“Bienvenidos!” painted over an arched doorway and murals of presumably Mexican beaches adorned the walls, an effort to transport us from Memphis to Mexico in the blink of an eye, by walking through a single door into Playita Mexicana, my favorite Mexican restaurant in town. We were there for celebratory purposes, my wife, my dad, and myself, enjoying a meal together for my dad’s birthday. For those of you who have never eaten at Playita Mexicana before, you need to quit reading this stupid blog and go over there right now, trust me. So what if you don’t live in Memphis? It will be well worth how ever far you have to drive to eat this food. It doesn’t matter how many times I eat here, I never walk in knowing what I’m going to get because there’s just so many good things to choose from, and last night was no exception, having to send the waiter away more than once while we tried to decide what to order, while munching on chips and cheese dip, the one constant on every visit.
My dad and I both ordered chimichangas, ground beef for him and grilled chicken for me, and my wife got a steak quesadilla. As always the food came out pretty quickly, well my dad and wife’s did, while mine came out a few minutes later because apparently they had to catch, kill, and pluck the chicken before throwing it onto the grill. My chimichanga arrived, and the first thing that came to mind was a bean bag chair because of how enormous it was, not only in length and width, but in height, it was just monstrous, and without a doubt the biggest chimichanga I’d ever seen. A mistake I always, ALWAYS make at Mexican restaurants is eating too much of the chips and salsa/cheese dip before the actual entrée arrives, so by the time it does, I’m not that hungry anymore. It’s not like this sneaks up on me out of nowhere, I know it’s going to happen as I dip chip after chip into the queso and strategically move it towards my mouth so as not to let little white drips of melted cheese fall onto my shirt, but yet I continue to do it anyway. It’s good, yes, but moreover than that it’s just there, in front of me looking completely irresistible, so all thoughts of ruining my appetite are pushed to the side, telling myself that maybe just the once I can eat unlimited chips and cheese dip without it having any impact on my appetite whatsoever, like maybe there exists a day in the universe where the laws of hunger don’t apply, like a supernatural cheat day, and I just so happened to walk into a Mexican restaurant on that very day, the lucky man that I am. I tell you this, expose my utter lack of self control because it happened again, and by the time the biggest chimichanga I’d ever seen was placed on the table before me, I wasn’t exactly full, but I wasn’t really hungry anymore either.
The plate before me was completely filled, the massive chimichanga taking up about half of the large plate, with rice and beans on the other half. In the middle of the plate sat a small bed of lettuce with diced tomatoes, and sour cream, things that would normally be put on the chimichanga or eaten alongside it, but the thought of adding more ingredients to it, daunting as it already was, was completely unthinkable and unappealing given the fact that I wasn’t even hungry anymore. Despite the fact that I was having major doubts about whether I would be able to eat the meal before me, it did look absolutely delicious, topped with a red sauce, melted cheese, and queso. I took a bite, and it tasted even better than it looked, the chicken so juicy and flavorful and the melted cheese and the sauce marrying together perfectly to make it the perfect bite. It was the first time that I’d ever tried the grilled chicken before here, and after having had it yesterday, it’s going to be incredibly difficult for me to get any other kind of meat going forward because it was just that good. The beans which I’ve previously praised before weren’t as good last night. Melting cheese on top of something is a reliable way to improve just about anything, which is normally the case with the refried beans here, but they tasted overcooked and had a bit of a strange aftertaste last night that no amount of cheese could cover up.
I ladled some of the queso onto the rice, taking the cue from my dad who had gotten the idea from my cousin Bailey who has been eating her rice like that for many years, but I really didn’t eat that much of the rice because of how full I was and wanted to fit as much of that glorious chimichanga into my stomach before I could eat no more and didn’t really want to take up any of that crucial real estate with rice. I finished a little more than half before I just couldn’t eat anymore, except for the chips and cheese dip that I continued munching on until it was finally time to leave for no other reason than that they were still there in front of me and no matter how full I am, it always seems like I can eat one more chip, because who can’t eat one chip, and that mentality repeats itself over and over again until absolute misery takes over. The meal was really good, and now that I’ve had about sixteen hours to digest it, the other half of that chimichanga is starting to sound pretty good right about now, and although the meal was great, the real highlight was just getting to see my dad on his birthday for the second year in a row, something I don’t remember happening any year before then, so hopefully this new tradition will stick and be observed for many years to come.
