How a dastardly line-jumping scammer foiled even the bank number-machine system27 march 2012, 17:02
I was having a pleasant breakfast on a recent Sunday morning with my American friends Glenn and Mary when the subject of line jumping at banks came up.
This practice chaps my hide so much that I wrote a blog not long ago in which I beseeched bank executives to put number machines in all of their branches to stop line jumping.
The machines, I said in my blog, would be a foolproof way of preventing line jumping. Every entering customer would have to obtain a number from a machine before she could be served. No number, no service – a system I asserted would be a sure-fire way to foil those deviates known as line jumpers.
Well, I must humbly admit I was wrong about the number machines being foolproof, and grovel for your forgiveness.
Glenn, who has been doing business in Kazakhstan for many years, deliberately does all his banking at a location with a number machine so he doesn’t have to deal with line jumping.
The other day he was in that branch on Astana’s Left Bank when he saw a middle-aged woman enter and, with beady eyes, scan the queuing situation.
It wasn’t to her liking, Glenn said, so “she went over to a trash can, fished through discarded paper numbers, and pulled one out.”
Then she rushed up to a cashier’s window, began whining that her number had not been called when it was supposed to, and demanded that she be served next. The sympathetic – or intimidated – cashier did what she asked, leaving others in line to continue waiting.
It was all a blatant, calculated scam. Glenn had caught her red-handed, although he is too nice a guy to have accosted her about it.
Given Glenn’s story, I must confess to my readers that I was naïve – or stupid – when I suggested that number machines were a foolproof way of stopping bank line jumping.
What this shows is that some people are so devious and cunning that they will try to get around any system designed to generate– horror of horrors! – equity and fairness.
I’m still convinced that number machines will stop 99 percent of bank line jumping, but now I must sadly admit that no system is perfect.
To achieve 100 percent foiling of line jumping, however, I have some new suggestions for banks:
1. Pour molasses into all bank trash cans so that when someone tries to fish out a discarded number to line-jump, they get a mess on their hands and clothes.
2. Better yet, put doggie residue in the trash cans. This would ensure that not only would the scammers get a mess on their hands and clothes, but also a smell that would instantly identify them to other bank customers as the con artists they are. And that would follow them around through the rest of their day of working, shopping or whatever.
I have a number of line-jumping-victim friends who would gladly volunteer their dogs’ leavings for this noble endeavor.
3. Place loaded mousetraps in every bank trash can. When a scammer sticks his hand in a trash can to get a discarded number, his yowling will alert other customers to con artistry – and they can then subject him to a group thrashing.
4. Import punji sticks from Vietnam to leave in bank trash cans. These sharp bamboo sticks covered with excrement will leave wounds on scammers’ hands that, if we’re lucky, doctors will never be able to heal.
Let me take a moment to assure my readers that I’m not so mean as to encourage banks to actually do these things to discarded-number scammers. I’m using biting satire to underscore my point that such scammers are low-lifes who deserve whatever fate dishes out to them for their disregard toward others.
As I was thinking about how to write this blog, I was reminded of a story about the great American humorist Will Rogers.
Rogers was a part-Cherokee Indian cowboy who became beloved in the United States until his death in a plane crash in the 1930s for his wit, warmth and generosity.
Rogers biographer Ben Yagoda tells the story of a down-on-his-luck cowboy approaching Rogers one day. The cowhand told the comedian that the two had worked together years ago on an Oklahoma ranch – and could Rogers lend him some money for old times’ sake.
Rogers complied, and the old cowhand walked away smiling.
A friend of Rogers who watched this act of kindness told the humorist -- and I’m paraphrasing here – “Will, you never worked on that ranch.”
Rogers replied that, yes, he had never worked on that ranch, but if the cowhand had resorted to such a big lie to try to get money from him, then the old boy must have needed the money a lot more than Rogers did.
That was Will Rogers – a man of uncommon generosity of spirit.
If I were like Rogers, I would approach a discarded-bank-number scammer with the same generosity. I would contend that: “if she needed to resort to such a disgusting trick to jump a line, then she must be bad off, so let her do it.”
But I’m no Will Rogers.
Let me close, gentle readers, by asking: Do any of you know where I can get a discount in Astana on six barrels of molasses and eight dozen mousetraps?