Thing no.48

2006

Sunday morning in Ramsgate and a woman is standing by the cash point looking slightly confused – but I’m in a hurry and I need cash. She doesn’t seem to be using the machine, so I put my card in the slot and its mouth sucks the plastic inside. I tap in my code, choose an amount and wait for the transaction. There is the diligent noise of notes being counted and then the murmur of wheels expelling my card. The card appears in the slot but instead of being offered to the world, the leading edge catches just inside its lips. I try to grasp the plastic but my fingers are too fat to reach it and it rests millimetres behind the opening. Seconds pass and the screen has the message ‘please remove your card’. I can feel its cogs waiting but all my efforts to prise out the plastic fail. I need a tool. I search for my keys but before I find them the screen changes ‘time has expired’. There is another faint murmur of cogs and the lips suck the card back in.

I look around – everything on the high street is closed including the bank. I’m at the seaside with no money and no card. The woman is still standing nearby, she looks and me and says ‘that just happened to me’.