Wednesday, March 11, 2009

ATM Impasse

Once again, I go to the ATM.

This ATM has the good keys -- the ones that are cheap yet functional. The plastic is invented in China by the man who puts the melamine in the milk. Software is written in fucking India. Concept: Idaho. Execution: Thailand. Usage: New York City Abusage: See above. Recyclable: (Infinite lifecycle)

"Everything is so global," I mumble to myself, in my woolly trenchcoat, in my pocket fingering my electronic cigarette like some kind of a nicotine pervert. This is when she arrives.

After waiting the appropriate thirty seconds, she asks me politely whether I am using the machine.

I know you can imagine the expression on my face, now that I have been seduced into this situation. Because you've been there too. "I'm just standing here for kicks," I say, curtly.

"Are you at some kind of ATM impasse?" she says, now breaking into a smile that makes her face orange. "Do you want me to ask if you have enough cash in your bank account in order that you may boast to me, albeit cunningly?"

Slowly, around us, existence follows its usual course, yet in that same time dilation I am suddenly energized ... a ... vergence in my body. And she, coming out from this time dilation, starts getting impatient. She looks into the store, trying to see if there may be an owner to complain to.

"What would you say? Guy is holding up the ATM machine?"

"Well, I wouldn't say 'machine'. Look, what's the deal? You need some money?"

"No," I reply. "I'm just here." I look at her seriously. "A ghost next to the machine."

"It's not fucking funny," she says, and stamps her feet upon the pavement. "Look, just move."


"Why?" The wind is blowing -- she is wearing mauve tights. Her hair, light brown, floats faster than the background. She sizes me up. "Where are you failing?" she says, adding kindness into her tone.

I turn back to the ATM and make my mouth look sad. "I'm not happy with the authentication system."

She puts an arm around me. "Maybe I can help," she tweets.

"No," I say, and violently shake her off. "Nobody can help me."

I don't think, at this point, that she really cares about the ATM anymore. I think, at this point, she cares about me. "I know Nobody," she says. Her voice, at that one moment, is the most incredible sound in the universe. She knows Nobody.

"I had a sequence. Something I always did," I elaborate. "It was picture perfect. Worked like clockwork. Ran like a hamster."


"I used to be able to just push the buttons and enter my code."

She shifts. "Ok. Now you can't just push the buttons? Enter it?"

"No. Now it just always says I've failed."

"We can make it easier," she says, and now she takes my hand in hers, gently. "We can do it so that the ATMs just look at a slice of your retina, for example." She is so perpetually constructive.

"You're trying to mix up the act of undergoing laser eye surgery with existential questions about logins? It almost seems to work, but actually does not," I shrug.

"Ok, well, then we can just make it a fingerprint. Just put your finger on it, money. There."


I can see she is getting irritated by me. "Here, I'll show you my tits," she gasps, "ok, then you fucking match my goddam tits against queries in the machine. You get to look at all these tits while also wondering about tits, subconsciously. Can't get any better."

"No, I want to have the buttons there."

"But you don't remember your code, man." She is positively jittering on the pavement. "You don't know the code."

"There is no code. There's just buttons, for me to press. Then I get access."

This is where she breaks off and runs away from me. She says I am being unreasonable (highlighting the importance of the word 'reason') and turns away. It breaks my heart. She's going away to the other block, to the ATM at the other block. I'm crushed.


An old man sidles over, and I ask him what the hell he wants, grand-dad? He runs off too. Like I'm some kind of ghost.


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