Friday, 4 November 2011

Computer Says No

The worst thing that can happen to a human being with a bank account happened to me today.

That’s right.

MY CARD WAS DECLINED. In a busy supermarket, no less.

Usually when this happens, you’ll have the usual wave of panic sweeping over you. You will almost definitely say something along the lines of “That shouldn’t have happened! I have more than enough in my account!” whether or not you know it to be true.
The thing is, though, I knew that I had enough money in my account. I KNEW. Right up until the point when the cashier said “Your card has been declined”, that is. Up until then I had been sure.

But then, at that moment, a little voice in my head went “Are we really surprised?”

Nevertheless, I maintained an outward air of indignation and looked the cashier right in the eye, daring her to contradict me. She didn’t. As it happens, she was really nice. I was just (like a normal person) hideously embarrassed by the whole situation and wanted to blame it all on her.

“Would you like to contact the bank?” She said, all awkwardly.

“No. They’re about to get a personal visit.” I replied, sounding more like a serial killer than I had intended.

With that, I left. With none of my shopping. Let me tell you – I will never go out into the world without cash ever again.

About ten minutes later, when I arrived at the bank, all hell had broken loose.

The whole of Lancaster City Centre had come to a complete standstill. According to one helpful staff member, "the bank [had] broken". Computers had shut down, tills were no longer accepting cards, the cash machines were pretending people had no money – terrifying.

I really have no idea what this means for the world, or the country, or anything else. All I know is that I WAS RIGHT. And it took every screed of energy within me not to march back into Sainsbury’s and tell the woman at the till.