF A CELL was carefully printed out.

"Yes, they probably would," I said.

"Can you get it for me?" Charlie asked.

"Probably," I said.

"OK," I said. I was a little concerned Charlie wouldn't return it, or lose it, and I would be on the hook, but my worries were unfounded.

appeared here

Thursday, January 27, 2005




Very black. Shaved head. Middle linebacker solid. His girlfriend, Lorna, and her two cousins, also worked at the bank, in bookkeeping. This caused me some aggravation later in my employ.

Veldon was a fight fan. I spent more than a few Friday nights at his apartment watching boxing on HBO. Veldon and his friends (a spectacularly scary crew) would go on prolonged semi- secretive rituals of cooking up and smoking cocaine, only paying cursory attention to the fights.

Veldon was eventually didmissed from the bank for depositing some blank pieces of paper into the bank's ATM along with a deposit slip that claimed $200. The ruse actually worked just long enough for him to withdraw the money and get caught.

The last I heard he was married to Lorna, selling insurance, and the proud father of one "little Veldon."

from here




From preppie to frat boy to college dropout, from high school athlete to co-ed softball player, from weekend drinker and joint smoker to full blown drunk and pothead, Scott was on a classic downward spiral and he was the last person to see it.

Even though he was a few years younger that I was, and even though we had grown up not more than ten miles from each other, Scott seemed to think that I was some rube in from the hinterlands who needed his wisdom in order to get by.

Some of what Scott told me:

"The blacks get the best pot. That's why I hang out with Veldon and Charlie. They get me dynamite shit, and they never rip me off."

"A Camaro's the best car. Chicks love Camaros. You never have to worry about getting laid if you have a Camaro. And they're fast, too."

"I buy cartons of cigarettes and keep the extra packs in the refrigerator. That way they don't get stale."

"My girlfriend, Janis, she's all right, but she wants to get engaged."

"I don't want to get engaged because right now, I go out with Janis on Saturdays and I can do what I want on Fridays, but if I got engaged I would have to go out with Janis on Fridays too."

"But then again, Janis doesn't really want to do a lot of fucking until we get engaged, so if I did get engaged, I would probably get laid more."

"Where I went to college, out west, they don't have TastyCakes. I had my mom mail them to me, but they weren't as good. I guess they got stale in the mail."

"Did you ever notice how, except for the blacks, that a lot of the people working at the bank are Scottish? I think that's why they hired me, because of my name."

"My mother, she has the best job. She works for a company that owns the song Happy Birthday. And all day long, all they do is open checks from people that have used that song and have to pay them. I could get a job over there right now, but it might be a little too weird, working with my mother all day."

"People around here think Bud is the best beer, but the best beer is Coors."

story here

Wednesday, January 26, 2005




Jim G was the supervisor of the mailroom. He was technically in charge of Archie, but no one had the heart to inform Archie. Archie thought he was in charge of Jim. This was good for one or two absurd confrontations a day.

Jim was tall, with a mop of greasy black hair and an absurd walrus mustache. He had bad skin and a pot belly, the inevitable result of many years of snack machine food.

Jim was a chortler. He had one line: "That's what she said" which he would interject into any conversation and follow up with his horrible flesh crawling chortle.

Messenger: "Boy, it's hot in here."
Jim: "That's what she said." Chortle.

Messenger: "Sorry I'm late."
Jim: "That's what she said." Chortle.

Me: "I'm going to kill, you jerkoff."
Jim: "That's what she said." Chortle.

I'm not sure I said that, but I did spend many sleepless nights, tossing and turning, wondering how I could kill Jim and get away with it.

Imagine my dismay when years later, Jim's unforgettable voice and chortle surfaced on network tv and radio as the pickle waving, pickle power, idiotic Cleveland Browns fan of Visa check card commercials. He is actually getting paid to annoy people, nationally.

There is no justice.

seen here




Archie was in his mid-eighties when I met him. He was a veteran of World War I, a Scot who'd marched to battle with kilt and dirk. He had been kept on at the bank, nearly two decades after traditional retirement age, because of his Scottish heritage and the Scottish culture that permeated the bank.

"The owner's a Stuart, after all," I once heard someone say.

Or maybe he said Stewart, I couldn't know. What's more, I didn't know if Stuart/Stewart was a name, a clan, or something else entirely. I didn't even know that people could own banks; I thought it was just faceless corporations.

Archie was almost decrepit, but not entirely. He had the energy to cadge enough help from the mailroomers and messengers to get by. A lot of people helped him out and covered for him. He was still employed there when I departed some years later.

cameo appearance

Tuesday, January 25, 2005




Had the look of an aging black radical trying to make his way in the straight world. Short hair, goatee, glasses, scowl.

I only saw him the once.

from here




John was a tall, lean, seemingly angry black man. His head bobbed on his long neck; he gave the appearance of a cobra about to strike. Don was deathly afraid of John and rarely asked him to do anything.

John spent most of his time in the coffee shop across the street from the back of the bank. He usually took a window seat and stared at Don as he sipped his coffee.

bit part




Don was in charge of shipping and receiving at the bank. Had an office but spent almost all of his time outside on the loading dock ramp, smoking furiously and scanning the highway for incoming deliveries.

Slight frame, thinning, receding black hair, short-sleeved white shirts, pocket protector, clip-on tie, polyester pants, shiny black shoes.

John was his assistant.





A gangly, goofy kid, a shambler, with a pronounced Adam's apple. I was one of many who made his high school life more miserable than it need have been. His father returned the favor some years later, making my tenure at the Mid-State Bank equally miserable.

story here




A funereal fellow. Tall, thin, craggy, bony hands, gray hair, gray suit, even gray eyes, for all I can remember.

Possessed of a good memory and willing to harbor a grudge. Apparently close to his son.

works here

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