Not just the fundamental issue of having to rely on a machine to present me with my own money in order to buy food to ensure my on-going survival – it’s something a little more prosaic than that.
It’s the beeps. The nagging beeps that harass you to remove your card or remove the money once it’s been squeezed out through the machine’s mealy-mouthed pinch rollers.
I get that the beeps are there as some kind of auditory spur, to prompt you into physically interacting with the machine at the appropriate time and in the appropriate manner. I get that they are an aid to informing people with visual impairments that a step in the process they have undertaken has just been completed.
But I hear the beeps as an impatient nag. An antisocial klaxon that announces to the world that I haven’t removed my card or my cash quick enough for the machine’s liking. It’s like beeping a car horn at someone because they aren’t moving fast enough or are in your way.
I find myself constantly in a race against the machine’s sensors; trying to whip out my card before the machine can get in that first beep; cursing when I inevitably fail to do it. Because let’s face it most ATM’s have a grip like a pornstar sucking… er… an ice lolly (for example).
The beeps are just too abrasive. Too impersonal. Too open to negative interpretation.
Surely a recorded voice would be better? Somebody like Kate Winslet softly intoning things like, “Thank you for using me to fulfil your transactional needs – you may now remove your huge wad from my slot.” I wouldn’t mind if the world and his daughter heard that emanating from the ATM I was using.
Of course, these messages would need to be carefully regulated and recorded solely off-site. Giving the local cashiers access to recording their own messages would only lead to trouble. Messages like “You can now remove your penis from my portal” or “You have been too late with your withdrawal and there is a chance I am now pregnant” would undoubtedly turn many a head in your local branch of HSBC and not in a good way.
But all things considered they would be an improvement on the beeps and might even be good for business. I’m sure I can’t be the only person who would rather the world saw me as a pervert with a cashpoint fetish rather than just another slightly OCD nerd.