I’d always had a good relationship with my bank machine. I gave it checks. It gave me money. It seemed like everyone got something out of the arrangement.
But one day I stopped off to make my weekly deposit, slid my checks in as usual, and waited. Instead of the usual clicking noise, I heard something that sounded suspiciously like paper being … chewed.
“Hey, what are you doing in there,” I squinted at the machine.
The ATM stopped chewing, and then belched out my checks. They were crumpled and slightly torn.
“Unable to deposit checks at this time,” said the message on the screen. My ATM card came shooting out of the machine. I wasn’t sure if I had done something to offend it or if the machine was just having a bad day. I held my hand up to my mouth and checked my breath. Then I reinserted my card. After punching in my code, I tried to load my mangled checks. This time it accepted one, but not the other. I heard the chewing sound again and then my check and my card both came flying out.
“Okay, look!” I said angrily. “There’s no need to be nasty about this. If you don’t want to accept the check, fine. But you don’t have to spit it at me.”
The ATM made a grinding noise. I was pretty sure it was giving me the raspberry.
I gave up trying to deposit the last check, and reinserted my card to get some cash. There was a lot of whirring and cha-chunking, and then my card came back out.
“Unable to give cash at this time,” said the message on the screen.
“WHAT???” I demanded. In frustration, I punched all the buttons at once and then banged on the screen.
The ATM went blank. A moment later a new message came up.
“Out of Service.”
Suddenly I was nervous. I thought maybe I had done something to really mess up the ATM. It was one thing to antagonize the thing. It was another to commit ATM-icide.
I drew in my breath and walked into the actual bank.
“Excuse me,” I announced. “I think I killed the ATM machine.”
The tellers all looked up at me.
“It might not actually be dead. But it’s definitely in a coma,” I said uneasily. It was completely possible that at that moment, a teller was stepping on one of those emergency silent police alert buttons and any second a SWAT team was going to bust in and arrest me, which would really stink because then I’d have a police record and I’d also be late for my afternoon appointment with a chocolate donut.
I stood there awkwardly, waiting for someone to either deposit my check or take me into custody.
Finally, the bank manager approached. He smiled patiently at me.
“How can I help you?” he asked.
“I was trying to deposit some checks and the ATM went belly up,” I said.
He nodded, took my mangled check, brought it to the teller, and then returned to me with my receipt.
“You’re all set Mrs. Beckerman,” he assured me.
I looked around at all the tellers still staring at me.
“I bet you’re hoping I’ll just leave now, right?” I said.
“Actually,” he grinned. “I’m banking on it.”
Tracy Beckerman’s new book, Barking at the Moon: A Story of Life, Love, and Kibble is now available. W. Bruce Cameron, author of A Dog’s Purpose says he is “utterly charmed by the whole thing, cover to cover.” It is available on Amazon.com.