At first, I wanted to write a serious essay about Time and how we use it effectively. Then again, I’m very sure so many people had written volumes to make this point adhere to the adage, “Time is gold.”
Two o’clock in the afternoon, the mild drizzle had not stopped. The minute droplets accumulated at the back of my shirt, giving me some cause to worry about my health.
I was unlucky to stand last at a very long queue of ATM customers. Patiently, I waited for the line to shorten.
Minutes later, my wish did not materialize. There was something holding the line to stay at a standstill.
Feeling the flow was not going fast enough, I elected to give my next best option a try: withdraw money over the counter. Not only I could get away from the prospect of getting the colds but also I could sit comfortably inside the bank.
One of the guards motioned me to open my knapsack so he could inspect it. Using what looked like a drummer’s stick, he deftly rummaged inside while looking out for any suspicious object that would prove I was ineligible to enter the place. Luckily, he found nothing objectionable.
I sat down at a corner sofa, near a tall and imposing air conditioning unit that blew near frosty mists. I was somewhat afraid of its rumbling that the image of Megatron crossed my mind: he was holding the All Spark in his hand and transforming the unit into a menacing robot, ready to zap me for being human.
Convinced that that scenario was not going to happen, I noticed the signage on the wall behind me. The message was clear: the use of any electronic gadgets inside the bank is not recommended. It was a polite way of stating: Follow or else!
I would not even test breaking the rule. Besides, my unit had a low battery charge. Good riddance.
More minutes passed. I kept hearing the muffled complaints of those sitting beside me. I realized it earlier but I was grateful to be seated in a dry place. Only their continued murmurs of slow service had me nodding in agreement.
What shall I do? I kept debating myself whether to stay or go back outside. Personal health won over personal need.
Another thirty minutes passed that seemed like psychological torture. After every five minutes since then, I checked my watch. Crossing and uncrossing my legs were synchronized with that effort. That did not help much because it did not quicken time. It simply added to my restlessness.
I tried to close my eyes. Almost immediately I annulled the idea. It would be very embarrassing if a stranger (if ever he or she knew my name) nudge me awake after failing to hear that my turn was called. Or worse, I woke up and learned I was bypassed for being inattentive.
Also, such idea of catnapping would be intolerable especially if I fell into a snoring episode. People would naturally gawk at me. Some would show indifference but others might think I am a freeloader, using the bank premises as my personal sleeping quarter.
When I tried to open my knapsack to squeeze out the remaining juice of my unit by listening to some music, I sensed that someone watched over me. I looked at the direction of the door. Indeed, the glaring stare of the guard was trained on my person. The silent admonition was very succinct that I imagined him caressing the holster of his gun to make his point more understandable.
I was uneasy especially when the music I want to listen to was held hostage inside the cellphone, which I could not use.
Unable to calm my nerves, I started humming. The song I chose did not sit well with those near me. I guess at that time they did not appreciate the song “Don’t worry. Be Happy.”
Five minutes to three, another guard from inside a room came out and announced something I did not like. His words were couched as a mild mannered reminder: meaningless to me because I was on the verge of actually standing up to protest. I was held back abruptly to my chair due to the realization that I might be tagged as a common criminal for airing my grievance vocally. Like the library, the bank required hushed voices. Other than that, any raised voice would correspond to a misdemeanor.
For keeping my cool, I was blessed to be called for my turn. Third from the last, I stood up with no remorse that I went inside. All the negative thoughts about the bank were erased in my mind.
The amiable female teller smiled at me, holding my card and the withdrawal slip together. She waited for me to come closer.
I smiled at the guard first, or was it a grin? My smile had not left my lips when the teller paused to say something.
After she finished her short monologue, I tried hard to control my temper. What she uttered was a bombshell to my eardrums.
“Sorry, sir. New regulations state that only Passbook Accounts will be serviced over the counter.” Like all banking notices, you have to read accurately, lest you fell in the crack as the exemption. I was.
Incensed for being treated unjustly, I came to the realization that any argument with the employee would be useless. Even her apology of not telling me earlier of the rules because my card and slip were inadvertently covered by papers, gave me no recourse but to retreat less gentlemanly.
Looking more like a whipped dog, I retreated toward the door where it was the guard’s turn to show his toothy grin. That was the salt to my wounded pride.
To salvage the situation, I reverted back to my first move: get money via the ATM machine. Naturally, I was overjoyed to see that only two people stood in front of the machine. By the looks of it, they were companions.
I stood well behind them to give them more privacy. I was sure the waiting would not be too long. However, I began to admit to myself that I was most probably jinxed at that moment. Whether I was correct or not, I could only wait for the bad news to come.
The two people that stood in the way for me to confront the money dispenser, took more than the necessary period to complete their transaction. I guessed there was some sort of an argument going on.
“What’s the matter?” I asked impatiently. The tenor of my query was not friendly.
“This dumb machine says no more money.”
I did not give a rejoinder. I just walked away. There’s no point blaming modern technology for the ineptitude of humans.
– o –
Instead of “Time is gold,” this anecdote can be titled, “Time is wasted.”