Thursday, October 21, 2010

This Just In or Robbing Banks: What's Up with That?

The Ann Arbor police are searching the area around the Eisenhower/Packard Bank of America for two gunmen who tried to rob the bank, firing several shots in their aborted attempt. According to the University of Michigan emergency alert system the suspects are still at large, armed, dangerous, etc.

This raises the question: who the hell robs banks anymore?

I understand the appeal. Believe me, I do. Bank robbers are as firmly rooted in the American cultural subconscious as Moms and Apple Pie. We can all of us recite how they go down. The perfectly executed entry into the bank. Taking control of the situation: disarm the guards, gather the customers and employees in a central area. One of your confederates manhandles the manager in front of the vault. "Open it!" your coconspirator shouts, spittle hitting the inside of the mask that hides his true identity. The manager's sweaty fingers fumble at the combination dial. A few false tries (from the nerves) and it's open. Then the cash, the greenbacks, the dough is in front of you, lined up like soldiers on parade. And it's yours. A car or horse chase, a risky maneuver, victory and freedom snatched from the jaws of certain capture and defeat.

Except it never happens like that. Butch and Sundance were gunned down in South America. Granted, modern day law enforcement has grown somewhat more humane than la policĂ­a Boliviana of the nineteenth century (although the would-be Robin Hoods in Ben Affleck's The Town fared little better than did Mr. Cassidy and the Kid). So why do people keep robbing banks?

Maybe this is why:

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