Yesterday, the bloke in front of me was looking at the ATM as if it was some type of space craft that had just embedded itself in a wall after crashing through the earth’s atmosphere from a distant galaxy. “It’s a cash machine, fella. Just get on with it,” I'm thinking. He then proceeded to try and put his card in the wrong way and, when the machine rejected it, pulled it out and began staring at it as if it was the card's bloody fault. My feet were now doing an impatient shuffle as if the scraping on the pavement might alert him to the fact that there are other people on the planet and that he hadn’t just found his own personal ATM. (My sense of urgency was driven by the need to get money for a parking meter, knowing that I would then also have to change the notes into coins by buying something completely useless that I didn't want before some officious uniformed Dr Martin-booted wardengestapo geezer noticed my vehicle had not ‘paid and displayed’).
Finally, when he had eventually managed to insert the card the right way round and miraculously get his PIN right, albeit only because he entered each number in such a laboriously deliberate fashion it was not that surprising (even a Panda with boxing gloves on could have managed the same feat in that time frame), he then began to stare at the screen. My shuffle had turned into the sort of ‘dance’ a toddler does when he’s busting for a wee... and my mind was raging, “Mate, what were you expecting to see? The Top 20? A documentary on The Great Wall of China? It's a friggin’ cash machine. You never used one before? It’s not as if you’re twelve. Somebody has entrusted you with a cash card so you must have a modicum of intelligence. Just choose how much cash you want...’cos that is ALL it does, dispense cash...and then sod off before my car is lifted off the street and towed away to a compound where they’ll charge me more than I originally paid for it to get it back out again.”
After several more seconds deliberation, he made a decision and his card re-emerged. “Go. Go. Go,” my brain is screaming as he turned, removed his card from the machine and placed it back in his wallet in some sort of formal ritual. Then out popped his cash. A tenner! A bloody tenner for all that palaver. Again, my mind blazed as he examined the tenner like he was a sniffer dog looking for traces of coke before sliding it into his wallet. “No way. Surely not. If you do, I’m gonna take a running leap and Kung Fu kick you, Cantona-style, through next door’s butcher shop window.”
But he did. He topped it all off. He waited for the cash slip...