The Loiterer

Loitering5A well-groomed man in a jogging outfit stands to the right of an entrance to a bank on a cool Fall morning. He’s just standing there, with his hands in his pockets, gazing at people passing by and periodically smiling at those who enter and exit the bank. After about an hour, a man in a business suit comes out of the bank and approaches the man. He identifies himself as a bank employee and begins to question the man in the jogging outfit.

Bank Employee: Is there something I can help you with, Sir?

Man: No. Is there something I can help you with?

Bank Employee: Yes, actually, there is. You can tell me why you’re standing out in front of this bank.

Man: No. I can’t.

Bank Employee: What do you mean you can’t? There must be a reason why you’re just standing out here. What is it?!

Man: I’ve no reason. I’m just standing here. Is that a crime?

Bank Employee: Yes! Yes it is! You can not just stand in front of this bank all day and harass our customers. It’s just wrong.

Man: I’m not harassing anyone. I’m just standing here. If it’ll make you feel better, I’ll move.

Bank Employee: Great idea. Have a nice day. You weirdo, you.

The man takes his hands from his pockets, steps away from the right side of the bank entrance, and crosses over to the left side. He then places his hands back into his pockets and resumes his people gazing.

Bank Employee: WHAT?! You CAN NOT DO THAT! You need to leave from here or I’m getting the manager!

Man: No. I like it right where I am. I’m not bothering anyone. Go ahead. Get the manager. I’m not moving.

The bank employee grunts and storms back into the bank. 5 minutes later he returns with another, older, man who says he’s the bank manager.

Manager: Hello, Sir. My employee here tells me you are being unreasonable and are refusing to leave from the front of the bank. I’m going to have to insist you move from here. You are bothering our customers and creating an unnecessary disturbance.

Man: OK. Fine. I’ll move. Again.

The man moves from the left side of bank to the edge of the sidewalk directly in front of the bank. He then stands, smiles, and stares directly at the bank manager. He does not block the bank doors nor the manager in any way, as he is about 12 feet away from them. Regardless, the manager is infuriated by the man’s move.

Manager: That’s it! You CAN NOT stand here in front of this bank like this! You are BOTHERING people! You are making a damn fool out of yourself! There are laws, mister! And you NEED to abide by them! Now MOVE!!!

The manager charges up to the man and shoves him. The man trips and falls backward onto the street. He lands hard on the back of his head and is killed instantly.

Manager: Oh, GREAT!!! That’s just bloody great! Now I’ve a dead guy lying in the goddamn street in front of my bank!!! Now I’ve got to call the cops and wait til they come to haul him away! Just GREAT!!! This will REALLY bother my customers!!! The cops better get here quick and clean this mess up. I’ve got a goddamn business to run. Goddamn, friggin’ loiterer! Messed up my whole day! When will people learn?! WHEN???! IT IS NOT OK TO LOITER!!!

The manager then takes his cell phone from his suit pocket and dials 911. He begins to explain to the operator what happened as people briskly walk past the scene. Those who came by to do business in the bank do not enter it. They are too bothered by what they see in front of them to go inside.


47 thoughts on “The Loiterer

  1. It is bad to be poor. Our loiterer dies for no reason other than because he is seen as being less than human.


  2. Like other comments here, this made me think (mostly about where you were going with this — and of course, I was waiting for a punchline, too. It was very visual, Jeff. But what came to my mind was the fact that in the end the bankers true colors were exposed. He had dehumanized the loiter.


    • That’s pretty much the point. In the end, who caused the problem that was blamed on the guy who passively stood there not doing anything? It’s those who who continually push issues onto others who are often the cause of the trouble they claim comes from those others. Who makes a big deal about gay folks wanting to get married? It isn’t the people who are in love and want to simply marry the person they love who cause the ruckus, it’s the loud mouth xtian right that makes the noise. They are the problem-not those they blame it on. That’s the “punchline” here. There is no punchline. There’d be no problem if the bank employee and the manager simply let the loiterer stand there harmlessly. A problem was created where there wasn’t one by the people saying there was one there that wasn’t.


    • I am reminded of Kathy over on Nate’s post. So many times she said “liberals” were liars and destroying America because they weren’t abiding by the hate book. And this behavior is so prevalent. I couldn’t agree more that they create the very problems they claim others are causing.


    • My inspiration for this bit, which was experimental, so if people don’t like it, that is perfectly cool, is Melville’s “Bartelby the Scrivener”. It’s a short story about a law office employee who’s response to every request is “I would prefer not to.” He’s totally benign, but drives the narrator of the piece utterly insane because of the craziness within him ( the narrator) that he projects onto Bartelby. I hated it the first time I read it cause I thought, “Where’s the punchline,” when I finished reading it. I had to go back and find it. I made a feeble attempt here to do the same type of story. I think the piece works, but then again, I’m divinely inspired.


    • I really liked John’s take on your piece too.

      “but then again, I’m divinely inspired.”

      Indeed you are. May the Sauce be with you.


    • Kathy is also a certifiable psychopath.


  3. This one really forces the reader to think…cause as other commenters pointed out, I was expecting a punchline of sorts. Don’t really know what to make of it, other than that the narrator seems to side with the loiterer, even though the latter’s death is considered a nuisance at worst…which makes me wonder what this story would have been like from a different point of view.

    On the other hand, I can also look at this as an edgy tale about how much society demands people to conform to one another, with the death of a non-conformist seen as an equation balancing itself out…

    Am I barking up the right trees here?;)


  4. Dammit, Mike Douglas, not Kirk.


  5. Made me think of that Kirk Douglas movie, was it Fallen? In that the character thought he was in the right the whole time, even right after he committed a murder.

    Didn’t even occur that he was in the wrong… you see that on a lot of levels out there in the cold dark world. Bigots, religious whackos killing for their gods. Sometimes bank managers having an authoritrian snit fit that leads to cold blooded murder.


  6. I love it.
    Don’t need no punch line.


  7. I was waiting for the punch line. It didn’t come. Now I suspect i missed something. No, I didn’t. I didn’t miss anything. I now suspect I’ve been shown something my brain doesn’t wan’t to register.


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