Thursday, February 9, 2006

Rebate Check

All I want to do is deposit the silly little $10 check from Linksys on my lunch break, which is already a little long because I went home and dozed off watching Sportscenter. So I go into scenic downtown Pascoag ("It's safe to drink the water now!") to our local branch. I prefer to use the ATM instead of waiting for a teller and there's only one person at the ATM vs. 4 or so inside. I wait for a minute while the lady hits buttons and stuff, politely staring in other directions, observing the unspoken rule that you give the person at the machine as much privacy as possible ... but it gradually becomes evident she's puzzled. It's like the lady at the gas pump a few weeks ago who couldn't figure out her Stop & Shop card and credit card do different things, but that's neither here nor there. This lady finally turns to me and says "I don't know why I can't get money out."

Well, a number of things tell me I'm going to be late getting back. For one, the machine is at the start screen, indicating a card was never put into it. For another, this woman has two teeth, very far apart. And not many women would leave the house with hair that looked like that: rubber bands in odd places and a wacky part. So she starts telling me how she can't get the money, but she knows the PIN and she'll tell it to me, can I help her?

Look, I don't mind helping out in certain situations, but crazy people (like the one who wanted to use my cellphone outside the convenience store a few weeks back) sometimes forget that they asked for help and start thinking they're being scammed or something and I don't want to touch her card, know her PIN, any of it, so I calmly (but persistently talking over her attempts to give me her PIN and SSN) explain it would be best if a teller helped her, since they're experts at operating the machine. After several minutes of these negoatiations I finally get a teller to come out and help her, and then the real fun starts as we are treated to the story of why she's getting money, how she can't remember whether she is supposed to take from the checking or savings account, demonstrating how she tried to put her card in the deposit envelope drawer, etc... and somehow I'm part of the story as the nice gentleman who tried to help but couldn't figure it out either -- I give the teller a look that says "believe me, I can operate an ATM" -- and several people have come and gone in the meantime, obviously entertained by the proceedings.

The moral of the story is, if you are are going to get gas where you can use your discount card, attempting to deposit a rebate check, or leaving the convenience store with a gallon of milk and an impulse purchase of some Hostess Cupcakes ... don't get behind the car where the person operating the pump is inserting numerous cards and punching buttons seemingly at random, don't let anyone tell you their ATM card PIN, and don't give anyone your phone unless you want it back vaguely sticky and smelling of stale cigarette smoke. Here endeth the lesson.
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