Once back in 1980 when I was living in Port Arthur, Texas, I was planning a trip back to Alabama, and so I went by the bank to get some cash.
I noticed that, at the end of the long line of tellers in Allied Merchants Bank there was a brand new ATM machine, so if you wanted to you could use the machine instead of a live teller.
Well, I had an ATM card, so I sauntered up to the machine, and it was like some kind of trigger that people started lining up behind me, most all of them businessmen in suits and carrying briefcases. Since I was on the way home from work, I was dressed in a greasy mechanic’s uniform.
I put my card in the slot and entered my pin, selected the prompt for withdrawing cash, and entered $350. The machines in those days were kind of slow and clunky and didn’t do things quickly.
After some hums and clicks the machine started kicking out twenties at the rate of about one every two or three seconds – at that rate (17 twenties and a ten), it was going to take about a minute and a half to give me all the money I had asked for.
As I watched the machine piling up that stack of bills, I noticed the businessman or lawyer or whatever the suit was behind me rubbernecking around me to watch my cash being dispensed…. and I took the cue, turned my head to catch the eyes of those in line, and said, loud enough for everybody in line behind me to hear,
“I think this thing has malfunctioned and is giving me ‘way too much money!’
I’ve never seen so many otherwise dignified briefcase toters get so wide-eyed and rubber-necky – it must have seemed like a dream come true, at least to some of them.
When the machine was done and gave me back my card, they all watched me walk away with a big smile on my face carrying my stack of cash.
It didn’t give me too much, but I had seriously “made those guys look” – in a big way.