“It seems so simple to just write a check,” I said to myself, squinting at the small print on the paperwork accompanying the ADP-issued prepaid card that held my last paycheck. The HR rep at my work assured me that it would be easy to deposit into my own bank account. I suspected her to be a liar.
“Next.” A woman waved me over with a brightly-colored cast covering her wrist and forearm. I displayed the envelope and papers to her in a clear sign of I-have-no-idea-what-the-fuck-I’m-doing. “How can I help you?”
“I am trying to deposit this money into my account from this card my employer gave me.” She took the card, looking it over front and back. “I just don’t know if there is a fee I should include, or deduct,” I said.
“Oh. That’s strange. Does your employer pay everyone like this?” she asked.
“No. It’s my last payment. It’s my last day, actually.”
“Oh, really?” She lowered the card, her head cocked to one side.
“No, it’s a good thing,” I said, not entirely prepared to discuss the matter with a stranger, but unable to ignore the pity beginning to pool in her eyes.
“Oh, that’s good,” she said, relief spreading across her face. “You have another opportunity lined up?”
“Well… No. No, I just decided it was time for a change. Something different. Something that would make me… happier.” As vague a description as it were, something changed in the bank teller. A lift in her gait. A smile on her face that told of something deeper within herself.
“Wow,” she said. And I could tell she really meant it. “That’s really great that you are able to do that.”
The bank teller transferred the money and sent me on my way with praises and well-wishes. She was not the only person to react to the news this way, though she was the first. And I will probably always remember her for that. In a moment of uncertainty, of questioning whether I had made the right decision or not, I saw a glimpse of admiration from this woman. This woman with a busted arm working nights in a grocery store bank branch.
A veil lifted from the world that day, no longer concealing the grief that hung over people. That hold money had on them. On me.
That hold hasn’t disappeared. I doubt it ever will. But at least I wasn’t miserable today.