By Rhonda Dredge
Flinders Lane is not that busy on a Friday afternoon before office workers crowd the footpaths on their way home.
The street is in shadow and the buildings quite overbearing around Exhibition St.
A man entered a convenience store near there about 4 pm and stood at the ATM. He was wearing a suit and had all the markings of being a corporate.
“I’m 49 and I can’t remember my pin,” he said. I was standing behind him in the queue.
The hands of 21st century woman are tied, I thought. How could I help? It’s nice that he had something to say. Talking points in the CBD should be encouraged …
“I’ve had the same pin since I was a boy,” he continued, “but my account was hacked and I was forced by the bank to get a new one.”
Alien spaces are ones that used to be pleasurable but now cause pain. Finances, for example, used to feel weighty in a wallet. Now they’re nothing but digits recorded somewhere not that safe on the infranet.
“Some people like alien spaces,” I said reassuringly. “Maybe you can make a study of being pinless.”
He headed off towards Swanston St and I guessed he was destined for the CBA in Flinders. I didn’t follow but was going there myself. When you’re pinless you don’t have a choice. You have to visit a teller for funds.
It was a little after 4 pm when I entered. It had been such a long time since I’d visited a bank I couldn’t remember what was required. There would have been a Friday evening rush in the old days but I was the only one in the queue.
There was a nice young woman at the counter, standing in front of a black and white photo of the city. We discussed the situation. She seemed to be offering customer service! I withdrew $200 and all I had to provide was a signature. She had five or six different codes she had to remember. “Otherwise you’re locked out.” As I left the bank I scoffed.
So what if the ATM at the convenience store in Flinders Lane was glowing! It didn’t matter any more if the numbers added up. They weren’t for me or for the man who had put his troubles out there into the big city. I was empathising with the 49-year-old and going pinless out of solidarity.
21st century woman is an athlete, I thought. She wears a sports shirt, carries $200 in her wallet, has a code to her bike lock and a solution to being hacked.
This was my reading of the situation.
Numbers are too unforgiving. There’s only one way of being right with a four digit pin and 5039 ways of being wrong. Even though the bank had reimbursed the funds to the owner of the hacked account, the pin was gone.
I began to improvise. Lost forever in the contours of the 49-year-old’s mind was a beautiful set of figures. They were his digits, lovingly pressed since he was a youngster. Some bastard had stolen them and he can’t forgive.
I knew that his pin could not be re-activated and that it’s not plausible to post a reward. He just has to get used to being pinless. If he runs out of funds he can always visit another teller.
I enjoyed myself dispensing cash for a few days then approached a bank just outside the CBD for a top-up. That’s when the ugly truth dawned. The second teller didn’t have the grace of the first.
“Why don’t you go to the ATM?” he said, not expecting an answer.
I felt affronted.
“There are only two free counter-assisted transactions a month on your kind of card,” he continued.
Now I knew why I opted for a pin in the first place. 21st century man is a machine and he only has two free slots for appeals.
By Rhonda Dredge