Betting on the Wrong Horse

The scenario pops up quite frequently.  You’re going to grab some cash at the local bank and both of the lobby ATMs are occupied.  There’s no chance you’re going to go talk to a human, so going to the guy or gal behind the bulletproof glass is out of the question.  You can try to employ the “split the difference” method and stand in a position where you’re kind of in both lines, but eventually you’ll feel someone approaching from behind.  This will force your hand to make a decision.  There are several factors to consider at this point when choosing which line:

  • What phase of the transaction are each of the ATM users at?  Seeing a receipt coming out of the machine has a high correlation with the transaction being over.  However, sometimes people like to make deposits and withdrawals at the same time.  Seems like robbing Peter to pay Peter to me.
  • Does one of these people look like the kind of asshole that doesn’t have direct deposit?  Or worse, is it a kid with a stack of checks from his High School graduation party?
  • Who looks more technical, and thus less likely to struggle with the prompts from the ATM, even though they haven’t changed much since the ATM was invented?
  • Is one of them doing a “poo-poo pee-pee” dance, indicating they have to find a toilet?  Not crapping your pants in public should really be the base of the pyramid in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

The situation is so fluid and dynamic that many other factors are worth considering as well, but ultimately, you know you’ll choose the wrong line.  Then, the person that creeped up behind you earlier will hold a silent celebration as they type in their PIN number, knowing they’ve beat you in the game of life.

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