Bob Huber : local columnist
When things go wrong, someone is always there to say, “I told you so.”
And that fosters in me a vengeful yearning to do the same thing to them.
But I never had a chance until one day I was in Levelland, Texas, and a money machine outside a bank went zonkers and ate my credit card.
I should mention here that the wind was blowing hard enough that day to put West Texas in New Jersey, so rather than fight the machine outdoors, I went inside the bank and explained the situation to a lady vice president.
She was evil. I could tell. Her eyebrows grew together over her nose, and tiny droplets of spittle rested in the corners of her mouth. She bellowed, “The machine did WHAT?” Everyone in the bank turned to look at me.
I whispered, “It ate my credit card.” I was suddenly aware that I hadn’t shaved that morning. In fact, I had on dirty Levi’s, and my hat had a sweat stain halfway up the crown. I tried to remember if I’d brushed my teeth.
She heaved an enormous sigh born of loathing for people like me who couldn’t tell a CD from a hole in the ground. “I suppose I’ll have to open the machine,” she said.
I nodded but said, “I’m sorry. The wind’s pretty bad out there.”
That’s when my Moment of Chance presented itself — the one time in my life when the stage was set for me to later say, “Lah dee dah, I told you so.”
But she only snorted and paid no attention, leading the way outside where she shook her head at the wind like a gnarled, old buffalo.
Without looking, she unlocked a hidden latch on a massive door on the back of the money machine, and flung the door open, exposing racks of bills.
That’s when paper money filled the air, sucked from the machine like a Frosty in the hands of a 10-year-old. It reminded me of a swarm of green butterflies as it fluttered through a nearby drive-in restaurant where customers froze mid-bite and gawked.
That’s also when I looked in the machine and saw my card wedged sideways in a plastic channel. “There it is,” I said, and retrieved it.
The evil woman didn’t say anything. She didn’t even look up. She just stood next to the machine as the cloud of money floated further away from the bank. I’ll admit to a small smile on my face, and —I couldn’t help it — I said, “I TOLD YOU SO!”
So, you ask, what finally happened? I never really knew, but I can imagine:
Somewhere east of Levelland a farmer walked into his fields to inspect the wind damage to his cotton crop. His head drooped low and his back was bent from a lifetime of west Texas weather. His eyes misted over as he thought of his tortured life and his burned off cotton crop.
Finally, with a tear streaming down his cheek, he looked at the sky through the blowing dirt and repeated a question that had bedeviled him for years. “Why me, Lord?” he said. “Why me?”
As if in answer, the wind paused briefly allowing the sky to suddenly fill with fluttering money. It landed at the farmer’s feet like soft, green snow.
Sometimes I think my life is a conspiracy, because I’ve witnessed so many strange events. How many folks ever visited Levelland and saw a swarm of money blow away? But what the heck, only a handful of folks even know where Levelland is in the first place.
Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales. Some of his stories are mostly true. He can be contacted at 356-3674 or by e-mail: