Automating Numpties

Being ‘busy ‘ has become the ‘new black’ , it is trotted off the tongue of all you meet, like a proud panacea for not doing this, that or the next thing.  I am as guilty as the next, indeed I used to say that ‘busy is my starting position’;  and so as a reminder that there IS only ever 24 hours in a day, nominated a full day to being determinedly NOT busy and to practice the art of ambling and generally having no real plan for each minute of the day. Of course this was fairly easy in the confines of the menagerie but I did need to do two main things on the appointed day, but decided that was fine, as long as there was no rush. The first stop, the bank.

Busy Banking

My local branch is not large, so you can imagine my surprise when I was greeted inside by a flash new fit out, complete with a ticket machine just inside the front door, with a large sign inviting me to “Take appropriate ticket”, ok, I will play.  Let me see….three choices A,B or C. A was unhelpfully labelled ‘Transactions’, isn’t everything you do in a bank a transaction thought I? but as B and C seemed to be two forms of enquiry I followed the herd and pressed the already worn A and was rewarded with a small bit of paper bearing a giant number A93, hmm time to look up and survey the queue. Apart from the new paint job, the branch had a new teller counter with four slots , two of which had actual bums on seats; and six small cubicles had been popped around the side walls. The middle contained a small square of brightly coloured cube seats, covered in fidgeting people and a long queue of about 25 fellow ticket holders, whose faces showed varying degrees of agitation.


My musings were interrupted by the booming of a disembodied electronic voice saying “Ticket B 103 to counter 2″…> good thought I, we will nip through this queue in no time (completely forgetting that I had all the time in the world today). But nope, nobody moved……slight pause and another two numbers got no ‘winners’ in the crowd; then an A number found a matching pair of feet that shuffled to the counter.  This carried on, with roughly every seventh number called actually having a person attached; clearly the machine needed adjusting or folk were more impatient than myself and left before being granted a conversation with a person; but with each wrong number the crowd tutting  got louder and the queue was growing. The stoic two tellers seemed oblivious, and barely looked up between people; as did the three employees in the cubicles, nil of which were serving people, and all intent on the screens in front of them….I am guessing they were the B and C numbers that folk don’t press. The woman behind me said ” whatever happened to just calling ‘Next’ ?”…quite, I nodded in queue camaraderie.

Taking Root

Just as I was taking root in the carpet tiles, my lottery ticket matched the robot voice and I won an audience with teller one; a helpful , grey faced young  chap with well chewed nails apologised that I had to wait “8.22 minutes”, he gestured to his small screen linked to the robot voice, and its recording of my initial button press. No problem says I, I just want to pay in this cheque [I know! an actual cheque in this day and age, but some kind soul had taken the time to write on it and put it in the snail mail to me; so the least I could do was hand deliver it back to its bank of origin and complete a two week loop!] Teller one is saying ‘do you know you could have deposited that in the machine at the front, beside the ticket machine?’, no, well I had seen it but thought I would only be here a moment or two; ‘I will show you’ he offers helpfully and starts to get up (to the horror of the queue behind me), no, I will be fine protests I’………but then appears a cubicle inhabitant to his rescue; a prepubescent vision in fuchsia polyester, ‘let me help her Tom, you are far too busy” she says and flutters her lash extensions at  Tom, the obvious object of a crush. The queue heaves a collective sigh of relief and my crowd eviction moment passes.

ATM input

I will be fine from here says I, as Miss fuchsia points out the cheque eating machine, ‘NO’ she says firmly, I will wait and show you…….(obviously my invisibility cloak of gardening cardigan and no makeup was nicely disguising my IQ); with her new found authority she showed me the slot to put the cheque in ‘oh, so I just put it in there?, how clever quips I’, ‘NOT until the machine tells you’ says she, I wouldn’t dare! laughs I, “press the button marked deposit cheque’ I am instructed, what now? are you sure? says I, attempting sarcasm , but Miss fuchsia doesn’t seem to mind as she is zoned out and inspecting her glitter tipped acrylic nails and, finding a gap in the glitter she inspects it closer. I resisted the urge to tell her she would find the missing glitter lodged in her keyboard under the F  shortcut key to her facebook page; which is what she was looking at when I was taking root next to her cubicle.


‘Do you want a receipt?’ she asks, as a final act of kindness to the numpty in the cardi; ‘ohh yes please’, I have been here for so long now I feel I should have a memento of the occasion and of this 20 minutes of my life that I wont get back. Having reached the end of the glittery ones attention span she reached over me and pressed the receipt button for me and presented me with the wee slip of paper with a flourish of achievement. Now she can get back to her online friends and talk about how busy they all are.

So am now a fully trained operator of the input part of an ATM machine (incidentally, I am convinced that stands for Automate The Masses), and if they add a wee TING noise to the ticket machine at the door I am sure I will respond with a time saving woof like a good little Pavlov.

* Mindful of sarcasm being the lowest form of wit, and learned that my boredom threshold is somewhere between zero and 8.22 minutes.