When I went to France for the first time thirteen years ago, it was my first trip out of the country and I was excited both to see all of the magnificent sights that Paris had to offer, but also to experience and try all of the unique food that is renowned as some of the best in the world. Going in, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Sure my dad had given gone over some of the basics of French cuisine with me, getting me well acquainted with crepes in the years leading up to the trip, and talking about escargot anytime I needed a good laugh, but past that, I wasn’t really too knowledgeable about the food aside from the fact that it is considered to be really, really good. The food in Paris lived up to it’s reputation, leaving me to walk away from every meal full and completely satisfied. It’s almost like Paris is a dream world, because you eat and eat, sometimes spending a couple hours eating multiple courses for dinner, and by the time you leave the restaurant you are completely full, unable to eat another bite, but somehow you are able to summon the energy to walk back home like you hadn’t just eaten a four course meal that was so good you didn’t have the willpower to leave any food on the plate uneaten. So yes, for the first few days in France, everything was perfect and despite having never eaten any of that stuff before, I was really taking a liking to the food, but then one fateful night, we veered right, completely swerving off the path of traditional French cuisine, and ended up in the murky swamp of Parisian Thai food.
Sometimes when you are dating someone, that person can posses a certain amount of control on your mind, using that power to get what they want, say for instance, Thai food in Paris, which is exactly how my dad and I ended up in a Thai restaurant with my dad’s friend Brian, and his girlfriend, Laurence (pronounced Looo-honce). I think to the extent which Brian is to blame is only that he was dating somebody who liked this particular restaurant, because even though he acted like it was partly his idea and that he wanted to eat there, I think he was clearly urged in that direction by Laurence via the aforementioned mind control. We walked into the restaurant which was brightly lit, bathing everything in an obnoxious hue of yellow. This is one of the few things I remember about the décor which should tell you how bad it is that I still remember that bright light vividly more than a decade later. Where going toward the light is normally a reference to heaven, this was more like walking straight into the depths of hell but instead of being tortured for all eternity, it only felt like that long.
We didn’t have to sit on pillows around a low table, but honestly that probably would have been a lot more comfortable. The table we were led to was a small one that was fairly low to the ground with two benches on either side of it, which doesn’t sound all that bed, but that’s only because I’m not finished describing it yet. The benches, that were like rectangular ottomans were bolted to the floor, completely unmovable, which wouldn’t have been so problematic had there been more space between the bench and the table. As it were, the only thing that could have slid comfortably into that microscopic space was a single sheet of printer paper, which didn’t bode well for us humans. I put my left leg over the bench and wiggled it until it found breathing room below the surface of the table, then brought my right knee up, contorting my body like I was a member in Cirque de Soleil rather than an American teenager in a French restaurant, and somehow managed to slide that into place under the table without pulling something out of socket or tearing any major ligaments, which might be the most impressive thing I’ve ever accomplished.
The menu came and it was fairly big which is usually a good thing since there is a lot to choose from and you’re more likely to find something that looks good, but this menu was in a language that was foreign to me. I don’t know if it was in French or Thai, but it definitely wasn’t in English, not that it should have been, but the point is that I couldn’t read the menu at all and my dad seemed to be nearly as clueless as me. I probably could have asked Brian or Laurence for help translating, and that is absolutely what I should have done, but playing the part of the adventurous traveler, I just decided to point at something on the menu, and hope that it was edible. I think to that point in my life I had never eaten Thai food before so I didn’t have any prior knowledge as to what I would like anyway, so asking for a translation might not have affected the outcome at all, unless there was something on the menu called chicken tenders with honey mustard. The waiter arrived with the food, and sat completely at attention, completely still, partly because I was nervously waiting to see what I had ordered, and partly because I was so tightly wedged between the bench in the table that any movement at all was completely impossible.
