“One coincidence is just a coincidence, two coincidences are a clue, three coincidences are a proof. ” Hercule Poirot.
When still in Italy a couple of weeks ago, I went swimming suits shopping with the girls as most of the previous year ones were too small.
Daughter number two was quickly sorted with her sister’s old togs and a couple of new ones, but daughter number one was the other story and not an easy one.
First of all, she doesn’t like girly things, second of all she doesn’t like bright colours and third of all she hates to go clothes shopping, not to mention trying things up.
With this little introduction, you already got the general mood that surrounded me during “the swimming suit mission”. Because that’s what it was: A Mission, or to be precise, a Mission Impossible.
The heat, of course, didnt help us to accomplish our task but made us try to be as quick as we could so that we could soon move to the next shop, the supermarket.
No, I am not saying I am a food shopping enthusiast, on the contrary, I hate it, and in fact, always have my weekly food shopping delivered, but at least the supermarket is a cool place. And by cool, I mean chilled. The clothes shop, instead, was hot. Sure they had air conditioning but because they kept all the doors opened it didnt do much.
After I inspected thousands of items, while the daughter was behind me lifting her thumb up or down to the possible candidate, we eventually settled on a few anonymous dark blocked coloured bikinis disguising any feminine identity.
Mission accomplished. We paid and happily run into the supermarket, where we much appreciated the Antartic temperature running through all the place.
We got a few bits and headed to one of the till.
It must have been the heat, it must have been the stress of the shopping, or it must have been the effort to hold my tongue in front of my eldest daughter poor fashion taste, but sure all of those things contributed to exhaust my brain. How did I know that? I didn’t, until I find myself inserting my card to pay, and instead of digiting my PIN, I kept staring at it like in a trance. At the third cashier’s cough, I eventually awoke and hurriedly pushed the green button. Transaction Rejected.
How was it possible? I had just paid in the other shop, and it worked.
-It happens sometimes -, the lady cashier said. We tried again, ….and again. Transaction Rejected, all three times.Puzzled, I paid with my other card, and that was it.
If it were the end of the month, I maybe would have worried to have overspent, but been the beginning of the month I knew the account was well covered. I blamed the shop’s connection, and didnt think about it again.
The Monday after I was back home to Ireland, I had an appointment to get my blood tests done. I was a bit early, and so I went to the ATM to get some cash.
“This service cannot be provided”, or something like that, it was the message on the monitor.
I immediately checked my bank account, and there was funds, so I thought maybe I was trying to withdraw too much and exciding the daily allowance. I changed amount, but once again, I could not get anything out of the evil machine. I tried a third time but still no cash. I left disappointed, annoyed and even a bit embarrassed as there were now a few people queueing behind me and witnessing my desperate and unsuccessfully attempts to get some cash.
Same story at the doctor. When I tried to pay for my blood tests, I kept receiving the same message: Transaction Rejected.
I started to blabbing apologies to the lady at the reception, and I also informed her, in details, of my financial situation. I actually had 30 euros to pay for my blood tests; just for some obscure reason, the money refused to move from my account to the doctor’s one.I didnt have my other card with me, and I could not pay with cash because the little plastic fecker card didn’t get me any cash either. So………now what?
A bulb lighted up in that over confused head of mine. I suddenly remembered the incident with the card at the supermarket. It was the same card, and it could not be a coincidence.
I excused myself with the receptionist, and after promising I was not running away, I stepped outside to ring the bank and try to figure it out what the problem was.
“Your pin has been locked because you wrongly digited three times.”
“No I didnt ”
“Yes you did, mam. You pressed enter three times without actually digiting the pin first, and that is the same to the system. The code and the card have been locked as a result of a fraud alert”.
Oh, that is what had happened! Back to the supermarket, when my brain was more totally fried than tired as I naively thought, I kept pressing the green pay button but without the pin.
I admit to have been idiotically distracted, but should not the bank warn you in these cases? Apparently not. It is all automatised.
Thankfully it is automatised even the procedure to unlock your pin, and it can be easily done at any ATM.
It took me literally five seconds to unlock my card, and five minutes later, I’m leaving the doctor surgery with the receipt of my payment safely in my hands.
Never trust coincidences, especially when it comes to credit cards. If they are not working, there is always a reason, and it won’t self fix itself.