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Of Legos, bank robberies and grizzly bears

By Mark Sussman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 30, 2004
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I used to have a fantasy as a kid: I am in the middle of the woods behind my family's house in New Jersey. I'm just kind of wandering around looking at trees, overturning rocks, poking at moss and acting in a generally curious, little-kid fashion. Suddenly, there is a giant Kodiak grizzly bear barreling through the trees. He stops in front of me and roars. Terrified, I throw a rock at him, which distracts him just long enough to allow me a head start. He chases me to my backyard and I barely make it back to the house safely. I tell all of my friends, family and teachers about it. I am declared irrefutably awesome.

Now, I'm pretty sure Kodiak grizzlies stick to the Northwest. I'm also pretty sure my scrawny legs wouldn't have gotten me far if one of them really wanted to eat me.

Somehow I had this fantasy whereby I am placed in danger but escape unharmed. Several friends of mine share similar fantasies (being trapped in an elevator, mildly beaten by a bare-knuckled boxer during a grudge match, etc.) and all of them involve escaping something and returning to normal.

I've always been pretty sure this fantasy was just a product of middle-class, suburban boredom. After all, what do you do as a kid in suburban New Jersey? Play with Legos, mostly, or wander around in the woods hoping but also kind of not hoping something bad but also kind of not bad will happen. It would break up the day nicely.

At my most bored, I find myself returning to around 20 versions of the fantasy. Usually, though, they have some kind of outcome in my favor. A favorite one happens when I'm in line at the bank. A bunch of bank robbers flood in and lock the door behind them. Why they chose to rob a credit union rather than a Wells Fargo, I don't know. I don't really register the shock, just kind of glance disinterestedly at the guns pointed in my face.

They take my wallet, but that's okay because there's no cash in it anyway and I'm at the bank already, so canceling my ATM card shouldn't be a problem. They ask me for a smoke too, which I think is weird because you'd think they would just want to be in and out as quick as possible. I know I don't like to spend my time in banks.

Then some dumb young teller with blond hair has to go and play hero. He tries to grab one of the robbers' guns and a struggle ensues. Not wanting to leave any blood behind as DNA evidence, the other robbers don't shoot. Finally, the robber gets the gun back and shoots at the teller. Luckily, though, the teller ducks and the bullet hits the computer, sending a huge power surge throughout all of the bank's computers and wipes out the negative balance I had come into the bank to settle in the first place.

Later, news crews show up and I'm on TV. All of my friends see me. I tell them about the $45 I used to owe the bank. I am declared irrefutably awesome.

Now, I don't really know how my bank's computer system works. I assume my information is backed up automatically at regular intervals and stored in multiple locations or something. I should probably check that out soon.

I do know, however, whenever sitting around trying to figure out why I don't take joy in playing with Legos anymore, that it has something to with a Kodiak grizzly and a bank robbery. If any of those things had actually happened, maybe I wouldn't sit around thinking about them so much. Or maybe I would just have a better sense of where money goes, or how fast bears can run.

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