“Well…….I don’t like banks”

This baffling and absolute declaration of sentiment was Bones’ reaction to his latest statement from a large, faceless institution whose name rhymes with Bells Margo. In an apparent give-and-take of interaction, my brother was attempting to close down an account at the aforementioned institution and was down to dickering over the last, like, 26 cents. He’d tried all the usual routes: hours in the phone tree, unmotivated customer “service” people, halfhearted attempts to actually go IN to the bank and mostly cursing to himself that in fact these people ARE out to get him. He’d even tried to just let them have the 26 pennies, please stop wasting your paper and the mailman’s time, let’s just end this already, COME ON!!

As a fan of the human condition, most notably when it involves the insanity of those closest to me, I shot an eyebrow up in curiosity. Smelling the blood of familial weakness, I found this both hilarious and inane. This could not go unexamined:

me: “What do you mean, ‘I don’t like banks’? As in you’re one of the New World Order / Tri Lateral Commission/ IMF weirdos that goes around protesting crap in a gorilla mask? Or do you not like the concept of people handling money? Are you somehow offended by the architectural layout of banking institutions? Is this some sort of class warfare idiocy that you and your counter-revolutionary friends sit around scheming up? What in the hell are you talking about?!?”

Bones: “No, no, no, no, definitely not. Definitely not. (that statement, by the way, cinches the fact that RainMan lives). I just, you know, had this thing with the bank, and, you know, it was just all this crap, I mean, here’s how it went down……”

After recounting the details of his transactions and after I finished cleaning the beer up that I’d subsequently launched from my nose, I took a moment. You see, of all the wonderous traits that my brothers and I have inherited from our illustrious and prolific father, “Bones” Gulje may well have won some sort of lottery from hell. He’s not only certifiably OCD (in my non-professional opinion), he’s a pleaser (kinda like me) and absolutely non-confrontational (um, not so much on my end). And, as his oldest brother, I have taken many liberties at torturing him like a terrorism suspect. From idle pastimes such as asking him to reschedule a workout in order to witness the awkward reaction to interrogating him about his maniacal cleaning habits, I just can’t get enough.

My obsession with obsessive behavior is not limited to just one brother however. Ask my wife the next time she climbs a flight of stairs how many were there and she can tell you THE EXACT NUMBER. EVERY TIME. I can barely remember where all the tools on my fire truck are stored, and that’s my damn job for crying out loud. My father-in-law, as the supreme arbiter of this behavior (at least in the circle of people I know), used to make his daughters “jiggle the door handle” a specific number of times before leaving the office. He covered his hands with his sleeves when entering their homes, if they happened to be homes that included pets. His girls made him watch the movie “As Good As It Gets” only to have him respond with “I like that he has a schedule. I see nothing wrong with that.” Around the firehouse, there are certain crews that, if not served their lunch at 1100 on the hour or dinner at PRECISELY 1700 will pitch verbal tantrums to rival any room full of two year olds jacked up on sugar. Interestingly enough, the very people I work with, those who deal with the unknown on a call-by-call basis, are slaves to certain schedules, rituals and traditions that define the essence of who they are as firefighters, parents and people.

I’ve come to realize I don’t have any OCD tendencies, which, while a positive trait to most, actually pisses me off. I thrive on chaos, whether it be a raging house fire, delving into the sordid details of a friends’ messy divorce, or even taking it to an extreme like having string cheese for breakfast. I have no schedule to keep, save for the going to work thing. You wanna play hockey on Sunday night? Cool. How about growing pumpkins on a 1  acre patch just to see what happens? Sounds totally reasonable, at the moment. What do you think about moving to Missouri, see what that’s like? Um, okay.  In fact, if I make believe it’s my own idea, even better. Then the genius can flow, if only in my own mind. Result? I end up being a fan of old-school reggae and ska AS WELL AS bluegrass NOT TO MENTION the lyrical stylings of Bad Religion, a quasi-punk, social commentary hard band I love. This sucks. I’m gonna end up transitioning from “my, what eclectic taste you have in so many ways” to that dude pushing around a shopping cart full of plastic bags screaming at no one in particular, destined to die in an abandoned apartment surrounded by cats and old TV Guides.

I’ve got to develop a routine before this destiny reaches its fruition while there’s still time. I need to stop mocking Bones, maybe follow in his shadow for awhile, take a lesson. Maybe we can season this love of chaos with a little good old fashioned scheduling. I don’t know. But I think I’ll head into a local bank and see if their very existence can upset me, if only for a bit.