getting laid ... off!

Wednesday, feb. 11, 2004   |   0 comments

I am having the weirdest day. First of all, layoffs in the office again, which is always totally surreal and tedious. Everything is infused with a horrible “on hold” feeling, no work getting done at all, what everyone huddled in corners, “Did he…?” and “What did she …?”-ing away. Also, I can’t seem to print anything, I think the network’s down?

But just in general this day is weird, wrong, off. From the second I left the house this morning, I could feel it. The elevators weren’t working in my building, the escalator was out in the BART station, everyone on the street was moving too slowly or standing in my way. The busker at the BART station wasn’t playing a guitar or a banjo or anything normal like that, he was strumming a HARP, playing some lilting ditty never heard outside the magical city of Brigadoon.

It’s like, did a time traveler screw up the space-time continuum or something? Did someone go back into time and prevent an essential COG from being invented? Some heavily relied upon piece of logic?

That’s exactly what I was thinking, “Is there a disturbance in the space-time continuum?” when the ATM machine ate my card, just froze right in the middle of me transferring money from savings to checking so a check I just cut would be covered. So I’m standing there, staring at a screen that says “processing transaction” for like five minutes. I pressed “cancel” and “correction” and then all the number keys, then all the buttons at once. Nope.

I was sure that the moment I went inside the bank to talk to someone, the machine would fix itself and invite the wide world to do another transaction, say, suck out three hundred dollars. But standing there indefinitely wasn’t really the greatest planeither. So I furtived into the bank and hijacked the first teller I spotted and hurriedly told him of my predicament. He looked at me uncomfortably and said, “ahhhhh, hmmm. Yeah … we don’t really have access to the ATM machines?” “You’re kidding.” “Yeah, no.” “Well, can you call someone?” “Umm,” he sort of aimless wandered toward a manager type standing a few windows down. “Well, I’ll be outside here, waiting in case my card returns,” I told him, and then raced back to my machine, which of course was still stuck.

I waited outside for another few minutes, but no one came outside or anything, so I went darted back in and asked the guy again, and he was like, “Yeah, there’s not much we can do? The people that maintain the machines only come once a day?”

And that was about the time that irrational and angry Evany, whom I’m not very proud of, made her appearance. The thing is, I was getting the money so I could buy coffee, i.e., I hadn’t had any coffee yet? Plus, you know, layoff day. And the harp-player weirdness?

I turned to another, more official looking person behind the counter, who clearly had been listening to my whole deal, and asked, “I’m sorry, do you work here?”

“Um, yeah?”

“Is it true that you can’t access the ATMs at all from here, you can’t even unplug that one machine?”

“No, we can’t even access machines, it’s a totally separate operation.”

“Don’t you think that’s a little insane?”

“Well, ma’am, it’s a matter of security, there’s cash in those machines, and …”

“Wait, this is a bank, right? There isn’t cash in here?”

“OK, ma’am? This is what I can do for you, I can cancel your card and issue you a new one.”

“Right here, now, I’ll get a new card?”

[SIGH.] “No ma’am, the card has to be processed and activated offsite.”

“And I’ll get issued a whole new number?”


“Which means that I’ll have to contact all the different entities that I’ve lined up to automatically charge my check card.”

“That is correct.”

“The thing is, my phone company recently split into two separate companies? And I don’t even know who is taking what from my account? And basically I have no real idea what’s going on with my finances at all. And I think I’m getting laid off today.”

[BLANK “this woman is crazy” STARE.] “I’m sorry.”

At this point, the original “Umm” teller came around the counter. “Let me see if I can make the machine work.”

So I went back out with him and watched him press all the same buttons I did, and of course it did nothing. “Yeah, it doesn’t look like it’s going to give you back your card,” he said.

“Right,” I said.

“So you don’t really have to worry about anyone stealing your card.”

“But you can’t exactly guarantee it isn’t going to pop out all of a sudden?


“I guess I should cancel my card?”


“And maybe you should put an ‘Out of Order’” sign on this thing?”

“Yeah, huh, maybe?”

[INTERRUPTION! I just got called in to the little room! And given my walking papers! So I’ll just wrap this up … ]

So I went back inside to the bank and the woman canceled my card and I went out and wrote “OUT OF ORDER” on a deposit envelope, licked its seal, and pasted it to the machine. Then I came into work and then four hours later, I am now all laid off! I guess I can finally go get some coffee. Just put that $2.75 latte on my credit card?


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