October 10, 1492 - Columbus Day at the Bank
We hope you had a good Columbus Day. We know that we sure did.
Actually, while they party hearty on Columbus Street in San Francisco, and in other heavy Italian American towns like Boston and New York, here in South County Santa Barbara, the day is filled with jealously and insecurity. It's the one day of the year when South County denizens don't feel so superior to their North County counterparts.
Well, Columbus had lots of names to choose from for his boats. He could've named one Titanic. He could have named one Queen Mary II.
He could even have even named one Santa Barbara. Ed is also a good name. But, the names he chose instead where, Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria.
Maybe Columbus had a thing about tri-tip.
Yesterday, Ed thought that a good old-fashioned count would help the dedicated staff of edhat.com overcome the Columbus Day South County Blues. We set up shop in the parking lot of the Washington Mutual Bank branch on Victoria & State. Our car was in the perfect position where we could see the back door and through the window to the other side of the bank to the front door that opens out to State Street.
We were watching the doors, because customers were trying to use them. As they say, a door is not a door when it is ajar.
Well these doors were more like a window because they were locked shut in celebration of Cristobal Columbus who, to save paying ATM withdrawal fees from a bank that was not his own, sailed the ocean blue in 1492. Much to the bewilderment of the people already living here (and their ancestors), he became famous for discovering America.
It was a similar experience for the people we watched arriving at the bank yesterday morning. They discovered that the bank was closed. They all would do the same native dance – first, expecting nothing out of the ordinary, they would pull on the door handle expecting it to open. When it didn't, they would try the other door. That didn't work, so they would put their faces up to the glass and, using their hands to filter out the glare behind them,
they'd stare into the depths of the branch to see if there were any insiders they could ask to help. But, there wasn't any one there, so they'd step back and read the hours posted on the window. They'd check their watches. Then finally, they'd notice the little sign that said, "We will be Closed Monday October 9". They'd have a moment where they stopped and reflected. Then they'd walk slowly back to their cars – no deposit, no withdrawal – wondering such Columbus Day thoughts like, "If the branch isn't open, will they still try to process my check?"
The dedicated staff tried to help the first person we saw doing the dance. We told them,
"It's Columbus Day."
"What does that mean?" he asked.
"It means the bank is closed," we told him.
"Who celebrates Columbus Day?"
"Apparently the bank does," and we threw in a, "Happy Columbus Day!" as he walked back to his car.
In the half hour period between 9:15 and 9:45 we counted 32 people trying to get into the bank. One person who showed up at the closed bank was a City Parking Officer in her Parking Enforcement scooter. Apparently, they were still giving out parking tickets on Columbus Day.
In yesterday's contest veteran Edhat subscriber, Queen Whackamole hit the mole on the head with an exact guess of 32. The queen wins an Edhat t-shirt, an American treasure far beyond any treasure of which Columbus had ever dreamed.
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