The plate was set on the table before me; four green bundles stared up at me, leafs wrapped around something that hopefully looked more appetizing than the first impression that I was getting. I unwrapped the leafs like little gifts, optimistically thinking that good things come in small packages. After the small piece of twine was removed and part of the leaf flopped open to the left, as if it couldn’t wait to get away from whatever was inside of it. The air rose out from within the leaf, like the last stale breath before death finally sets in, hitting me square in the face, letting me know that I made a very bad decision. For the life of me I can’t remember what was wrapped in those leaves, but I know that I didn’t eat very much of it, picking at it with my fork and taking small and invisible bites until everyone else finished eating and we were able to leave my least favorite restaurant in the world behind. As we walked back to Brian’s apartment, the Eiffel Tower lit up the night sky, flashing it’s hourly greeting, reminding me that I was in one of the greatest cities in the world, and nothing, not even a terrible meal at a Thai restaurant could change that.
The best way to start the day is with breakfast, and when I was younger, McDonald’s was the place to get it, which I think had more to do with the sentimentality of that being the place my dad and I would always go when he would come visit rather than the quality of the food, which we can all agree is complete crap, amazing, delicious crap. I remember one time when I had spent the night over at my great grandmother’s house, and in the morning she asked me what I wanted for breakfast, going over all of the many options that she had to make, biscuits, eggs, sausage, fried potatoes, toast, or cereal, all perfectly good options, most of which I would prefer now over going out for breakfast, but my young mind was centered and solely focused on McDonald’s, so that is where we went. I got the sausage biscuit with a hash brown, the only thing I ever got back then. Once I had branched out and tried the breakfast burrito before going to a water park for the day, and that didn’t turn out good for anyone, so the sausage biscuit and hash brown was it from then on. Breakfast was great, the guilt trip I got later in the day from my granddad was not. He told me when offered something, you either take it or you don’t, but you shouldn’t suggest something else that you want more, because that’s rude, a valuable lesson learned at a young age. What made it worse was the fact that my great grandmother had everything at home to make what I got to eat at McDonald’s which I didn’t realize because I was so focused on what I wanted and wasn’t really paying attention to the less desirable homemade options.
Close to twenty years have passed since I snubbed my great grandmother’s home cooking for McDonald’s, and while my love for their breakfast has certainly wavered and fallen off quite a bit, it hasn’t completely disappeared. This past weekend, my wife and I were both up pretty early, before she had to go to work, and lying in bed, as if she had read my mind, suggested we go get breakfast. This may seem like a normal thing for couples to do on the weekend, but it’s actually a very rare occasion for us, not only because she has to work basically every weekend morning, but because my wife actually kind of hates breakfast. It’s crazy, because breakfast is by far the greatest meal of the day, but my wife and I are basically polar opposites when it comes to our feelings on the matter, but for some reason, she suggested it, and of course I was one hundred percent on board. There are several places here in town that I love to go for a good breakfast consisting of either biscuits and gravy, or sausage and eggs with hash browns, but since we were in a little bit of a time crunch and my wife had to leave for work before too long, we wouldn’t have had time to eat at any of those places, so we did the next best thing, and went to McDonald’s.
It was an overcast and dreary morning, and a slight drizzle was descending down on the city, which didn’t seem to deter anyone from getting their breakfast as the parking lot was so full we had to circle fully around the building and found a parking spot on our second loop. Although it was crowded, this McDonald’s was the picture of efficiency, with multiple register opened, taking orders and getting through the line quickly, and then stepping to the side of the counter for maybe two minutes at the most until your food was ready and your number was called. My wife and I both got the hotcakes and sausage with a hash brown, which I added to my order first and my wife decided to piggy back on my gluttony, and coffees for the both of us, vanilla iced for her and a hot pumpkin spice latte for myself, which would probably be embarrassing to admit ordering if it weren’t so freaking good. We found a booth near the window and watched the rain fall from the dark sky on a mild October morning. I “buttered” the pancakes, which I put in quotation marks and say with skepticism because I don’t know what I was spreading on the pancakes but there’s no way it was butter. It would have been nice to equally portion out the syrup between the three flap jacks, but not wanting to risk getting sticky syrup on my hands and ruining the rest of my day, I just dumped it all out on the top pancake, figuring I would just use the excess syrup that ran off and pooled near the sides of the plate as a dipping sauce for the others.
