Plastic money, that huge help, can be the most horrible embarrassment. Whenever I give my debit card to a shopkeeper or counter to be swiped, I do so in trepidation. If the frog-like machine stays cold and refuses to savour the slide, I am in distress. The moment of reckoning, of course, comes when the disgorged card is returned to me with “Sorry sir, the machine is not accepting your card”. My reactions of “But how?” and “I cannot understand” are of no interest to the person at the counter, who has turned by then to the next customer.
Having been told at the airport check-in counter that I had overshot my free baggage allowance and needed to pay Rs 700 for the excess, I went to ‘Excess Baggage’ to pay up.
“Can I pay by card?”
“Of course, sir. May I have it?”
“Here it is.”
The card is inserted into the frog’s smile. It is removed, reinserted. A colleague is called to cajole it. No luck.
“Sir, I am...