Friday, March 14, 2008

Semi-Automated Teller

I'm waiting in line for a bank machine. There are two of them side by side. A woman in her 50's is at one of them, and a woman in her 20's is at the other. They both have their heads down, dealing with transactions. Both machines are beeping as the ladies press various buttons.

I wait patiently.

Suddenly the younger woman whips around to face me.

Younger Woman: How do you deposit a cheque into this thing? Do you know how to do it?

Me: Uh, yeah, sure. I can help you.

I'm in a good mood and not in any hurry. I think: I can help her out to speed things along. It won't be a big deal. But then the older woman turns towards me.

Older Woman: How you put in cheque? I need make deposit. You help me.

The odds are so against this. I have never, in 23 years of using bank machines, been asked for help by even one person. People usually keep to themselves, respecting each others' financial privacy. And suddenly two women are both demanding to have me look over their shoulders and assist them with their transactions? It seems very suspicious.

But what can I do? Now that I've offered my services as onsite tech support, I feel committed. Besides, I want to use a bank machine, so I've got to get at least one of these ladies sorted out and on her way.

Younger Woman: What do I do?

Me: You press that key, that says "Deposit".

Older Woman: This right? How I do?

Me [to Older Woman]: OK, now press "End of items"

Younger Woman: Like this?

Me [to Younger Woman]: No, wait, you have to type it in with the decimal place. Here, press the "Cancel"...

Older Woman: Why no savings?

Her machine is giving her the ominously low-pitched "BOOP BOOP!" of an error. I look at her screen and the "Savings" option is grayed out. She is pressing the soft key next to "Savings" aggressively and repeatedly, despite the booping.

I try to explain that she must not have a savings account with this bank, and wouldn't she like to deposit the cheque to her chequing account? Meanwhile the younger woman is trying to regain my attention.

It goes back and forth like this for several hectic minutes, each of them blundering hopelessly as soon as my back is turned, and then canceling their transactions and starting from scratch.

Finally the older woman gives up and leaves the machine to make a call on her cellphone. The younger woman manages to enter her cheque amount and put the cheque in an envelope. I correct her when she tries to feed the envelope into the wrong slot on the machine (the one the printed receipts are dispensed from), although the correct slot has a flashing light over it. Then, as the envelope disappears from sight, she panics:

Oh my god! I made a mistake! I put the envelope in upside-down!

I assure her that the bank will not reject her deposit, even though her envelope wasn't oriented exactly the same way as the illustration over the envelope slot. So she immediately gets on her cellphone and starts digging in her handbag.

The older woman may not have managed to get her cheque deposited, but at least she thanked me before she took off!

No one jumped out to tell me that I'd been punked, so now I'm convinced that I was being observed by scientists. Next time, I'd like to just get my cash and ignore everyone around me, like usual.


Warped Mind of Ron said...

LOL, that is crazy. I am always mumbling to myself that they should not try to use the machine if they can't figure it out fairly quickly. If it's that complex to you, go to the bank teller and get it taken care of. You are a very patient person.

jameil1922 said...

you should see my face! that is insanity! i need them to walk it on in the bank if the process is that confusing to them!!!! hahahahahahaha.

Leighann said...

I would have had to have turned around and ran away LOL

1218Blog said...

What a super strange experience! I would have thought they were scamming me or trying to steal my money or bank card number some how. I am so paranoid!

PixieVonAzia said...

Well I'm sure they have all kinds of mental disorders and such and I do feel for them but that's my opinion whether medical or just regular. Thanks for letting me know about that fact =)

Maxie said...

I've had a similar experience with a sheetz touch machine... seriously.

Keera Ann Fox said...


But I have days like that where there seems to be a theme to what is happening.

R.E.H. said...

I think because the one dared to ask for help and the other one was struggling herself made it easy for her to ask as well. Had the younger one not asked the other (foreign?) one would never have opened her mouth ;)

But, that does sound like a weird situation - and helping them both out simultaneously must've been kind of difficult ;)

unsigned said...

Two on one action!



Did you end up with receipts all over your face?

Did they make you "lick their envelopes?"

Did you experience a "multiple transaction?"

Withdraw... Deposit... Withdraw... Deposit... Deposit. Deposit! DEPOSIT!


And all this time I thought ATM stood for "Ass To Mouth."

Silly me!

Aurora said...

Huh, I have never been asked either. It completely breaks the banking/queuing/public transport code of politeness. Older woman particularly sounds like she's ordering you around. Sometimes people can be really insistent at getting others to help; I'm always kind of awed by this presumption. May you have many quiet bank withdrawals from hereon out.

Jenski said...

You must have an honest face! Sometimes I feel really paranoid, even when no one is in the ATM area with me, that someone is watching and waiting to steal my ATM card. Then I laugh that this faceless person thinks they would get any amount of money out of my pathetic account even if they had my PIN number! Hah!

Sparkling Red said...

Ron: I'm not always that patient. They caught me on a day when I was feeling benevolent and motivated to embrace humanity. Sometimes that mood comes over me - must be some type of temporary insanity. ;-)

Jameil: I would LOVE to have seen your face while you were reading that story.

Leighann: I may do that if there's a next time. ;-)

1218blog: Yes, those thoughts crossed my mind, although I had no idea how it would play out as a scam. The weird part is, and I forgot to mention this, that when I got to the bank machine, the light standard directly over the keypad was open and the bare bulbs were sticking out. Made me wonder if someone tampered with the machine... but these machines are INSIDE the bank, in a separate vestibule, so I think they're safe.

Pixie Von Azia: Sometimes I feel the need to be opinionated... And I also respect your feelings.

Sparkling Red said...

Maxie: I guess there are a lot of confused people out there. Banks should offer automated teller training courses to help these people out.

Keera: Yes, theme days. I know what you mean.

R.E.H.: That's probably it - the first one asked and gave the second the feeling that it was okay to ask for help also. Someone had to go first to break the ice.

Unsigned: Bu-what? Wow, you really took this post and ran with it... to somewhere far, far away from where I started. Sounds like you're having fun, wherever you are.

Aurora: Thanks for the good bank machine wishes. :-)

Jenski: I do have an honest face. People often pick me to ask for directions. Unfortunately I have a rotten sense of direction, and several times I've realized ten minutes later that I instructed them to get on the wrong streetcar or whatever. Oops!

I think it's natural to feel a bit paranoid around ATM's. I always keep my guard up just in case.

San said...

Red, I'm expecting to see you on one of those reality tv shows where they have a hidden camera. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for the Molly Ringwald look-alike.

Entertaining, very funny post. I love the way you caught the dialogue.

Sparkling Red said...

San: Thanks! It would be funny if I ended up on TV. Although I'd never have a moment's peace at a bank machine ever again!

Nicole said...

Uh, it's nothing better than polite people, no?