The hot cakes were not so hot, and in fact weren’t even warm, but were actually kind of cold, which did nothing to enhance the flavors that weren’t all that great to begin with. The sausage I actually enjoyed, and the best bites of pancake were the ones that were skewered on the same fork as a bite of sausage and dipped in the syrup. The hash brown was heavenly and just the way I remembered, and the pumpkin spice latte was really good as well, although I must say that it isn’t anywhere near as good as the one from Starbucks that started this whole trend, plus, I got a medium and the cup was only filled up about three quarters of the way which seemed like a bit of a rip off, but the warm taste of fall worked wonders in not allowing me to be bothered by that fact. Overall the breakfast was good but not great, and would have been so much better if the hotcakes had actually been hot, but I realize it’s probably a lot to expect of a McDonald’s product to live up to its name. I probably should have gotten a sausage biscuit and hash brown, because to this day, that meal has never let me down.
Never in my life have I ever had my debit card declined at a restaurant, but there’s a first time for everything unfortunately, and Saturday it happened to me. I was out to lunch with my dad and his mom. We had been at the hospital that morning, visiting with my uncle Brett who had been in there since Monday due to an ulcer that had been building up unbeknownst to anyone and finally had to be operated on in emergency surgery. It was good to see him, and although he was still in a little bit of pain, he was doing and feeling a lot better, and only had a couple more days left in the hospital to make sure he didn’t get an infection. We were there for an hour or two, and by the time we left it was nearly one, so naturally we started talking about getting something for lunch. The only thing I could think of in the area was Huey’s, so that’s where we decided to go.
It was crowded when we arrived, a fact that always brings me comfort in Huey’s, and is the only restaurant I can think of that has that affect on me. Normally crowded restaurants mean a long wait, either for a table, your food, or both, but here it just seems right that it be crowded. Despite the fact that the restaurant seemed packed to the brim when we walked in, we were immediately ushered to a booth, somewhere amongst the many voices of the cheerful lunch goers surrounding us. I looked briefly over the menu, which always seems to be a waste of time since every single time I eat at Huey’s, I get a burger, but I like to browse nonetheless, and float some ideas through my mind, putting them in a head-to-head matchup with the burger to see if anything can beat it out. This time I thought about nachos, or just getting a basket of the new tater tots with bacon and cheese, which sounded delicious, but the more I thought about it, the less it sounded like a fulfilling meal and more like an appetizer. The nachos sounded good, the perfect football food, which was fitting since TV’s lining the walls were showing all the college games that were currently going on, but I saw somebody else’s plate of nachos, and decided against it. There is a huge difference in nachos that have shredded cheese and those that have cheese sauce, and as a person who prefers the latter, I decided against the grated cheese version offered up by Huey’s, and went with the always reliable burger.
There is a vast selection of burgers to choose from depending on your preferences and mood, and after glancing at the numerous options, I decided on the Bluff City Burger, which is one of my favorite burgers in the city for which it is named. A thick patty topped with bacon, barbecue sauce, fried onion straws, lettuce, and pickles, the Bluff City burger is a in a word, fantastic. My biggest hang up on Huey’s in the past has been the side dishes, because I don’t like their steak fries which in my opinion are too big and devoid of flavor, and I don’t like their onion rings, which are literally the biggest onion rings I’ve ever seen, and the fried batter on the onion doesn’t stay attached very well so inevitably you end up munching on a big chunk of hot onion, but now Huey’s has stepped their game up with the new addition of tater tots. I got them as a side, and this was the first time I’ve ever eaten at Huey’s and thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the meal, so it’s definitely going to have a place on my short list of favorite restaurants to go-to because everything from the burger to the tots was perfect. PERFECT. The only bad part about the meal had nothing to do with the food or the restaurant itself, but with me, or rather my debit card, which was declined when attempting to pay for my food.
