Our reliance on plastic is far from fantastic Cormac Macconnell
Let’s begin by nailing a hard old truth to the winter mast as the cold winds of reality blow the scales away from my eyes and hopefully away from the optics of the wisest of you gentle readers also.
The cruel reality is that bank holidays don’t exist at all in any meaningful way for us. The moguls who run our banks close their doors against us for the occasional weekend, yes for sure, but behind those locked doors they work away twice as hard as they normally do. Bank holidays are a fallacy and always have been for decades now. And that is a harsh November truth.
When the doors of the banks are locked we have to head for our hard-earned cash to the blinking ATM machines a few yards away. Do ye know what the initials ATM really stand for once your eyes are opened up at last?
I have this fact from a former bank clerk recently who was caught up in the wave of redundancies inflicted upon the humans who used serve our financial needs from behind a row of friendly desks back in the old days.
This lady said that ATM is the shorthand for Appalling Terror Machines! I kid ye not on that score either.
It seems that the plastic cards we reluctantly insert into the ATMS when we are locked out of the banks will yield us a little cash indeed if we have been responsible enough citizens since we last faced up to those blinking green eyes in the wall. However, in a hi-tech age with mysteries which bamboozle many of my more senior generation, like they do myself for certain, there are elements chipped into our little plastic cards which can be used to reveal far more about our overall lifestyles and habits than we ourselves would readily discuss with strangers. It’s all a bit spooky and frightening really in keeping with the dark season that is in it this week.
And increasingly it gets even more frightening in this view at least.
A couple of years ago you were required to carefully and secretly punch in your PIN into the ATM. Right? Nowadays, at an increasing level, and ye will have noticed this yourselves, there are many of those ATMS in all species of retail outlets which do not require your personal human input at all. The card is just tapped against the infallible (apparently) panel atop the checkout ATM and, again, assuming that you have been behaving yourself financially reasonably well in the days prior, a green checkmark flashes up and your card is handed back to you and your account debited.
And I’m certain the marketing moguls in the banks and the commercial sectors elsewhere can use the details of the transactions involved to spot popular trends across the markets and use those for their marketing strategies. A considerable number of the smaller bank branches that served rural folk for generations have been closed in recent years and indeed months with more likely enough to follow. I think back to the banks in small towns and villages of the past. When you walked in you were faced with cashiers’ desks predominantly served by local mothers, wives and daughters who probably knew you and your local connections and friends. The change today in the ATM era is dramatic and telling. The machines with the blinking green mouths are decimating the human staff at a very fast pace indeed. Plastic is taking over from flesh and blood. Another truth there. Speaking of plastic matters reminds me that after a very enjoyable bank holiday family celebration in North Clare at the start of the week, I had a conversation with a seafaring fisherman who shocked me to the core with his description about the immense volume nowadays of the plastic waste bobbing in the seas around our coastline.
Plastic waste, and the campaign against it, is now a real global problem as we all know. Some steps are being taken about everywhere to try and reduce the frightening pollution poisoning the oceans and one hopes that our national campaign gets the wholehearted support it deserves.
I think, after a mighty bank holiday weekend in Ennistymon and its impact on the plastic card that I inserted maybe too often into those dreaded ATMS during the craic and music, that I will likely soon have the chance to very actively support the antiplastics global campaign. It is about certain that the next time I stick my card into the hungry green mouth of an ATM that it will gobble it up and neither give me a few euro or my card back. In which case I will not look to have it replaced and will feel quite righteous that I am actively supporting a very necessary environmental campaign.
We’ll leave things rest here.
The price of plastic convenience — many of the smaller bank branches that served rural folk for generations have been closed down in recent years, with more likely enough to follow.