The uncle at the ATM

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?”

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Written for Day 21 of the A to Z Challenge.