Once upon a time, a few decades ago the only way to get money from a bank was to go in to a branch when it was open.
In those days that was from 10am to 3pm, Monday to Friday.
If you needed money at any other time you had to find someone willing to accept a cheque or wait until the banks opened again.
It’s about 30 years since we’ve had hole-in-the-wall money machines which make it easy to get cash almost anywhere at any time – providing you have enough in your account and remember your pin number.
There might be a good time to forget your pin number, but it’s not at 5pm on the Thursday before Easter.
I was on my way to the Farmers Market when I stopped to get some extra money, entered my pin, decided I’d got it wrong, cancelled the transaction, retrieved my card, put it back in and entered another pin.
The machine told me I’d got the pin wrong. I tried again and got the same message. I retrieved the card, started walking back to my car, realised I’d been using the credit card pin on a cash card, stopped at another cash machine, entered the correct pin and got a message saying the bank was keeping the card for security reasons.
I had enough cash in my wallet for the raspberries and strawberries I wanted from the Farmers Market so carried on to it. As I got out of the car one of our staff hailed me. I told her I was cardless and she immediately offered to lend me some cash.
I thanked her, said I had enough for what I needed to buy, walked 10 steps and ran into someone else I knew. I didn’t tell him the bank had swallowed my card but if I had I’m sure he’d have offered me some money.
I walked another 10 steps, ran into a third friend, told my cardless story and got another offer of a loan, reminding me yet again of the joys of small town life.
My next stop after the Farmers market was the supermarket where I paid by credit card, somewhat nervously until I saw the machine had accepted my pin. I went home from there and my farmer gave me some cash to tide me over the weekend.
I managed to get through the weekend without needing it and rang the bank frist thing on Monday to find out how to retrieve my card.
In the old days I’d have been able to phone the branch. These days there’s just an 0800 number and the bloke who answered told me the bank would have destroyed the old card I’d have to get a new one.
Being cardless and potentially cashless for a weekend hadn’t been as bad as I’d feared but having to wait several more days for a replacement would be more trying.
Given it was only 1 minute past 9 on the first business day after the card was taken, I was hopeful there would be way to retrieve the old card and asked to speak to someone in the branch.
After one of those awful pauses in which music you’d never voluntarily listen to was piped down the phone, someone from the branch came on the line, told me the bank still had the card and if I came in with ID they’d give it back to me.
I did that, got the card and tried it in the cash machine outside.
The pin worked, the machine gave me back my card and the cash I’d requested.
It felt to good to be with card and with cash again – and I think I’ve got the number memorised properly now.