I told my sister this story the other night - it was one I had forgotten about quite honestly. I have often told stories about lessons in humility and this one is no different. Ignorance is bliss until you do something silly as a result. This is one of those silly times.
My first "real" job was as a sales associate at Corral West Ranchwear. I can't say "Corral West Ranchwear" without hearing the radio commercial in my head, where they sing the store name, crack a whip, and shout, "Yaw!". The store closed at 9:00 p.m. which required me to drop off the night deposit at the bank. Of course, banks aren't open at 9:00 p.m., so you have to use the night drop. I was fresh out of high school and my arrogance would have told you I knew it all. My actions, however, proved otherwise.
I will tell you I had never used the night drop before. I paid cash for everything and was always visiting my credit union during the hours of operation. I didn't own a debit card until my husband forced me to get one after we were married. I didn't even own checks until I moved out and had to pay rent. I paid for everything with cash. I also didn't work a full time job, which allowed me the liberty to withdraw cash from my account during daylight hours. Always.
The first time I ever dropped off the night deposit, I had to make a second lap around the bank before I even found the night drop. I remember thinking, "Oh THAT'S what that metal thing is!" I gently pried the door open before I saw my first challenge - getting the deposit bag to fit between those giant metal grates of the drop drawer.
You're seeing where this is going.
I barely opened the night drop drawer, positioned the bag just so the metal lock would wedge between the metal grates, and worked that drawer open and closed until the bag finally worked its way back and I heard it drop into the collection pit of deposits. It was a chore, a work out, and I started only depositing envelopes when we had large deposits because I knew there was no way all the cash would fit at once in those bulky deposit bags.
I did this every night for several weeks.
One night I was doing the deposit and I accidentally opened the door further than I ever had before. There before me was a genius concept. An actual compartment for deposit bags! The metal grates were a safety feature to guard against robberies, and here I was thinking they were some teeth-feeding mechanism to get the deposits inside. Heaven help me, NO ONE TOLD ME THIS! I was so relieved to have found an easier and more practical way to do the deposit. The right way. Who knew?!
I then developed the habit of making the deposit, and opening the drawer a second time to make sure it had dropped so no one would be able to reach into the compartment and take it out. One night shortly after this new-found ritual, I was pulling out of the parking lot when I was suddenly surrounded by three cop cars.
Three. Cop cars. Police. Surrounding me.
One officer approached me, flashlight in hand, shining it directly into my eyeballs. He moved it down to see my name tag (emblazoned with "Corral West Ranchwear")and asked me what my name was. In case I was a hard-core criminal who was only pretending to work at a western clothing store.
"What are you doing here, Val?"
"I just dropped off our deposit from work."
"Corral West...I just...the top of the hill...I wasn't...is something wrong?"
"Yes. The bank alarm was tripped."
My first thought was, "OH MY GAWSH, someone was trying to rob the bank while I was making my deposit!!" I was alarmed to say the least (pun intended). Scared out of my mind. I remember sitting in the driver's seat and looking around expecting to see a would-be robber lurking in the bushes.
I had to wait for him to confer with the other officers before he would move his car and let me continue my very humble journey home. I was cleared. I wasn't going to jail. I didn't even have to bribe him with a discount on Wranglers.
Then I realized, and I'm shamed to admit it was hours later, when I opened the deposit drop door the second time I REALLY opened it, with all my might to make sure it was really empty. Then I let it slam shut. It was me. I had tripped the alarm. There was never a robber. Only a naive 18 year old who didn't know how to work a drawer. A drawer, people.
Thankfully I work at a bank now, so if I need to make a deposit or withdrawal, I can do it all during hours of operation. Like it should be done. No metal alarm traps necessary.