When an ATM at a bank in Texas started spitting out handwritten notes calling for help, rather than tens and twenties, bemused police thought they must be the victim of a prank.
But the officers duly investigated the cash dispenser at a waterfront Bank of America office in Corpus Christi, after clients said they had received perplexing notes saying "please help."
Far from a candid camera-style hoax, the officers were amazed when a little voice came out of the machine, The Washington Post reported Friday.
When they kicked down the door leading to the ATM's service room, they found that a repair man who had been called to fix the lock had been stuck inside for hours, having left his cell phone and the device needed to open the door on the outside.
"You can't just turn the knob and exit," police spokesman Lieutenant John Hooper told the Post.
Unable to contact the outside world, the desperate contractor had started writing pleas for help on pieces of paper and pushing them through the dispenser to customers expecting to receive cash, not supplications.
One of the notes read, "Please help. I'm stuck in here, and I don't have my phone. Please call my boss" -- with a phone number included.
Police freed the worker, without releasing his name or the company he worked for.