Good sense takes holiday on first of each month

October 05, 2006|by TIM ROWLAND


Many people I know have a favorite holiday - Christmas, July 4, Easter - and frankly, I feel sorry for them. Their "special day" comes only once a year, and after celebrating, they must wait a full 364 days for it to come around again.

My favorite day, on the other hand, comes not once a year, but once a month, so I get 12 times the enjoyment of most people.

It happens the first of every month, that important but much too uncelebrated event that I like to call Downtown Hagerstown Government Check Day.


If local leaders are looking for a "destination attraction," here it is.

If you have never been to a bank on the first of the month, you are truly missing out on a treat. I always try to hit three or four banks the first of every month, not to conduct any business - goodness, no - but just to hang out in the lobby and observe.

Now you have your normal Government Check folk, the Social Securities and disabilities that are pretty much like you and me. But there is a separate category of people who come out on Government Check Day whom you will find of genuine interest.

They are the ones, perhaps you have seen them, who probably walked into a government office somewhere and asked for a handout. And the bureaucrat, after taking one look into their eyes, probably said something on the order of "Here, take it. Take it all."

These are people who, on the surface, would not appear to be getting it for any particular reason, such as age or infirmity. Yet there is no doubt in your mind that they need it, and you do not begrudge them for it. In fact, you thank the government for seeing to their welfare, so you will not have to run into them in any commercial, private-sector setting.

I mentioned that I would never dream of doing any bank business on the first of the month, and that is because it would take too much time. On Government Check Day, you undoubtedly get behind one of these people who will spend 20 minutes talking to the teller, explaining why his landlord is a jerk.

"...And then I sez to him, I sez, 'you ain't getting no rent money til you turn up the heat,' and he sez to me, he sez, 'I seen you yesterday and you had yer winders open, and I sez to him, I sez, 'That's cuz it was warmer outside,' and he sez to me, he sez, 'You don't pay no rent I'm gonna put you out,' but I know my rights, say did you see that Redskins game yisterday, we show'd em, show'd em good, he don't turn up th' heat til November, see, but I tell him it gits cold in October sometimes, and ..."

The bank tellers, for the record, are saints. Absolute saints. They smile and listen patiently, and offer warm words of support to people in need of them. And, I hasten to say, I strongly believe that we need more kind, understanding people such as these in this world, people who will put other individuals' comfort and convenience ahead of their own.

I am not one of these people.

I would be leaping across the counter and bonking them in the melon with my wooden customer service representative nameplate and telling them to get their money and get out.

But not them. They will listen calmly to a woman, as she says, "And I waaant - let's see, I want two hunnerts, three fifties, two twenties, four tens ... No. I want two hunnerts, three fifties, three twenties ... No. I want three hunnerts, one fifty .. No. Give me a money order."

And if you're behind one of these people at the bank, your heart is rejoicing because it means that you KNOW you will also be behind them at the grocery store, where they will proceed to turn a 20-cent coupon into a document with importance equaling the Magna Carta.

To them, it's just a "suggested" expiration date. To them, "Not Valid With Other Offer" is code for "See if you can get this item for free by using six coupons on the same package of processed American cheese."

You consider being behind such people an inconvenience? Then that is merely a problem of perspective. Don't hate it, enjoy it. You will be amazed at the glory of a year that contains so many holidays.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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