(New York, NY, USA)
I rubbed my eyes. Nothing changed. I frantically pushed "Print Receipt" on the ATM screen, and as the ticker tape rolled slowly out, I ripped off the balance sheet and scanned the document. No, eyes did not deceive. There were nine zeros there. $1.2 billion in my checking account.
I glanced over my shoulder and noticed the growing line of people waiting to get to the machine. This bodega at 1AM was not the place I wanted to announce my discovery. I finished up my transaction quickly and stuffed the twenty dollar bill I had taken out of the account into my pocket and quickly shuffled out of the store, attempting nondescript, but I knew I must have seemed wide-eyed and frantic.
Outside, I leaned up against the doorpost and lit a cigarette. I looked down at my crumpled receipt and looked again, blinking my eyes, wondering if I had somehow gotten drunk without realizing it and hallucinated the whole thing. Again, $1.2 billion dollars stared straight back up at me. I stood there, smoking my cigarette, and considering the possibilities. Maybe I had gotten a raise from my job, I laughed. Or maybe I was the middle man in some kind of scheme -- had I agreed to furnish such a quantity of cash to someone or something and I just didn't remember? Something told me that, first, no one in their right mind would entrust me with over billion dollars, and second, I would not have forgotten if they did. The ATM must be wrong, I thought, and this brought me momentary comfort. I would go to the nearest branch and check the balance at the bank's ATM, see my paltry savings account, and feel relief.
I hopped a subway and planned to stop at Columbus Circle where I would be nameless. Ten minutes later, standing in the foyer of my bank, I was looking at another balance sheet that corroborated the bodega's ATM readout. A billion dollars. One-point-two billion dollars.
The bank screwed up, I settled. And what of it? They should have known better. They probably meant a twelve dollar debit, not my fault they can't keep their money in check. I considered a moment, realizing that I was given a thirty five hundred dollar limit on withdrawals per day, and the bank was going to very quickly realize their error. I turned and maxed out the withdrawal from the machine, stuffing a wad of cash bigger than I'd ever held in my hands into my pocket, and I made the subway again. It was time to do some research.
I was watching the train pulling into the station when there was a sudden sharp pain in the back of my head. I woke up on the platform, blood running down my face. My money was gone. The bank's money, I suppose I should say. I had been robbed. I scrambled to my feet, looked both ways, realizing that hours had passed since my initial discovery. I ran up the stairs and out into the morning sunlight. I ran to the bank, pushing in front of the line of people waiting to transact, to the teller's window. I said nothing at first, and then the story poured out of me. The teller raised an eyebrow, turned to the left and pushed a button on the wall, summoning security and supervisors.
The bank screwed up, everyone agreed. I had screwed up worse for not leaving the money alone. It wasn't a billion dollar mistake, but they still weren't pleased.