Oh! The electronic age! How far we've come. Everyone has multiple electronic gadgets - computers, the internet, smart phones, cameras, 3D televisions - our books aren't even real books anymore! All of these items are devised to make our lives more productive, simpler, and allow us to do things on the go with our busy lifestyles. Sometimes I feel that life is moving so quickly that every few months when I acquire the latest upgrade, I have to read an inch-thick users manual just to figure out how to use the dang thing I just bought. I don't even know half of the things my iStuff can do, all I know is that it's cool and I want it. We do everything online now: educate ourselves, pay bills, shop, date, stalk people on social networks, find out what new serious diseases we may have, investigate new places we've never been, the list is endless.
I wait tables here in New York in a busy restaurant, and at times tend to have large amounts of cash on me. Going home alone, late at night, on the subway, past homeless people, in the dark, with a bunch of money in my wallet freaks me out. It makes me nervous. I somehow feel that others can sense I have it on me, like they have some psychic ability or some street smart gene that lets them know, that they can just tell. So, because I go to TD Bank and there just happens to be one a half block away from where I work, I'll drop by after my shift and deposit my cash into the ATM before heading home. It just makes me feel more safe.
Last night was one of those nights. I nervously walked to the bank, my money perfectly counted and organized according to denomination in my wallet, ready for me to whip out my card, quickly stuff the cash into a deposit envelope, punch in my secret code, and shove into the magic slot, locked away, safe and sound, until the big strong security person collected it the next day and put it safely into my account. As I approached the bank, card in hand, I slid it into the automated door lock sensor, the light changed from red to green, producing the annoying, "I'm only going to unlock this for three seconds," buzz, so I could easily enter and complete my transaction. The deposit went off without a hitch - total privacy inside, only took a few brief minutes, easy machine access. Perfect! I packed up my things to leave. I walked to the main door, pressed the exit button to unlock it, and pushed the door to leave. Nothing. The door was still locked. Huh. I must not have pressed the exit button hard enough, being in a hurry and all. I pressed the button again, this time with absolute certainty that I was doing this correctly, holding it an extra few seconds to make sure my press registered, and after I felt that it was good enough, I attempted to exit again. Still locked! I was completely safe and secure INSIDE the bank ATM lobby!
I began to panic. I have always been a little claustrophobic. Since I was a child, I've had nightmares of being buried alive, either struggling for air in my locked coffin under piles of dirt, clawing at the silk fabric above me, or waking up inside the actual cremation oven after the operator has turned the fire on and left the room. I hit the exit button again three times and shook the doors, trying to make the magnetic latch give way. I was definitely trapped. I ran to the other side door, which had no exit button, but I thought I'd try to bust out of it anyway. I shook the other doors. Still nothing. My breathing was becoming more rapid. I was starting to sweat. "Should I call 911?" I thought. At least there was a dog bowl under the sign in the corner filled with water if I got thirsty. What if I had to pee? I'm going to be trapped in here all night. I'm going to have to sleep on the dirty hard floor, in a glass room, where everyone that walks by in Times Square, will look in and see me sleeping there, the poor haggard homeless girl that has to sleep in the ATM lobby, which is warmer than there on the streets. I ripped open my bag and in an instant, my phone was in my hand. Search the web! TD Bank, send. Why was this taking so long? And why was my battery about to die? Damn this electronic gadgetry!
Just then, the most beautiful black man I have ever seen approached the glass door. It was like a dream. He pulled his card out of his wallet and in slow motion, walked up to the sensor. I quickly ran up to the door. With my hands pressed against the glass I shouted, "Thank GOD you're here! I'm trapped inside!" He could see the look of terror in my eyes. I watched him slide the card into the sensor. He pushed the door. Nothing! Could this be? Even the card sensor was not releasing the latch. Holy Mother of God, I really WAS going to be trapped in here all night. I began hyperventilating. Beautiful Black Man's hands were shaking as he continuously pulled various cards from his wallet and tried them on the sensor to free me, each to no avail. He tried the first one again, and suddenly, with a click, the light changed from red to green, the buzz that was so annoying to me only moments before had become music to my ears, and my hero, BBM, swung the door wide to release me from the ATM abyss. I was free.
"Thank you so much!" I said to BBM. Air was beginning to once again fill my lungs. Sweet relief! I stepped to the side so he could make his way in. "I ain't going in there!" he exclaimed. I told him I would hold the door open for him while he did his transaction. It was the least I could do. Then another girl came in to do hers. As they were banking at this late hour, I noticed my phone had completed it's search. I clicked on TD Bank Customer Service. I clicked on the phone number, and an actual person answered the phone. Not a machine, not an electronic messaging service, an actual person answered the phone this late at night. I knew there was a reason I banked here. I explained my plight to the caring professional, and after apologizing to me profusely, she informed me that security would be there shortly to attend to the issue so no one else would find themselves in the same predicament. Tragedy avoided, I made my way to the subway for the journey home. Just another night in New York.