Thursday, 18 October 2012

Queue etiquette - what to do when the machines don't work.

When I arrived at the train station this morning, it was about 8am - the heart of the peak at my tiny suburban train station.  I knew that I had to top up my myki at the machine because the balance was less than $5.

I'm very familiar with the machine and use it all the time to top up the card. When I arrived, the was no queue and I walked straight up to the machine.  I pressed all the usual buttons, inserted my debit card, selected my account type and then entered my PIN.  Nothing happened for a while and I looked again at the display on the EFTPOS part of the machine and saw it was asking me to re-enter my PIN.  I did what it asked and continued to wait.  In the meantime a queue of people had formed behind me.  I could hear a train arriving and was keen to be on it.

Nothing happened again.  I looked again and was asked to re-verify my PIN. The train came and went.   At this point I decided to pay with cash, rather than fruitlessly arguing with the machine further.  The woman directly behind me was becoming highly agitated.  I turned and apologised to her as I waited for the machine to acknowledge any form of my money.  She said, "Do you think I could just do my top up? I want to catch the train."

I found this bizarre.  I was also wanting to catch the train and was wrestling with a machine that usually works without a problem, if a little slowly.  We all just had to go through the process with the machine in turn.

The machine spat my note out.  As I turned it over and tried reinserting it, the woman behind me asked again if she could "just use the machine while you are waiting". Waiting? I was in the middle of using the machine!  I wasn't waiting.

My response was to say that we're all just wanting to use the machine so we can catch a train.  "We all just have to wait and take our turn."

She huffed again.  The machine finally accepted my money.  The myki was topped up.  As I walked away to wait on the platform to wait for a train.  I waited for less than two minutes.

We seem to be in such a hurry these days and expect everything to happen instantly that we take it out on other people when those expectations aren't met.  Wouldn't it be great if the woman could understand that everyone was in the same boat and find a way to help?

What do you do?  What's the etiquette in this kind of situation?

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