Monday, September 07, 2009


On the way out to a friend's place with The Flatmate late last night, I discovered that I needed some cash, so I got The Flatmate to drive us up to the nearest ATM.

The nearest ATM is at the local shopping centre. After 6pm most suburban shopping centres in this city are inhabited solely by dodgy teenagers, but my local shopping centre is pretty much the only one in the state without a McDonalds, and as such the dodgy teenagers stay away. Instead, dithering old people have moved in to claim the turf and take up the slack.

As we pulled up in The Flatmate's Saab, I noticed a dithering old couple meandering about the ATM, as if they wanted some money but were afraid of all this high-tech witchcraft. The old woman pecked at the keypad, displaying the body language of someone unsure as to whether they'd receive fifty dollar bills or a hand grenade with the pin pulled.

I stood back and politely allowed the dithering old people to make their transaction. They seemed to notice me and finish what they were doing, then stood aside and waved me in.

I put in my card and punched in my PIN. The machine clattered to itself then started ticking, as if it were trying but failing to return my card. "Oh crap," I thought, as neither money nor card appeared. "This is one of those ATM skimmer scams or something." But eventually the screen regretfully advised that something had gone wrong and it had decided to retain my card, which is beyond the abilities of most ATM skimmers. I gave it a good glaring, which didn't achieve much, then muttered angry words and stomped back to the Saab with an empty wallet.

When I turned around to get into the car, I noticed that the dithering old people had returned to the machine. I called out a warning that it was broken, but they didn't respond. Then I noticed that the old woman was trying to stick her supermarket rewards card into the machine, and it suddenly dawned on me that they were probably the ones who had broken it. For all I knew the machine's input was clogged with a dozen of their liquor store loyalty cards, Blockbuster membership tags, Medicare cards, Seniors cards, drivers licences and Two For The Price Of One pizza vouchers. Presumably they'd decided to just keep sticking bits of plastic into the machine until it gave them money.

Further proof that old people shouldn't be allowed out at night.


Blogger MC Etcher said...


Actually taking the card inside the machine is soo 1980's. Why can't all card readers be formatted as swipers?

I'm guessing it's because they want to write data to the card regarding the most recent transaction, but this can't be necessary.

1:11 AM  
Blogger Blandwagon said...

I guess that internalising the card allows the machine to keep it if it decides that something fishy is going on. Or if it's just having a bad day and feels like being a bitch.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Laziest Girl said...

It's more likely that our banks are cheapskates and don't want to spend all that money replacing perfectly serviceable card-retaining ATMs with new fancy swipe ones.

Either that or it's a conspiracy to drive us into the bank and therefore pay their exorbitant fees.

3:00 PM  
Blogger TimT said...

As I approached my flat yesterday afternoon I absent-mindedly pulled out my travel ticket - I was apparently expecting to be able to validate it to get through my door instead of, you know, having to unlock it.

1:47 PM  

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