Just when you think you can’t get any richer

We closed out a bank account we once used for direct deposit and no longer need. Yes, it’s a sad day when your direct deposits cease to exist. A moment of silence, please.

We went in person to the bank to close the account. For the record, it is the only time either of us have entered a bank wearing masks.

It took some time. There was a flurry of activity behind the counter as several people consulted with one another and a bank manager was sought to sign off on things. Finally, we filled out the necessary paperwork, withdrew the remainder in the account, said our goodbyes, and left the bank with two new ballpoint pens.

Several weeks later, we received an envelope in the mail, four pages in all, one piece of paper completely blank, notifying us of a balance in the closed account.

One cent.

This is our version of a “get-rich-quick.”

I voted for leaving the penny just to see if it would magically spawn more pennies, but the husband said we should withdraw the “funds” if for no other reason than to spare the bank the expense of maintaining an inactive account. Agreed.

He volunteered to go to the bank to resolve the matter. Also agreed.

He was gone a very long time. The bank lobby was now closed due to an uptick in Covid cases. All transactions were conducted in the drive-through lanes with large video screens. It takes a lot longer to find the necessary people, and return to the video screen with each one, to clarify matters, as opposed to shuffling people behind a counter.

He finally returned home. Without the penny.

This was a disappointment, as I was visualizing polishing it and displaying it in a place of prominence. The bank could not release the penny to the husband because I was the one who had opened the account.

It’s intoxicating to wield such power.

I would be the one to make the withdrawal and (again) close the account.

Let’s see, three trips to the bank, four miles round trip, at government rate of 57.5 cents per mile, the penny was now worth $6.90 plus one cent face value. We were what you would call heavily invested.

We returned to the bank several days later, but not without doing hair and makeup first, knowing we would be on video—a video no doubt broadcast to the employee breakroom once word was out that the couple was back for their one cent.

The transaction was completed, the staff was sincerely apologetic, but most importantly the lighting in the drive-through was filtered and flattering, which is important when you’re on screen. Plus, if there was laughing in the background it was thoughtfully muted.

Senator Everett Dirksen is remembered for saying, “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”

That’s us. Working our way toward real money, one penny at a time.

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