A Child Could Do It

But I can’t.

Not just computer repairs…..supposedly simple things like downloading Whatsapp and making it work, or anything, really when the instructions seem to bear no relation to the reality before me.

I am convinced that to conquer these new worlds you need to have the mind of a child….together with its limited vocabulary and lack of experience of the life in general.

And now I discover that you have to have the physique of a child!

To be fair, this was an ATM, not a computer, but it is all part of the system of infantilism.

Drawing money from an ATM in Costa Rica can be an experience in itself. Mastercard or Visa may declare on their location sites that you can withdraw funds from your foreign accounts on nomatter what machine….can you hell…..

Some Costa Rican banks’ ATMs will take the cards…some will not. Some have rediculously small limits on withdrawals and disproportionatly large commision fees…others claim to have the sky as the limit…but their pie never reaches the sky in your lifetime.

Normally, they just run out of money. Especially on a Friday when the paterfamilias, having had his salary paid into his account, brings the family in from the backwoods to do the shopping for the week. Enters card and all the details..no money. Then ensues a scramble round all the ATMs to find one which will

A accept his card and

B has not already been emptied by other paterfamiliae.

But no need to despair! If all else fails local stores will take his card and cough up money over and above the price of his purchases…as long as his card comes from a Costa Rican state bank, of which there are three. Otherwise, you can sling your hook. After a spectacular private bank failure in the last century businesses will have nothing to do with non state banks…and that includes your foreign abomination.

We have private and business accounts with one of the state three…having changed from another of the state three when our local branch tried to stuff us on currency exchange. We kicked up at their head office and the exasperated lady who dealt with our problem said ‘always the same with these indians… think they can get away with anything’. Not very PC, but Costa Rica in that era was anything but PC and we were out in the sticks with a branch which recruited indigenous staff. Xenophobia is strong in Costa Rica to this day and indigenous bank staff – aka ‘indians’ – are well in the vanguard when it comes to reverse discrimination.

We had found an ATM locally which would cough up which was fine as we could rely on withdrawing money when we did the weekly shop….until it was decided to move it to another area of the supermarket…at which point it was out of action for over a week.

Finally it was installed…but it was not the same style of machine. It lacked all the usual buttons to press….and under the screen there was a handwritten note which said ‘read the instructions’

The note itself was at waist height and the instructions were below, so I had to crouch down to read them. Well, as it turned out, reading was not what was required……..they were all in pictogram form, but even my young days haunting the British Museum did not allow me to work out what they meant.

Could Danilo make head or tail of them?

No, he could not.

We sent for the manager who, equally puzzled, sent for one of the checkout packers, aged about sixteen.

The young man took the card, fiddled about a bit and we had our money.

Was the machine causing problems generally, I asked the manager.

Well, yes…thus the notice, but it is mostly older people who have problems…you see a lot of them can’t bend and all of them expect instructions to be in writing.

So why would the bank design an ATM like this one?

A shrug…..probably dreamed up by one of their young IT people…they’re all illiterate. Still, if you have problems again, don’t hesitate, call one of the packers. Most of them don’t seem to be able to read…but they can work the machine all right.



23 thoughts on “A Child Could Do It”

  1. Emojis. After those, it was all over. Back to pictograms on cave walls…but you have to be part of the club to decode them?
    Gee, what dinosaurs we are to expect “instructions” to be in words? (and a place where you can see them)
    Haven’t seen those machines yet, but running out of money on Fridays, yes – especially during tourist season or hurricane on the way around here….both of those create money machine scrambles

    1. I cannot make sense of emojis…very few of them are self explicable to me and some are downright vulgar.
      Once the lad had fiddled a bit up came a touch screen…..I think a keypad is much more secure, but i’m only a client with money to lose….and away we went…but i think the store will soon have to have one of the lads on permanent ATM duty.
      A nuisance as the next usable machine is some thirty kilometres away!

  2. “Can’t read but can work the ATM.”
    Good management that, a small tip and you will never have problems again.
    Take one home and keep him in a cupboard for when required.

  3. πŸ₯΅πŸ˜‘πŸ˜ˆπŸ˜³πŸ€·β€β™€οΈπŸ‘πŸ‘ŽπŸ‘€πŸ˜₯🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺 Well, that’s all I have to say except you whippersnappers need to get off my lawn. I’ll send a Rosetta Stone for your next ATM adventure.

  4. I scream and rail at all that is becoming “intuitive”. It’s not intuitive. Enough of my generation have not died yet for anything to be intuitive.

  5. Boring Old Fart here – it’s a backward step. The beauty (and purpose) of lan-goo-age with all of its subtlties and nuance and high information load is so that if you can read written instructions you can, slowly, operate a nukular power station if needs be. Now that lan-goo-age has been replaced by ickle bickle symbols you can only operate and ATM if you know how to operate an ATM. I imagine that most nukular power stations these days, operated as they are by well-trained folk still in the throes of puberty and acne, have about six buttons. At the beginning of the sequence is a button with – very oddly indeed – a silhouette of an old-fashioned incandescent light-bulb, at the other end is a silhouette of a mushroom cloud. Somewhere, somewhen in decades past, The System decided to eliminate independent thinking…

    See? I told you that I was a boring old fart. New processes aren’t really intended to be “intuitive”, that’s the problem – they are intended to be used by folk trained and restrained in one very tightly-ordered way of doing all “things”. JMHO.

    1. Yes, a process is a process and should leave no room for doubt – especially in the case of nuclear power stations. Clearly somewhere in the French system of nuclear power station designs process lost out as they all seem to leak like sieves. Someone, somewhere misplaced an emoji…..

  6. Young people and technology get my dander up more often than not. And I kind of, sorta think of myself as semi-literate when it comes to that sort of stuff. All too often, the instructions when you encounter a problem appear as though they’ve been written in Yugoslavian. Which I don’t read nor understand. *sigh
    Glad you were able to get someone to help you out. Here you have to pray some kind soul will take pity on the bawling pile grumbling in a heap.

  7. Thank goodness for the young packer!

    It strkes me more and more that we – the people who pay for banks, internet providers, etc. – are regarded as just cows to be milked of our money with no regard for our convenience.
    You plough through a welter of instructions, only to discover that it is as easy as falling off a log in reality – if not obfuscated by the damned instructions!
    If i have to use that machine unaided i will need Alice in Wonderland’s ‘drink me’ bottle to shrink in order to even see the instructions and her ‘eat me’ cake to return to normal size…what could possibly go wrong……

  8. Since the beginning of the pandemic retailers here have been encouraged to accept payment in plastic. I have hardly spent any cash in the last 18 months. Getting money from an ATM has almost become a thing of the past.

    My bugbear is my computerised car. It has several functions that are way beyond me and anyway I don’t know how to access them.

    1. This country would fall apart if it were to turn to plastic only!
      Oh yes, the car! Here we have an old Japanese tin box which can be repaired with a knife and fork but the day wil come when we have to buy something newer – and thus more complicated!

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