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Sometimes Humans are Faster

     Used to be, I’d drop my deposit envelope in the slot beside the ATM machine outside the credit union. Not so hard - filled out the envelope at home: name, account number, amount. Took a couple of seconds to get out of the car, drop the envelope in the slot and be on my way.

     And then some guy at the credit union got a splendid idea. Why pay all those tellers to sit and enter numbers into the computer? Why not have the customers do it at the ATM?

     He won. No more sliding my deposit envelope into the slot and taking off. Now I have to put my ATM card in the ATM card slot, even if I don’t want any money, and enter my PIN before I can drop the envelope into the slot. 

     But wait! The machine wants to know whether the money’s going to checking or savings and by the way, how much? Finally, I can put the envelope in the slot. Not that way! This way!

     I’ve been doing this for months. Feel like I’ve become a credit union employee without the paycheck. I give up my card, enter my PIN, tell the machine I’m making a deposit. Then I press the key that tells which account I want the deposit to go to and press the numbers to tell it how much I’m depositing. All the time I’m wondering how much the credit union pays tellers.

     Oops – I pressed the nine key twice and there’s no way to back up and change it. I have to cancel the whole transaction and start over. At least I don’t have to put in my PIN again. If I’m lucky I don’t press savings instead of checking and I get the amount right without hitting any keys too many times.

     You know, I welcomed all this technology stuff with great enthusiasm twenty years ago. I signed up for the first bill payments by phone when no one else trusted phones to get it right. I told the owner of the company I worked for, “Yes! I’ll use a computer if you buy one for me,” when my boss, a mathematical genius in her own mind, said she was having nothing to do with computers. Smart woman.

     But me - technology? Great fun! Efficiency without brain-strain. Let the machines do it. They’re smarter than I am for sure. And if they get it wrong, there’s always a way to undo it. I shed my writing tablet for the ease of tickling the keys of a shiny laptop computer. I bought the software that keeps track of your checking account and your savings, as long as you tell it everything you do.

     Lately I’ve been thinking. Seems like I get home from work and spend thirty minutes missing the evening news while I enter my checking and VISA transactions into the software program and tell it what account each one should be charged to – no, that wasn’t dining out, that was home repairs - and then when I look up three hours later, it’s ten o’clock and time to go to bed.

     Last Saturday it was such a beautiful day, I decided that instead of making my deposit at the ATM machine, I’d go inside and give it to a human for processing. Besides, I was tired of doing their work for them.

     There wasn’t a line. The teller greeted me with a smile and asked what she could do for me. I handed her my deposit with the account number on it. She typed a few keys on her computer, stamped the check and put it in the drawer. Could she do anything else for me? No thank you. She told me to have a great day and I walked out to the car.

     Sometimes humans are faster.

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