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The clock is ticking. I missed the last bus, and now I'm jogging down the streets of the city in my favorite black suit, dodging pedestrians and street vendors. I have exactly fifteen minutes to get into the bank, go to the bathroom, and prepare for my business day. If I arrive in less than fifteen minutes, I will be present for the opening of the bank, the most stressful part of my day.
I round the corner of Main and Vine Streets, looking directly at the familiar dark marble building. As usual, a group of seemingly exhausted citizens is lined up on the pavement. Most of the people are office workers trying to get their day's cash before the morning opening of the bank. Most of the people are standing with their hands buried in their pockets, trying to brave the onslaught of freezing city air. None of this strikes me as odd as I head for the glass double doors to enter the bank. The same group braves the icy weather every morning. So why does this seem different?
I step inside the building and knock on a glass door used only by staff members. I look down at my watch. Only five minutes to spare! Where is everyone? I can't be late for the bank's opening. I will not be late because nobody can hear me knocking! I knock on the door harder, louder. I stop for fear of accidentally breaking the door. I pull my red knuckles away from the door, ignoring the pain pulsing from my hand. Finally, one of my coworkers comes to my aid and opens the door. I wait for her to retrieve the key and unlock the steel lock. The lock makes a loud clank as it is unlocked. I push open the heavy door and step inside the bank.
As soon as I enter, I am hit with an unexpected gust of air conditioning. The bank radio is already on, and Madonna's "Holiday" echoes through the deserted bank. I quickly walk across the floor, my shoes making loud squeaks on the tile. I make a beeline for the large wooden door that leads to the staff area and the restrooms. If I hurry, I should have no problem. The bank manager is already hunched over her desk, poring over hundreds of bank documents.
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I open the wooden door and jog down the narrow corridor leading to the staff lunchroom. I practically rip open my backpack and throw my lunch bag into the refrigerator. Instead of saying good morning to my fellow bank tellers, I turn around and bolt for the bathroom. There's someone in there? No! The bank opens in exactly three minutes and thirty seconds. There's no time! I give up on the bathroom and head out of the corridor. I swing open the partition and enter the teller line itself. Only a handful of computers are ready at the moment. I go to my computer station and set my bag down. I look at the date. No, it can't be right...I check another calendar, and it shows the same thing: today is marked with a fine red-tipped pen, indicating that today is the dreaded payday!! My already anxious demeanor toward the morning opening escalates into pure terror. Payday! That means that there will be hordes of tired, irritable customers unceasingly bombarding the bank all day! That explains the enormous crowd of people standing outside the bank's doors.
I grab a set of keys and head for the vault. There is going to be a line of incredible magnitude once the bank opens this morning, and I will be ready. I unlock my storage shelf and retrieve my cash bin, then return to my station. By then, my coworkers have assembled. There are only three of us in the first hour; the next shift won't come till ten. The three of us seem like a group of prisoners facing a firing squad. I can see the mob of people peering into the bank, looking at us tellers with cold and hungry eyes. The last few seconds are upon us. I'm too tense to speak. The music is forgotten; the only sound I hear is the steady click of the clock as it counts away the last precious seconds.
The time is gone. It is time for the opening of the bank, and the beginning of the business day. One of the tellers reluctantly retrieves a key from the storeroom. He walks slowly toward the entrance and unlocks the glass doors. The hinges squeak as the door opens wide. The crowd of people begins rushing into the bank, as quick and unstoppable as a tidal wave. I stand firmly with my fellow tellers, prepared for whatever the morning shall bring. The line is forming and the customers are ready. The bank is open. The business day has begun.