13
Sep
06

My Faith in Humanity Tourists Restored

I am notorious in my own mind for leaving my card in the ATM. When withdrawing money, people are usually given their cards back these days before they are given their money — I think. Wasn’t always this way. It’s one of the great technological innovations of the last five years or so, in my opinion. Still, however, when making deposits at an ATM, we are not given our cards until after we make the deposit. The banks want their money. They don’t want people to make phantom deposits to give themselves a temporary bonanza of Monopoly money before the beancounters figure it out the next day.

So, when I make a deposit at an ATM, I almost always forget my card — until the machine starts squawking or beeping at me. There was a period a few years back when I lost my ATM card once a month for three months. It wreaked havoc on my online billing accounts. I have since recovered.

This is not to say that I am never forgetful when making withdrawals.

Tonight, when I left the ATM anteroom, I reflected rather pridefully that I didn’t forget my card. (It’s the little things, right?) However, the shocker came when a young woman ran up behind me a full block away from the bank, calling, “Sir? Sir!” to inform me that I had left the ATM without my money.

I thought she must be talking about someone else. But when I checked my wallet, the $40 I had just taken out was indeed not there. I gasped audibly.

“Some people have your money,” she said. “The people who came behind you. They’re at the bank looking for you.”

I thanked her profusely.

Then she gave me perhaps the funniest bit of information: “They’re tourists.”

I made a run for the bank.

Was that final detail meant to help me recognize them? Or was she drawing a contrast between tourists and New Yorkers, as if to say that a local would never pass up such opportunism? (I once saw a $20 sticking out of an ATM — with no one around. I walked right past the machine. When, a minute later, the devil on my left shoulder had knocked the angel off my right shoulder, I went back to the ATM and found the cash gone. Yay! With a faceless stranger safely designated the “bad guy,” I was free continue my life as a self-righteous Midwesterner.)

Either way, I made short work of that $40 at the bar minutes later.

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