Crime Doesn’t Pay

85

Robbing a bank because you want more money looks cool
in the movies. However, it seldom ends well in the real world.

My dad spent his professional life as a banker. He helped small-town folks realize their big dreams. Along the way, he made a good living and did a superb job of providing for his family. However, he also got to rub shoulders with the criminal element from time to time.

Exploding Pants

What follows has been immortalized in film on several occasions, but this happened for real. Our hero was part of an inept three-man bank robbery crew. This wasn’t the finely tuned professional sort like in the epic Michael Mann movie “Heat.” These guys were more like the Three Stooges of crime.

The actual robbery of a tiny bank branch went off flawlessly. They were in and out long before the cops could intervene. As they sped away in their pimped-out ghetto sled, the three criminals just could not wait to divvy up the spoils. As this was back in the 1980s, the driver was wearing those baggy parachute pants that were so popular at the time.

You recall these pants were cinched at the ankles and adequately voluminous to actually house a couple of people at one time. As stupid as that seems, it still makes more sense than the way today’s thugs wear trousers. They inexplicably fasten their belts around their thighs and then wander about, trying to look cool while waddling like crack-addled penguins. More often than not, it seems to forever require at least one hand to keep their pants from falling off. I freely admit that I just don’t get it.

The ringleader frenetically handed out stacks of cash to each of the three players. As the driver was preoccupied driving, he just dutifully stuffed his third of the take, one stack at a time, down the front of his pants for safekeeping. As luck would have it, he drew the fake stack containing the exploding dye pack.

Once the predetermined amount of time had passed, this stack of rigged money duly exploded. The resulting not-insubstantial blast blew a sizeable hole in his pants and coated both the inside of the car and his comrades with indelible blue dye. It also very nearly blew his balls off. The cops later said identifying and apprehending the perpetrators was not nearly as challenging as one might expect.

Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) allow customers to access their money after hours. However, these things are built like main battle tanks. Credit: Infrogmation of New Orleans.

Nothing Beats a Proper Work Ethic

Dad’s ATM machine lived in a small free-standing kiosk built in the middle of the bank parking lot. One morning he arrived at work to find that somebody had torn a hole in the side of the little building. The actual ATM itself was encased in depleted uranium or some such and was subsequently impregnable, but this diligent, aspiring thief had invested a great deal of effort disassembling the kiosk’s brick wall to ascertain that fact. Dad dutifully went inside, called the cops, and pulled up the surveillance video.

The miscreant got started a bit before midnight, chipping away at the brick wall with a variety of hand tools until he found what seemed to work best. Throughout the course of a long, arduous evening, he took regular breaks, stayed well-hydrated, and retreated back to his pickup truck for fresh gear. He finally gained entry into the little building just before dawn.

In the video footage, Dad saw the poor guy crawl through the hole, linger for a bit and then emerge predictably empty-handed. Getting into the kiosk was fairly straightforward. Cracking the ATM itself was essentially impossible. After all that work, he returned his tools to his pickup truck and drove home with nothing to show for his evening’s diligence, save perhaps a sore back and some scuffed knuckles.

One of the cops sighed and said, “I know where he lives. I’ll go round him up.” We lived in a small town. Everybody knew everybody. With so few criminals to go around, the cops knew most of them fairly intimately.

Ruminations

Character must indeed be developed in a young man, but character cannot really be taught. You either have the foundation to start with, or you don’t. Likewise, a decent work ethic is a critical aspect of anyone’s professional performance, whether you clean out the grease traps at McDonald’s or sign off on all of the policy decisions at Google. However, sometimes, those disparate traits mix and match a bit unevenly.

This poor misguided soul had a great work ethic, but he was stupid. All he got for his hard night’s work was a felony conviction for attempted bank robbery. However, at the end of the day, he should likely still be grateful. The guy in the first story ended up in the same place, only very nearly having been explosively castrated in the process. Perhaps natural selection really is a thing after all.

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