On Finding Change

Posted on Sunday 6th May 2007 at 00:00
Do you ever get the feeling that the entire world is conspiring against you ever achieving something?

On Friday I went to see Spiderman 3 in Basingstoke. As the lights came up at the end, I observed with some annoyance that it was quarter past 8. This was most inconvenient since I was supposed to be somewhere else at 8, the film having run on for a good 45 minutes longer than I'd accounted for.

I left the cinema hurriedly and made my way back into the Festival Place shopping centre, where I'd parked. I already knew that I didn't have any change for the car park, so I went to the first cash machine I came across. It was out of order. The second one seemed to be working but the queue was large and not moving.

I decided that rather than waiting around forever for the machine I'd use the time to find out exactly how much change I needed, and so I took the lift up to the payment machine. Luckily I found that it would take notes as well as coins, which meant I wouldn't need to try and blag change from anywhere after visiting the cash machine. As I moved to retrace my steps to the lift I spotted a sign apologising for the inconvenience that would undoubtedly be caused by the machines not yet accepting the new '20 note. Presumably they need an engineer to go round all of the payment machines and switch off the security device that stops people inserting monopoly money into the notes slot.

I returned to the cash machine to discover that the queue had at last died away. I rushed to the nearest machine before anyone else could get there and inserted my card. Everything went as planned until I asked very nicely for a withdrawal of '10. The ATM went and thought about it for a moment before telling me that it was out of tenners and I'd have to get out '20 instead.


I cross my fingers and press 'Yes', hoping against hope for an old note. The machine dispenses a brand new note.

Fuck! Still, nothing could be done about it now. I couldn't very well drain my bank account in the hope that the infernal machine had an old twenty in it somewhere. Instead, I looked around for an open shop that might give me change. At that time of day everything was closed and all I found was a Burger King. On my way in I spotted a sign informing me that student discounts were available with a NUS card.

Way I saw it, if I was going to be forced to buy something just for some change I might as well get it discounted, so I went up to the counter and ordered a small portion of fries. These were produced and I was about to hand over that twenty when I found it being refused. Apparently a small portion of fries is in fact free with a student card. Brilliant.

I attempted to rectify matters by ordering a small milkshake, but apparently the machine was broken. Eventually a sprite came my way, '20 was handed over and '19 and a penny were returned to me, some of it in the right change to pay for the damn car park.

By the time I got into my car I was already 35 minutes late for my evening out but the fun was not over just yet. I couldn't think of anything to do with the food I'd bought that wouldn't result in it being flung across the passenger seat the moment I screeched round a sharp bend, so I was forced to sit there and eat all the chips and drink enough of the drink to make it safe before I could leave.

And all that because I didn't have '2.50 of change on me. They really need to look at getting car park payment machines to read debit cards.

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