You're dumber than you think

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I drove into town with my mom to do some banking. 

Because it was after hours, the plan was to use the machine to deposit a cheque and withdraw $200 to pay a guy for doing some work on my husband's truck.

It was a simple errand.

I went through the doors and walked over to the machine. Holding a cheque in one hand, I reached for the deposit envelope with my other hand. Only, there were no envelopes.

I was perplexed. How was I supposed to make a deposit?

I walked out the door and ran into Mary - a family friend who used to work the desk at our local doctor's office. Mary is a problem solver, and so I asked her for advice.

"Mary, do you think you can make a deposit in the machine without an envelope?"

She didn't think so. But she said she had lots of envelopes at home and I was welcome to drive over to get one. Classic Mary.

I told her thanks, but I didn't want to be a pain. Instead I would pop over to the dollar store to buy a box of them. That way I could leave the extras next to the bank machine for whoever else needed to make a deposit that night.

I explained the distressing news to my mom who was wondering why I was back in the car, still holding the cheque. Then, I drove us down the street to where anyone can find nearly anything they might need at 8:45pm. Including chocolate bars. I've heard.

It took me a while, but I eventually located a box of 50 letter envelopes which seemed to me to be the perfect amount. As I fumbled for my debit card, I breathlessly explained to the kid at the cash register that there were no envelopes at the bank machine, presumably because someone had ripped off all of them. He really didn't care, but pretended to be shocked just the same, which made me feel like he and I might become friends some day, though I don't think he shared my enthusiasm.

Before heading back into the bank, my mom grabbed an envelope from the box and stuck my cheque inside. I took it, and the rest of the box inside and before doing my banking, proceeded to stuff the extra envelopes into the dispenser next to the machine.

It was harder than it looked. There was a little spring-loaded flap that made it impossible to stuff 49 envelopes at a time into the slot. I tried adding just a few, but no sooner did I have them in before they they shot right out of there like snot from a sneezing toddler. I wanted them to stand upright, nice and straight so the next customers could easily grab what they needed. Instead, I shoved them in horizontally as far as they could go, almost losing them inside the darkness of the wall in the process.

Take that you envelope-stealing hooligans.

I deposited my cheque placing it (inside the envelope) onto the little conveyor belt, where it was immediately sucked inside the machine and then spit back out, triggering a loud beeping noise. The message on the screen told me that my cheque could not be scanned because the big dumb dollar store envelope it was in was blocking the laser beam.

That's when I saw it.

I was so overwhelmed by my lack of awareness, that after redepositing the cheque - as directed by the signs - unencumbered by extra paper, I accidentally pressed the "I want to do more banking" button when asked if I wanted to do more banking. 

I didn't want to do more banking. I wanted to run outside to see if I could locate whatever it is that's supposed to prevent me from being oblivious, since it had obviously left my brain somewhere between the day I turned 40 and now. 


More signs, designed for women over 40.

Worried I would disrupt the entire transaction and have to start over again if I hit cancel, I decided to withdraw $20 to appease the machine which at that point had enough security footage of my confused middle aged matronly arms and upper lip hair to cheer up all the bank managers in the province at the next staff party.

When I came back to the car with all the envelopes, the look on my mom's face was to be expected. But it was when I told her my irritation at having to take out $20, that she truly appeared dumbstruck.

"Andrea," she said. "We came into town to withdraw $200. That's why we're here."

Going back in to get the extra $180 was my own personal walk of shame. It was then that I decided to use my phone to record the evidence of my mental decline, while smiling bravely into the camera with a nod and a wink because at Scotiabank, you're not richer than you think, you're dumber than you think. Apparently.

No, really.