Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It's my birthday

After this post, Classic Brian will be a blog consisting of 620 published posts, 100 of which are tagged with my name, Eliot.

While it is unknown as to whether Nick or I have accumulated more blog posts over CB's existence (it's certainly turned into a two-man game of late), let's just pretend that I own the lion's share. If you were wondering whether I would mention this being Eliot post No. 100, I'm sorry to potentially disappoint you.

Today, just now in fact, I was at an ATM. The ATM has become a depressing place for me recently, as my lack of employment rings in louder and louder harmony to my dwindling funds. But I was taking out money today so that I could go to St. Louis and see The Dark Knight Rises in OMNImax, which I feel is the best way to format that word. As 6 o' clock approached and the store wherein I made my withdrawal reached its close, I staggered up to the ATM behind a middle-aged black lady.

She was sensibly dressed, wearing something of a gray and maroon full-length floral outfit. She was even wearing a sunhat. It suited her. As I stood behind her in line, she turned around and met my gaze for just nearly a brief second before turning back to the ATM, whether she bore a stern face or not, I did not know.

ATM etiquette is one of the most nominal and silly social norms of today. It's right up there with male bathroom etiquette in terms of unnecessary caution. But I am not fully educated on ATM etiquette, and began to question myself as to my standing position — was I too close? Did she distrust me? I don't know how to take advantage of a PIN number, unless I follow that person around until they inadvertently lose their debit card where I can easily retrieve it. Even then, she's a woman. Someone somewhere would probably track me down before too long if I was using a card belonging to Linda Johnson. Just like in the bathroom, if some guy sees your penis, keep in mind, he is still miles away from sucking that thing. You don't have to file assault charges quite yet.

Anyway, I was unsure if our gaze had been a infinitesimal signal of "back off" or merely an intersection of two careless people taking money out of their accounts to spend it and bring their net worth to a new, regrettable low. I stood back, and pretended to focus on a bronze floorpiece that commemorated the University of Illinois on "Agriculture and Science." The two subjects were imprinted in the circle on opposite pages of an open book. Agriculture was hyphenated, because it would be unrealistic if the word went across both pages. There were symbols surrounding the book, one a spade tucked into the earth, another a microscope, and a third appeared to be a agricultural AND scientific object, but I could make no mental connection as to what the piece actually was. I decided the bit of bronze floor was a shabby artifact, not vital to the University.

As I came to this conclusion, the black lady in front of me pulled away from the ATM muttering utterances I could not understand. Whether she was condemning me in a foreign language or rapping Lil Wayne lyrics under her breath, I could not tell. Then I looked at her hands, she had a lot of cash, and was organizing it. One of her bills had an approximate third of it torn off. She was talking about it, but again, I didn't know if she was inviting conversation or if she was ticked off at my intrusion. If she was mad, I feared, she would present me with of some of that patented black-lady sass (patented black-lady sass is preferable to stereotypical black-lady sass, I am hoping).

I resorted to my only plausibly safe recourse: the nervous but entirely audible laugh. She looked at me and, in agreement, shook her head. We were on the same team, I was almost sure of it.

"What?" I said, realizing that I hadn't heard her legitimately.
"One of my bills is torn in half," she said, content to have her complaint heard.

And there it had went, by far the most efforted social interaction I had all day.  For some reason, this felt like enough. Like just talking to that alone, middle-aged black lady was satisfactory to think "I talked to someone at the ATM today." For what it's worth, I think her 20 was still usable. I didn't mention that, however, because now she got to go inside the store and talk to a clerk about it, and that would be two conversations on this ever-wilder ATM quest. Tired, hot and full of a Buffalo Chicken footlong from Subway, I stepped up to the ATM, when it hit me.

I turned my head in her direction as she faded into the store.

"That's quite literally a rip-off," I said.
She stopped. "What?"
"I said, 'That's quite literally a rip-off.'"
"Ha ha ye-es," she replied with on-the-go humored enthusiasm.

I grinned alone in that lobby even as I threw away my receipt with depressing figure-based reality imprinted upon it. Out the door with $30 I went, and headed toward my still un-air-conditioned apartment. To tell the world of my brave adventure.

This glamorous life I have.

Here's to going for it when there's no reason not to, and in return receiving modest-but-positive results;  the very essence of Classic Brian itself.

--Eliot Sill


  1. I want to say that I beat you to 100, but I don't actually care enough to check.

  2. This is real good my friend