I had enough money in my account, so I couldn’t understand what could have possibly gone wrong. The waitress had the good grace not to announce to the table that my card was declined, and instead told me that the machine couldn’t read my card, but we all knew what was going on. Thankfully my dad stepped in and handed back his card, saying that he would pay and we could settle up later, or else I wouldn’t have had any idea how I would come up with the money because the only card I had on me was the one that wasn’t going through and I had absolutely no cash on me. I pulled up my banking app at the table, just to make sure that money hadn’t been taken out of my account without my knowledge, and, as expected, my account still had the balance that it should have. The problem ended up being that my card was locked, something my wife did as a precaution last weekend after our other account was used fraudulently to make unauthorized purchases, and my wife just forgot to unlock it again. I was embarrassed that for the first time my card was declined at a restaurant, and that it happened in front of my dad and Mimi, but at least there was a logical and reasonable explanation for why it happened so I guess that was kind of a relief. Despite that one misstep, everything about the meal was great, and I would one hundred percent recommend you checking out Huey’s ASAP to get a fantastic burger and to try their new tater tots, just make sure before you go that your debit card hasn’t been locked by your wife or you might end up having to wash dishes at the restaurant, or possibly getting your dad to bail you out.
Hot black coffee on a cool, overcast morning takes me back to Paris, walking around the cobbled streets of the city enjoying everything around me, which is strange because the only time I ever remember having coffee on either of my trips there, I wasn’t walking around the city at all, but was rather thousands of feet in the air somewhere between Amsterdam and Paris. I was on an airplane with my dad, fourteen years old, and outside of the United States of America for the first time in my life. I had survived my first flight ever, from Memphis, to Amsterdam, so was a seasoned and confident air traveler by the time this second flight rolled around, so I was more carefree, relaxed, and laid back, my stomach no longer clenched tight, and open to the possibility of filling it with whatever food and drinks the airline had to offer, which just so happened to include coffee.
This was the only coffee I remember having on the trip, and come to think of it, it wasn’t even black coffee. This was before I became a coffee purist, freeing my morning beverage of gallons of cream and piles of sugar, so it is strange to me why drinking black coffee on an overcast and cool morning makes me think of something that has no apparent connection whatsoever. It’s really fascinating to me, like I would love to have the kind of free time to just spend hours every day sitting around and thinking about why certain things conjure up memories of other things that seemingly aren’t related, but I’ve got a life to live and a blog to write, so I guess I’ll just go ahead and get back to it. While coffee on the plane was great, what I was really looking forward to was the food. I know, in hindsight it seems weird to me that I ever looked forward to airplane food, but having only been on one flight before, where one of the meals on the plane was breakfast, my favorite, so I hadn’t been jaded yet to the realities of airplane food.
The stewardess came around after the drink service was finished, offering one thing and one thing only, cheese sandwiches, which sounded absolutely perfect to me. Just bread and cheese, the title said it all, no unsavory condiments or slimy lunch meats; I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one. My dad tried to warn me, tried to tell me the truth and bring my expectations back down to a reasonable level, and whether it was the high altitude or the excitement of trying new things in a new place I do not know, but I didn’t listen to him or heed his warning. I stuck out my hand for a cheese sandwich, making the single greatest mistake, even to this day, of my entire life of air travel. I opened the wrapping and between two large pieces of crusty bread, was cheese, yes, but it certainly was not the star of the sandwich. No, that role was saved for the half jar of mayonnaise that had apparently been dumped on the bottom half of the sandwich bread, the excess of which flowed freely out the sides of the sandwich, making sure the person who had made the terrible decision to accept this “meal”, would have a sticky and smelly reminder on their hands for the remainder of the flight. I knew within seconds that I had made a mistake, and the look on my face must have given me away, because my dad, a fellow hater of mayonnaise, sympathized with me and told me that I didn’t have to eat the sandwich. He had tried to warn me about the over abundance of the most disgusting concoction on the planet, but I hadn’t listened, thinking his hatred for the stuff was clouding his judgment, causing him to exaggerate, thinking foolishly that I would be able to scrape it off onto a napkin and it would go undetectable on my taste buds. Even though he told me that it was okay, that I didn’t have to eat it, I felt guilty about it, so I nibbled at the edges of the bread, hating every bite, for as long as I could, before giving up, rewrapping the sandwich, and shoving it as far down into the seatback pocket in front of me as it would go, like if I pushed it hard enough it would return back to hell from whence it came. For all I know that sandwich is still there, thirteen years later, stinking up a plane that makes the forty minute flight between Amsterdam and Paris, making terrible memories for some other poor soul.
