Janesville56.2°

There’s high finance, then there’s slow finance

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Rick Horowitz
September 15, 2009
Slice o Life No. 682. File Under: Too Wimpy to Survive.

So there I am, last Saturday afternoon, pulling up to the drive-thru ATM. Its a perfect late-summer day. Its also my lucky day: Theres only one car ahead of me.


Actually, theres only one car ahead of meand one pedestrian. Theres a guy standing there. Mid-40s maybe, in a T-shirt, shorts and sandals. Hes waiting to use the drive-thru, too.


No problemIve done that myself from time to time. Call it a walk-thru ATM. So Ive got two customers ahead of me.

Except that the guy on foot is waving me past.


Go ahead, I tell him. You were here first. No problem.


Im not ready yet, he tells me. He still has to fill out his deposit envelope.


Fair enough. (I tried.) And I pull ahead, and pull to a stop a non-intrusive distance from the other car. In a minute or so, the driver is done with her business and drives off. I put my car in gear and start to roll forward.


Im ready now.


Its the guy on foot. Whatever he had to do with his deposit envelope, hes done it. Can he reclaim his place in line? Absolutely! No problem.


So the guy crouches in front of the machine, punches the keys, slides the envelope into the slot. When hes done, he looks in my direction.


Im sorry. One more. Im sorry. He also needs to make a withdrawal.


Hey, I tell him, a smile on my face. Youre just doing what the rest of us are doing: Put money in, take money out. No problem.


Im sorry, he says, and punches a few more keys. Out pop the dollars, and Im ready to roll.


One more. he mumbles. Im sorry. Im sorry.


I raise my palmno need to apologize. One extra transaction isnt going to ruin my day. (Its a beautiful day.)


He punches a few more keys, and now hes saying Im sorry even while hes doing his punching. Hes also muttering something about how frustrating it is to get money from this machine, although hes actually getting money from this machine. Im the one who isnt getting money from this machine.


By now, theres a car in my rear-view mirror, and the thought crosses my mind: What if the machine runs out of money? Its been known to happen on a weekend afternoon.


Im sorry, he saying. One more?


Do it, I tell him. I can feel my smile tightening. This iswhat?the fourth One more? The fifth? Its hard to keep track, because the One mores and the Im sorrys have started coming in a continuous stream now, and its impossible to know when one transaction ends and the next one begins. I can only imagine what the driver in my rear-view mirror is thinking. Maybe hes thinking its a beautiful day, and hes not in a rush, and no problem.


Or maybe hes about to go homicidal.


Im not about to go homicidal. Im the mildest of men, and Im simply being my normal neighborly self. Accommodating. Flexible. I can always


One more?


Now youre taking advantage.


Who said that?


I said that. I actually heard the words coming out of my mouth. Nothing angry. Nothing threatening. A simple statement of fact.


And he leaves. Just like that. All it took was a little bit of standing up for myself.


Im the mildest of men.


But even a patsy has a breaking point.


Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at rickhoro@execpc.com.

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