Jun 132008

So you pull up to the drive-through ATM. There are two lines, each with an identical number of vehicles waiting. What do you do?

At times like these, being wantonly judgmental can save a lot of time. I always go with the line which, in my estimation, contains the vehicles more indicative of good decision-making abilities and clear thinking. Model selection and state of repair are the main criteria.

Accord? Camry? Late-model minivan? Almost certainly fine. Economy car with a driver over 30? Again, probably fine. Kid? Probably not. Car full of teenagers? Definitely not. Big trucks and SUVs are a reasonable bet if there is evidence of use for big truck purposes (trailer hitch, ladder rack, or the like). Big trucks that are obviously exclusively grocery- and kid-schleppers are dicey. This excludes almost all Hummers, for example.

First-year Korean and GM products raise a yellow flag. Anything not built by an American, Japanese, Korean, German, or Swedish company is a red flag. Anything trendy and impractical is questionable. (Smart cars are on that list right now for me, unless I collect significant contrary data.) A hybrid that substantially resembles the non-hybrid version (Civic, Accord, Escape, and so forth) is good. Prius? Roll the dice. Insight? No.

State of repair is important, as well. A neglected newer car is trouble. Any temporary window covering (shower curtain, duct tape, and so forth) that is obviously older than a couple of days is a demerit. Anything over 10 years old that is in unusually good repair is probably golden. He may be a serial killer, but he’s clearly a systematic sort of person, which is all we’re concerned with in the ATM line. I’m particularly impressed when the vehicle is even older, and all of the lights (marker, license plate, etc.) work.

There are two variables. A small one is weighing the relative vehicle characteristics vs. the line length. What if a line contains substantially better vehicles, but is slightly longer? Make a call. Obviously, the longer the line, the less a slight discrepancy matters. Think in terms of average duration per car.

The bigger variable is the open door. Anyone at the machine with the vehicle door open is big trouble, no matter what s/he is driving. Whether the door is open because the vehicle window control is broken/absent, or the driver lacks the spatial sense to pull his/her car close enough to the machine to use the vehicle window, the mental processes occurring in the vehicle are likely of questionable quality, quantity, or both.

I’ve not yet encountered two lines of identical length for which the open door at the machine isn’t enough to tilt the equation conclusively in favor of the other line. The other line would have to be something like a diesel Oldsmobile 98, a $700 car with $5,000 wheels, and a Hyundai Scoupe full of giggly cheerleaders for me to stay in the open-door-at-the-machine line.

Judging books by covers? Yup. No way around it. If you drive a vehicle described as negative above, I apologize. I’m just going with what I see. This method works. Use it. Enjoy.

I help people. That’s what I do.

Similar Posts:

 Posted by at 12:36 pm

  6 Responses to “Save time at the drive-through ATM by being judgmental”

  1. So. You say serial killers are meticulous in their analytical skill and planning?

  2. I said systematic. You said all that other stuff. 🙂

  3. This works when you’re driving, as well. I am always nore cautious around drivers of American-made cars. If they are clueless enough to buy those things, then it’s a safe bet they are not very good drivers.

    This isn’t a snark. I’ve been driving since 1975 and this is something I have noticed from experience. It’s not foolproof, of course.

  4. You obviously don’t like waiting in lines! The only rule I advance for judging waiting lines is that one should never get in the shortest one. Also, never get in a line you see me waiting in, I have an uncanny knack for picking the slowest one!

    I find waiting in line a good opportunity for examining the trait of impatience, improving the virtue of patience, and working out differential equations in my head.

  5. Seriously, Honey – you’ve got too much time on your hands. If the line is longer than two cars, I park and go inside.

  6. Alan: There are good American cars and bad ones, often largely determined by when they were built. But I take your point.

    Gerry: I’ve gotten a lot more philosophical about a lot of things, but this isn’t one of them. I just want out and about something more interesting.

    Chili: I know it’s hard to believe given how jolly I am (ha!), but sometimes, I just don’t care for the company of others. In a certain mood, I’ll wait out a drive-through ATM line just to avoid face-to-face interaction. “Here in my car, I feel safest of all…” 🙂

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>