Thursday, January 31, 2008

Jane Sykes, Chapter One: In Which We Learn The Name That Must Never Be Spoken

Jane Sykes is in her seventies. I was working on the drive up and she pulled up in her huge car. Just before I went to help her, one of the other tellers grabbed my arm and said “Oh, God, it’s Jane. Don’t say her name to her, she’ll flip out.”

I laughed to myself, thinking they were playing a prank on me. I turned and looked at the client and froze in my tracks. I’ve seen how old ladies apply make up. It looks like they applied it driving 80 miles an hour backwards.

Well, Jane looked like she had taped lipstick to the end of a giant swinging pendulum and then ran past it with her lips pursed like a duck bill. Her eyes were crazy. It was like they were vibrating in their sockets. I broke my momentary paralysis and opened the drawer, turning on the microphone. “Good morning, how are you today?”

What issued forth from the speaker was a string of untranslatable gibberish. I heard something about cats as I pulled in the drawer and began to process the transaction. The woman speaks as if she constantly has a mouthful of lozenges.

After a few moments, I finished her deposit and placed her receipt into the drawer, sending it out to her. Without thinking, I asked “is there anything else I can do for you, Mrs. Sykes?”

I feel I am a good person. I may not have adhered to the strictest definition of my religion’s tenets, but I treat others with kindness and compassion, I try to be the best most decent person I know how to be. I’d like to think it’s the intent, not the delivery, that grants the departed access into whatever hereafter there may be. In other words, I don’t think I am going to Hell.

If I am, though, I have an idea of the kind of demonic howling I am apt to be greeted with. This woman went insane right there in the drive up lane. How could I have used her name? What was I, stupid? Didn’t I know that they were listening at all times? Didn’t I know that if they had found out that she was banking there, they were apt to break into her house in the night?

I apologized profusely and she drove away very angry.

Holy Sweet and Sainted Jesus. I will never doubt my co-workers again.