Back in 1998, ATM was still a new thing. Few people knew what it was; leave alone how it is used. I was in 7th or 8th standard, and was aware of how basic bank transactions work. Owing to my innate curiosity, I was more than eager to know how an ATM works. I would listen to friends of Uncle talk about it in awe, as to how one could withdraw cash from an apparatus in the wall, instead of the lengthy procedure we follow. Unfortunately, neither my uncle nor his friends knew the details or wanted to find out.

Having heard that it works on a card, I even tried to use it myself. Instead of an ATM card, the younger me grabbed a visiting card of the bank’s manager we had. Clearly, it didn’t work. I couldn’t even get pass the scanner which opens the door to the ATM cabin. I took the next logical step that I could think of, and walked inside the bank to ask one of their employees. Instead of my curiosity being satisfied, I was patronized and sent back out. They laughed off my curiosity and asked me to go to mommy-daddy. They wouldn’t listen that they (Uncle & Aunt in my case) also didn’t know.

My curiosity however would be addressed few weeks later. I was coming back from a game of cricket with friends, when I saw a man get down from his car and walk towards the bank. Since it was almost 8 in the night and way past the bank working hours, he went to the atm. I approached this uncle (it is common to address older men as uncle in India), and politely asked him if he could tell me how it all works. Instead of laughing or ridiculing me, he simply smiled and began to explain it in a matter of fact manner.

Once he was done with his explanations and answering more of my questions, he simply asked as to which school I went to and what my name was. Not only did he accept my curiosity and entertained it, but was happy that I was actually curious enough about such things to ask others about it. I walked into school the next day, proud of my knowledge of how ATMs work and eager to share the same with my friends.

I was called up by a teacher to the staff room. It turned out that this man was the husband of the teacher who had just joined my school. Imagine that. To this day, this is one of the encounters that I have had with a stranger that will stay memorable.


Post written as a Guest Author for the team of Project 365. The prompt was “Have you ever had a random encounter or fleeting moment with a stranger that stuck with you?”


Written for Day 21 of the A to Z Challenge.

14 thoughts on “The uncle at the ATM

  1. That’s quite a nice story, and it is good that you found a helpful stranger who instead of patronizing you actually went ahead and told you how an ATM works patiently. That is an attitude that is found lacking in most people today.

  2. It was really nice of the ‘uncle’ to demonstrate/explain how the ATM works. Of course, this happened 15 years back. These days, with all kinds of theft/robbery/cheating taking place, the ‘uncle’ might suspect that the young kid is part of some scheme to deprive him of his money.

  3. Curious children grow up to be intelligent people. Of course, some continue quite curious too. 😀
    I sure hope your coincidentally forged link with the new teacher was beneficial. 😉
    Its a small world, isn’t it? And I love those moments which make me say this.
    Sweet post!

  4. That was really wonderful of that man to explain things to you. I should say that this attitude of ridiculing or not taking seriously is a problem with our people and it extends to the way adult women are dealt with. Countless are the occasions when questions have been brushed aside with condescending laughter, as if it is beyond my capacity to grasp, by extended family members, ‘friends’ and strangers..

  5. I like adults who encourage kids (have been fortunate to have grown up with a few of them as parents for starters)..

    habits really die hard ya.. in your case your curiosity 🙂

    that apart, I remember my uncle, MJ’s youngest brother who gave his watch to my brother.. hardly 1 year old or then to play.. when our grandmother was insistent that the baby brother would break it. On her part, she tried to shoo him away/hide the watch.. but her son proved his point to his mother that, the nephew wanted to see it as he was curious about it.. she was surprised that the grandson examined the watch and gave it back to the uncle.. curiosity over, the watch was never again a bone of contention,,

  6. Whoa! The curious boy learned the basics of ATM and u actually used the uncle much fun. I remember having an ATM when I joined college in Pune way back in 2003. It was exciting to use an ATM card:)

  7. I really respect people who satisfy my curiosity! Esp as a child – I had a lot of questions!
    (I still do, but that’s a different story!)
    And usually I was told – “Do as you are told! Don’t ask too many questions!!” Sigh!

    Such a nice coincidence about the Uncle you have written! 🙂

Thank you for coming by, please drop a comment :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s