10 AM on a Tuesday the summer of 1980. Outside of the Bank of America, Garnet Avenue, San Diego, California. Stymied, I rattle the double glass doors and peer into the dim interior. Empty. Banks are supposed to be open at 10 AM on weekdays. It’s a rule.
A sign about 18” x 12” is taped neatly to the glass from the inside. Maybe I hadn’t noticed it because the eyeholes in my mask were smaller than I preferred. Maybe I wasn’t in the habit of reading signs on doors that I was about to burst through. Maybe I had other things on my mind. Whatever. I pull off the mask, former President Jimmy Carter, and take a closer hinge at the message. It reads, “ Bank Closed. Signature Day.” I later learn that today is an Official State Holiday marking the date California signed on to the Union. Being a Canadian bank robber, one of the Stopwatch Gang, known for our meticulous planning – this – the bank being closed, seems an important oversight.
I tuck the pistol in my waistband and slouch back towards the getaway car with the bad news. My partners, now that I noticed, were sitting pretty obvious in a dented Ford Plymouth in an almost empty parking lot. I break it to them gently, still there’s a few curses and Three Stooges head slaps.
The Ghost is driving today so we head home, slower than usual. He pulls in next to the drop car, the one we switch to after we throw a bank up in the air, but I wave him on.
“Leave it” I say, “Tomorrow has a 10AM too.”
Stephen Reid’s most recent book is A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden (Thistledown, 2012). The former bank robber turned writer lives on Haida Gwaii.