Automatic-teller-machine rage

LOOK, an automatic teller is no big deal.

I’m 60, and I can use one. By all the natural laws of the world no-one over 60 can work anything with buttons, unless it’s your fly, and sometimes not even then.

But for once in my life I am grateful for the electronic world. You insert your card into the machine, you punch in four digits, it asks you what you want to do, you tell it — and it’s usually withdrawing money — and it does it.

It takes me less than 30 seconds.

There are people out there who can take three days.

Forget road rage and telephone rage. I am about to invent automatic-teller-machine rage.

I want to stride up to the idiot in front of me in the queue, grab him by the lapels, and scream: “Look, you idiot, you don’t have any money in there! It’s no good standing there shaking your head and trying again. You’ve already spent it, or your wife has, or your kids. Now get out of my way and let me have a go!”

Then I’d shove his bankcard in some handy slot, preferably one that caused him maximum pain, and take his place.

I want to know how there can be so many people who have not learned one of life’s most basic lessons. That is: if your bank account is empty, it’s because you spent it!

Please do not send me letters explaining that in your case it was an administrative error. I won’t believe you. I went through my formative years believing it was the bank that had stuffed up – every week!

Every week, when I finally sobered up, I worked out that the bank was right. I’d spent it. That was in the days when you used to do old-fashioned things like talking to bank tellers. It’s true they were a toffee-nosed lot who would explain to you, using their fingers (and not just the middle one) the fatal flaw in your maths.

But at least they were real people! And it was precisely because they were real people that we all maintained a measure of civility. Now it’s just a machine in a wall, and a queue of people who have learned that the accounting error is not the bank’s – it’s their own.

And standing in my way making bewildered and indignant noises is not going to change anything. Going through the whole process again is not going to change anything.

Get out of the way and let someone else have a go!

This is what the modern world is doing to us. We no longer share anything. In the queue in the bank, despite the supercilious smugness of the tellers – perhaps, even, because of it, we could share a certain sympathy with our fellow customers.

Out here on the street it’s dog eat dog. Or, more frequently, the machine eats your bankcard.

The bloke in front of you isn’t a fellow customer. He’s the bloody competition!

Mark my words, it’ll end badly, as sure as my pin number is 4810.

No… hang on… that’s the Townsville postcode… No… give me a minute… I’ll remember it in a second. Shut up you moron, I get three goes! Old and stupid…. waddya mean, old and stupid! Of course I’ll remember.

Waddya mean, don’t bank on it…!