Why can’t I ever have normal neighbors with normal dogs? Is there even such a thing as a normal dog? I know, I know, every creature is unique and special in their own way so it’s wrong of me to think that any dog is normal in the sense that it is just like other dogs, so I guess what I should be asking is why I can’t have well behaved neighbors with well behaved dogs. I’ve talked before about the dog that would bark at all hours of the night, ceaselessly keeping both me and my wife awake, and the neighbors didn’t do anything to stop it, because it continued, day after day after god forsaken day. Then finally, one merciful day, weeks after my mind had drifted into a crazed oblivion, driven there by the incessant barking, it finally stopped. The moving trucks arrived and the neighbors, determined to make more noise than their loudmouth dog, emptied their apartment shouting back and forth and hitting furniture against the doorframe of the apartment, the bangs and clangs a farewell symphony for my least favorite neighbors that I’d ever had. When the apartment below mine was finally occupied again, the new neighbors seemed nicer, not that we made a point of getting to know them, or even talking to them more than a polite head nod in passing, because it’s 2017 in Memphis, not 1957 in Mayberry, but they were nice in that they weren’t excessively loud and weren’t yelling a lot like the previous tenants, and there was absolutely no sign of a dog or any other barking animal for that matter. I was in paradise, or as close to paradise as I could be so far away from any sign of the beach.
Then a new neighbor moved in, this time right across the hall from me, so close that if we walked out of our apartment at the same time we would be face to face on the landing above the stairs, which is too close if you ask me, but you didn’t, so go ahead and strike that altogether. The good news is, there isn’t a noise problem, but the bad news is there is another problem, that is possibly way worse than that of a barking dog. You know how I haven’t written much about going to play disc golf lately, how after the last time I became fed up with all of the big dogs being allowed to run free of their leashes with no regard for the general public? Well this is along those same lines, instead of now being able to avoid it by not going to a particular park, it’s happening where I live, so I really can’t escape the problem unless I move, once my lease is up, at the end of June, which is no good for me. The new neighbor has a pitbull and I know that not all pitbulls are dangerous, and this one may be the sweetest and gentlest dog in the world, but there’s still no reason for someone to take their dog outside where other people live, regardless of its breed or size, and not keep it on a leash. It’s irresponsible and downright un-neighborly, and as citizens of this great world, we shouldn’t have to stand for it, the constant fear of a strange dog charging towards you. If you kick, you’re a monster, but if the dog bites you, it’s just being a dog, playing around. Plus, PLUS, it’s against the rules of the apartment’s special pet addendum that has to be signed if you want to have a dog or a cat living with you, which I know because I had to sign one for both of my “beloved” Chihuahuas . So now every time this dog is outside, I’m terrified for my life, thanks to the traumatic experience of being attacked by a German shepherd in a French restaurant more than ten years ago, and I find myself checking the peephole before I leave my apartment, making sure the beast isn’t patrolling the landing just outside my door, waiting longer in my car after arriving home until the dog gets tired of running around in the area between the parking lot and the apartment building and heads inside.
