Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Passing Bad Bank Notes and Back Masking

Back Masking and Bad Bank Notes

Computers have taken over the world. They have, it's true. But there is still the occasional need for a handwritten note. Sometimes it's a nice thank you note. Occasionally somebody will need to send a beautifully scripted, well thought out letter to their grandmother. And every so often, the occasion calls for a "hand me some money or I'll kill you" note.
Such was the case for the latter last week in Hillsboro, Ore. I read a story on the Internet - The Source of All Truth - about a young lady named Stephanie Martin (no kin to David Martin).
Martin is a 30-year-old woman who has a really bad problem with money, drugs and penmanship. Last week, Martin walked into her Wells Fargo bank location with a small handwritten note that said: "Need $300 or I'll kill you. I'm serious."
Seems pretty straight forward to me. The lady either needed $300 bucks, preferably in small bills that most drug dealers take or she would have to take the life of the teller. And, possibly the most important part, she was "serious."
The only problem was, the teller wasn't able to read the note because she couldn't understand Martin's penmanship. I bet little Miss Stephanie Martin was wishing at that point she would have listened to her third grade teacher during penmanship. "If only I would have listened and practice my B's, F's, L, and lowercase q's." Unfortunately, that time has past for Stephanie. But it's not too late for many of you.
As I was reading this story, I couldn't help but wonder, "What did the teller think the note said." I let my imagination run wild with one.
Stephanie: Here, read this (sliding the teller the handwritten note).
Teller: (pausing to read the note). Mmmm... (another slight pause). I don't understand. Would you like to cash this or deposit?
Stephanie: Neither, I want you to do what it says on the note.
Teller: Okay. (pausing again while looking at the note like it's written in Latin or French or Klingon). I believe it says here: "Nice 300 S are you coming to it. I'll be rioting." Is that correct?
Stephanie: No! Read the note. The note. Right there. Read it.
Teller: Okay, let me see (briefly rotating the note 180 degrees). Oh, I see now. It says: "There's no one except the sheik that remembered we had the mumps."
Stephanie: What? Sheik? Mumps? Are you reading a back masked copy of Frank Zappa's "Nanook Rubs It"?
Teller: I'm so sorry, ma'am, I just don't understand what this note says.
Stephanie: Can I speak to a manager?
Teller: Of course, can you step right over there and sign in for me? Please write clearly. Thanks.
Actually what happened, according to the story, was Stephanie went over to a table and rewrote the note on the back of a bank deposit slip. That allowed the teller to press the button for the silent alarm, which summoned Frank Zappa.
Ha. Just kidding.
Actually she was able to summon the local authorities, who showed up and back masked her note and showed how Stephanie actually glorified devil worship and Reality Television.
Kidding again.
Actually the police showed up and started trying to decipher the note.

Detective #1: I can't make it out.
Detective #2: Wait. Wait, I think I've got it: "Nice Moose or a chill out. I'm a nurse."
Detective #3: Give me that (rips it out of Detective #2's hand). That's my grocery list.

Needless to say, Stephanie was arrested and charged with attempted bank robbery, 10 counts of conspiracy to commit bad note writing and one count of demonic back masking.
Penmanship is still very important. Martin probably wanted to text the message from her iPhone, but she realized problems with that plan: 1) There might not be service inside the bank and 2) The iPhone could have misspelled the message to read: "beef #300 or U well kool my. I'll serials."
So, the only thing she knew to do was to write the note out in long hand.
I miss the old days of writing with a Big Chief Tablet and one of those big fat pencils. Mrs. Phillips tried to teach me perfect penmanship. Mrs. Phillips was my 105-year-old third grade teacher that never once gave me gold stars for penmanship. Brooke English always got gold stars for her penmanship. Not me. No, I got red marks on my paper corrected the curves in my capital B's and those little seraphs on my lowercase p's.
I still, however, think I could write out the perfect handwritten bank robbery note if I needed to. Although I would probably take a little artistic license with mine. I think maybe I would write a nice free-verse poem or perhaps even a haiku, complete with a back masked message about communism and the war on terror for the manager.
Mrs. Phillips would be so proud.

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