Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bobby the Banker and My Daring 'Do

My best buddy working the bank was Bobby the banker. He was baby-faced and dorky but he was also about seven feet tall. It was amazing. I’m not a short man, but I had to do a lot of neck-craning when Bobby was around.

Bobby and I first bonded, I think, over comic books. We were both big geeks about ‘em and we’d try to take a lunch break together every week or two to walk down to the comics shop nearby and pick up our books. Bobby had some cool ideas for a superhero book he wanted to write and wild stories about living in a warehouse when he was young.

So, one day Bobby’s at the bank, and the line of customers is between his desk and the line of tellers. He glances up from his desk at the line and does a double take.

Bobby rubs his eyes with his hands.

Nope. It’s not his eyes.

That guy standing in line... is blurry. He’s standing still, holding his bank slip in front of him, just chilling out. But he looks like he’s in a blurry photo or something.

Bobby sits back in his chair looking at the guy, trying to figure out what the hell is going on. He looks at some other people in line to check, maybe it’s the lighting or something. But no. Everyone else looks normal. Bobby can’t figure it out. And he can’t exactly go ask the guy. So he sits there puzzled while the guy gets to the front of the line, does his business with a teller and walks out.

Bobby gets up and walks over to the teller.

“Hey, am I crazy, or was that guy, like, out of focus? Like fuzzy-looking?”

The teller, a young girl, looks at him with an ashen, wide-eyed look of grossed-out horror.

“He was CRAWLING,” she says, “with LICE.”

They had to shut down the branch for a week to fumigate.

Another day, some jumpy dude walked into the branch and asked Bobby if he could sit down. Bobby thought, “Awesome, nobody even had to work for this one,” and asked the guy what kind of account he needed help with. The dude mumbled something indirect in reply, and for a few minutes Bobby, disappointed this had turned instead into a waste of time, tried to figure out how to open an account for the guy, who was just sitting there fidgeting and half-shivering.

After a bit, the guy jumped up and walked right back out of the bank.

We were slow, so Bobby came over to the teller line to tell me about the weird guy. We laughed about him for a minute and then Bobby walked back… to find the guy had peed all over the chair.

Now, because I held this job during my Fight Clubbin’ days, I sometimes showed up to work with bruises and scabs all over me. Just like Edward Norton does in the movie, I took a sick kind of delight in having people walk up to make their deposits, make a quick second of eye contact with me and immediately turn their faces down to the counter and keep them there.

I didn’t want to scare anybody; I just thought it was funny how uncomfortable they were. Barbie thought it was funny. I got a really brutal black eye and face-scrape one night after racing down a sidewalk in Seattle with Tyler sitting on my shoulders, and when I showed up to work the next day she laughed.

“Did you get in a fight?” she said, the same way you might teasingly ask a soaked person if they forgot their umbrella on a stormy day.

“No, actually,” I said, half-surprised to be giving that answer.

“Did you get drunk and fall down?”

Good ol’ Barbie.

So eventually I decided to quit. My life SUCKED at this job! Olympia was slowly killing me and I was becoming an alcoholic and we were living in the only project housing in town and it was run by meth-heads, and my school was a limp jerk-off of an education and my job was boring and paid little and it was cold and wet all the time and Seattle was too long a drive to realistically visit very often and my girlfriend and I hadn’t had sex in forever and my parents were getting divorced with my brother dealing with it alone down in California, and some of my favorite people at work had been fired or quit to get better jobs and you couldn’t buy booze on Sundays.

All of which had been the case for quite a while, but then my boss said I couldn’t have time off to visit my family for Christmas.

That was when I realized something awesome. I didn’t have to do something just because my boss said I had to do it. I could quit the job. I didn’t have any abiding love for bank work. It would be easy! Holy shit, I couldn’t believe I thought of it!

Soon as I made the decision, life changed up a little. I called my mom and floated the idea of coming back home, and she was so cool about it I was stunned. My boss at the bank decided to quit, too. I went about making goodbyes and wrapping up what little needed wrapping up, and then I got a great idea.

My plan was to go to my last day of work, all normal-style, and then halfway through the shift – I would get a Mohawk.

It was genius. It would totally freak everybody out. It would be hella punk rock. I could tell people for years about how cool and anti-establishment I was, how I stuck it to the man by making them DEAL with a guy who had a fuckin’ MOHAWK, you guys. I was so stoked and full of self-satisfaction it’s a wonder I was able to put on my pants that day.

I brought a pair of clippers in a bag and stashed them in the break room. Then when lunch time was coming up, I walked over to Bobby’s desk and broke him the news.

“Dude, you have to come help me cut my hair.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I brought clippers. You gotta give me a Mohawk.”

“I don’t know how to give you a Mohawk, man!”

“Dude, it’s easy. You clip off one side and then you clip off the other. Come on, don’t be a pussy!”

“Okay, but we gotta be quick.”

I’d made Bobby all kinds of nervous by springing it on him at the last second. We went into the employee bathroom and I took my shirt off and knelt down over a wastebasket and Bobby – still wearing a full business suit – stood over me with the clippers. I wanted a REAL Mohawk so we took the guards off and he was shaving my head bald.

He was seriously freaking out, though, and he kept saying, “I gotta get back, man, they’re gonna notice I’m gone,” and he ended up cutting the shit out of my scalp with the clipper blades by jamming them into my head too fast. He managed a straight line down one side of the ‘hawk but the right side of my scalp had hair coming out farther around the middle of my head, forming a sort of long triangle instead of a long, thin bar of hair. I was bleeding all over the place. I had loose hair all over my shoulders and neck. I put my shirt back on and it was the most uncomfortable thing I’d ever worn.

I went back to the teller line, all set to rock everybody’s world… and nobody gave a shit. A couple people laughed but nobody was freaked out. I was stunned. I came in with a black eye and everyone got shy and quiet, but a freakin’ badass Mohawk and blood all over? No one really batted an eye. Every time someone walked up, I gave this expectant, excited look, ready for them to flip out, and people would just nod and look at my hair and say, “Well, how ‘bout that?”

I went home and showered and looked at it again and I couldn’t believe how stupid I looked. I tried to fix the damn thing and got Molly and Darren both on the job with the clippers but it was never the glory I expected. And Molly made me agree to shave it off before driving the moving van back home, arguing that without any black people to screw with in either Washington or Oregon, the police would likely instead fuck with people who had stupid punk rock haircuts.

I was so glad to finally have someone give me validation that the ‘hawk was, indeed, a very punk rock gesture on my part, that I shaved it clean off and drove through three states looking like Uncle Fester.

Words: Sean Murray
Art: Manuel Martinez