If it were that, and only that, the no leash thing, I would still be upset, sure, but not as upset as I am currently, because on top of totally disregarding the leash rule, the owner of the dog doesn’t pick up after him when it uses the bathroom. He doesn’t even attempt to feign interest in performing the civil and responsible duty of picking up his dog’s massive piles of excrement, like he doesn’t even carry a bag outside with him to act like he’s doing the right thing, so now, every time we go outside, we have to constantly be on the lookout, heads bowed in reverence, searching for the horse-sized piles of dog crap. This too, is a clear violation of the apartment’s rules, and it’s really annoying to me that this has been going on for a couple weeks now and nothing has changed, but when I hung a Memphis Grizzlies flag up on my balcony, which disturbed absolutely nobody, I received a notice that I was being fined for the flag, citing the lines in my lease about not having “debris” on my balcony within a few days of having hung it outside. I could call the apartment office, and let them know what is going on, ratting out my new neighbor, but I really don’t want to be that guy, that has to run to the authorities if I want anything changed. Why can’t everyone just behave in a civilized way? That way the responsibility of being the snitch wouldn’t have to fall on someone who is very uncomfortable in the role. I guess the right thing to do would be confronting this neighbor face to face, just telling him that it’s against his lease to let his dog be free off the leash and to not pick up his waste after he uses the bathroom, tell him that I could have gone to the office and told them, but I wanted to talk to him first, man to man, and see if we could resolve this issue on our own. I wish I were the type of person that could really confront someone, but unfortunately I’m doomed to be the coward, always shirking uncomfortable situations in favor of sitting quietly in the shadows and waiting for them to pass, so the likelihood of me confronting my neighbor is virtually nonexistent, so the question now becomes, do I send an anonymous tip to the office and risk being stuck with the unsavory title of “Kendall the Rat” or do I lie low and hope that it resolves itself all on its own? This isn’t rhetorical, I’m really asking for your advice. Help me! Lest I end up hiding from the dog and stepping in dog poop for the next eight months. Any and all tips are appreciated to resolve this issue with my crappy neighbor.
A couple weeks ago I wrote a blog post about catching some fraudulent activity at work, detailing the event and how I came to the conclusion that something wasn’t right. It was a proud moment for me, using everything I’ve learned working at the bank this year in stopping suspicious and fraudulent activity from continuing, but if I’m going to talk about my triumphs, the things that I do well and am proud of, then it’s only fair that I also admit to my mistakes, when I don’t catch something, and when I screw things up at work, and that, unfortunately, is what I’m writing about today. This past Saturday was my weekend to work this month, and it was busier than any Saturday I’d worked thus far. There was long line to the door for just about the entirety of the four hours in which the bank was opened, and I was on my feet running transaction after transaction, nonstop for the entire shift, and it was in the midst of this hectic rush, that I cashed a check that I shouldn’t have, and today it has come back to bite me.
I got a phone call first thing this morning, by a customer asking for me by name. He had contacted the branch I worked at on Saturday and was given my name as the teller who ran the transaction to cash a check on his account for a fairly large sum of money. I put him on hold and looked up the transaction and sure enough, I did cash the check, and I did remember cashing that specific check, because the background image was of the football team, that I also cheer for. The person who brought in the check to cash didn’t have an account at our bank, so I did my due diligence and compared the check I was holding to other check images, making sure the signatures, handwriting, and the check numbers all lined up, and I made the decision to go ahead and cash the check, because everything looked to be in order. In hindsight I wished I would have just called the account holder to verify the check, but nothing I found in looking at the signatures gave me any reason to be suspicious, but all of this could have been avoided with a simple phone call.
Apparently the check was a good one, and the account holder had written it to the person whom I met on Saturday morning, however the problem was, that the check had already been deposited into a different bank’s account the previous day through mobile deposit via a photograph of the check. Because it hadn’t been scanned into an actual deposit, there were no physical signs of the check having already been run, so I obviously didn’t even think that it had already been deposited, so I cashed the check, gave the man the money, and got the phone call with the bad news this morning. The customer who had written the check, was in contact with the person who cashed it, explaining that he didn’t think the mobile deposit went through and just decided to cash it, but there’s really nothing I can do about it at this point. Hopefully the man will bring back the money since the mobile deposit hit his account, but it’s really out of my hands. If I’m lucky the money will be returned and it won’t count against me, because it really is a lot of money, but I’m just trying to stay positive about the worst mistake I’ve made since working at the bank, and will use this as a learning experience going forward to make sure that something like this never happens again. Maybe next week I’ll be back to writing about something positive that happened at work, but today, it’s all about admitting that I messed up, but I’m not going to let that keep me down.