The bank clerk is wearing a shirt that has a stiff high ruffled collar that might have been rejected by Carrie Nation for being too conservative. I am standing before her, flattening out the myriad one dollar bills I have collected from fellow martini drinkers to whom I had sold books the night before.
"May I see your debit card?" she says. "To verify the account number?" I stop shuffling the bills. As my eyes move from the cashier window to my purse, they flit by the bank's side window out of which I can see my beloved Mini Cooper.
A crystal blooms in the Petrie dish of my mind, to which I pay no attention.
I retrieve my debit card and hand it to the clerk, whose accompanying nameplate says "Debbie" and my eyes pass over the Mini again.
The alignment of the bank's windowpane--my frame of reference--has subtlety but definitely changed its alignment with respect to the location of the Mini and two or three more crystals bloom, verifying crystal number one, which despite the fact that not even a second has passed since my original dismissal of it, I no longer can deny. I turn my full attention to the Mini.
Crystals in Petrie Dish of Erin's Mind
1. The window of the bank with respect to the location of the Mini is somehow in flux.
2. The bank is not moving.
3. You (owner and primary operator of Mini) are not in said Mini.
Equation Resulting from Crystals in the Petrie Dish of Erin's Mind
1. 2,600 pounds of Mini Cooper + four percent gradient of parking lot + the earth's inescapable force of gravity + manual transmission left out of gear + idiotic owner of Mini forgetting to engage parking brake = motion.
"SHIT!" I bark.
I scramble to collect the tattered bills and, much to the dismay of the dozen people waiting behind the velvet rope behind me as well as that of Debbie, I say, "Shit!" again and add, "Be right back!"
I fly out of the bank, which is located in the center of the parking lot of a strip mall. By now, the Mini is gaining speed and is headed straight for the plate glass window of an ice cream parlor, inside of which, a handful of ice-cream eaters are looking out the window and forming a few crystals of their own.
At this juncture, I must stop and comment on my relationship with my car. I don't just like my Mini Cooper, I love it. It is small and cute and it makes people happy.
It's like a puppy.
It is also fast and smart and it doesn't take any more than it needs, all of which are qualities for which I strive. I love my Mini Cooper.
Hence, you can understand that the culminating moment of Erin and Mini and plate glass and ice cream and unengaged gears is catastrophic in many ways.
The Mini's path en route to the plate glass window is free and clear, save for the hump of sidewalk that lines the strip mall. I stumble insanely across the lot, one-dollar bills flying in my wake as I realize that although I might have neglected to engage the parking brake, I did not neglect to lock the car. I frantically fish for my keys, find them, drop them, stumble and pick them up, say "SHIT!" again and press the unlock button on the remote.
The rolling Mini politely responds by unlocking the driver's side door and turning on the interior lights.
The four or five ice cream eaters have by now decided that the Mini is anything but puppy-like and are abandoning their seats in front of the window with panic.
There is now only a parking curb between Mini and Rocky Road Parfait disaster as I reach out and open the door. I fly into the seat just as the Mini overcomes the curb. I frantically pull the parking brake, entirely certain that I am too late. I squeeze my eyes shut and wait for the sound associated with Mini Cooper versus security glass.
The Mini comes to a stop, exactly two inches from the window. I slump onto the steering wheel with overwhelming relief and silently vow to never again wear purple, to begin attending church and to invite my in-laws for dinner.
When I finally recover, I raise my head to see the ice cream parlor patrons standing before me, clapping. I offer a beleaguered wave and put the car in reverse. Me and the Mini pay the price of a tiny scrape and I drive backwards over the curb.
I return to the bank. The patrons who were standing in line are snorking and laughing and shaking their heads. One comes forth, an older man who is wearing a suit he undoubtedly purchased in 1973 that still fits him to a tee. He hands me some crumpled bills. "You dropped these," he says.
"Thank you," I say.
The scrape on the bottom of the Mini's bumper was not significant. My subsequent deposit that day was only one dollar short. To whomever did pick up the wayward dollar I dropped in my frantic dash, I would advise you not to spend it, but to instead keep it as a good luck charm.