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The Grapes of Wrath Make a Passable Chardonnay

Thursday, June 23, 2011
Jobless man asks judge for jail time

POSTED: 2:55 p.m. EDT, October 12, 2006
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A man who couldn't find steady work came up with a plan to make it through the next few years until he could collect Social Security: He robbed a bank, then handed the money to a guard and waited for police.

On Wednesday, Timothy J. Bowers told a judge a three-year prison sentence would suit him, and the judge obliged.

When this story began to circulate on the internet,
some people said it “sounded” true;
others said it was probably an urban legend.

Still others decided it was time to go to the bank.

The elderly gentleman stopped, just inside the front doors of the Lorraine, Ohio branch of the Bank of America, and began to talk about the weather with the uniformed guard. It was just small talk, a pleasant, if somewhat boring, conversation – the sort of thing that happens everyday, making the day feel a little more human, yet utterly forgettable.

The man's wife carefully filled out the appropriate slip of paper, then waited patiently for the next available teller. She noticed the nameplate at the counter and, when it was her turn, she said, "Good morning, Charlotte -- what a pretty name -- I'd like to make a withdrawal, if you don't mind."

She placed her purse on the counter, and handed the paper to the young teller.

"Certainly, ma'am," she smiled professionally at the nice little old lady. When she looked at the withdrawal slip, she saw that it was blank. "Sorry ma'am – I'm afraid you forgot to fill this out."

"Silly me," she replied, "just turn it over, Charlotte."

On the back -- in neat, if slightly shaky script -- were the words, "This is a robbery. Please keep away from the alarm button, and put only the contents of your drawer into my pocketbook." The teller was stunned, but the whole thing was done so calmly that she did exactly as she was told.

The guard, whose attention had wandered away from the pleasant old man's monologue, noticed the look on the teller's face and started in her direction. The old man beside him interrupted his commentary on all things meteorological, and said, "I wouldn't do that. I have a gun, and I would much prefer that we keep all this on a sociable level. Don't you agree?"

The guard looked at the gun. In fact, he never took his eyes off it as the elderly couple walked slowly out of the bank.

When the police asked for descriptions of the robbers, neither the teller nor the guard could say anything more specific than, "Longish grayish white hair. Glasses. He might have had a small beard or mustache -- I didn't really notice. You know… old."

The surveillance tapes confirmed everything the witnesses said. There was absolutely nothing distinctive about the robbers.

They looked just like all the other bank customers.


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