Get Out Of My ATM Bubble

I rarely get out of my car to use the ATM anymore because I am lazy and have children strapped into contraptions, which regularly pinch and beat me, called car seats. I will drive blocks out of my way to avoid getting out of my car. However, there is one bank on the way home with a walk-up ATM and not too long ago I stopped to use it….

I park right in front of the ATM and mosey out of the car until I catch another car parking opposite me and I can feel the RACE TO THE ATM coming on.

Luckily, Scott was with me so I yell: GET THE KIDS OUT OF THE CAR I’M HEADING TO THE ATM.

Five seconds later, I’m shoving my bank card into one of the eighteen slots ATM’s now have as my rival steps onto the sidewalk thwarted. I take a breath and find where I’m supposed to put the card while my kids run up to me and ooh and ah over the many shiny buttons and slots and screens.

I’m about to type in my password into the keyboard when I notice this stranger is in MY ATM BUBBLE.

Yes, I know I beat her to the machine, but I parked first and closest. She had no good reason to be inching in, and I had every good reason to think she’s spying on my password because why else would she be disrespecting the bubble?

I box her out as I punch in my numbers and pretend to be typing in other numbers, which is challenging since I only have 5 fingers and my ring finger is not strong enough to push buttons with accuracy even though it’s the best one for the job since no one expects the 4th finger to be typing in the code.

Exhausted with the effort of not protecting my money and personal space, I gallantly push forward to the business of depositing a month’s worth of checks with a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old. However, I can feel my rival breathing in my bubble.  I desperately look for the ATM regulations sign to subtly point my chin towards.



Her overbearing actions flips the arrogant rule-breaking tailgater switch in me, and I slow down. The ATM may not have a speed limit, but I have two kids with an extraordinarily strong sense of justice so I split the checks between my kids, which is only fair but means we have to go through the deposit cycle twice.

I know if I make eye contact, I will begin to apologize for being a mom with checks, for being there first, for being fair, for being slow, for defending my personal space, for screwing with her. Instead, I latch on to my annoyance at her disrespect for the sacred bubble and tell my children loudly: You’re doing great guys! You are so helpful. Oh sweetie, it’s not your turn yet. We have to practice patience.

Shockingly, extolling to my children to practice patience does not encourage her to stop examining the pores on my neck. I am out of tricks until the ATM machine comes to my rescue by refusing to deposit or return my last check. Seconds become minutes as I talk my bubble-supporting ATM comrade into giving me back my check. When the ATM finally returns the check, I attempt to deposit it ONE MORE TIME.

A HRMPH and a swish of wind brings way-too-big of a smile to my face as I listen to my rival stomps off and peel out of the parking lot. My son takes my receipt, and I hold it up in the air in triumph.


Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

8 thoughts to “Get Out Of My ATM Bubble”

  1. I’m glad you won because OMG who disrespects the ATM bubble?! Also, you are far braver than I- I’m afraid of depositing checks into ATMs so I use the drive-up window. (Thankfully I only get checks about twice a year.)

  2. I also despise those in the grocery store that stand at the card swiper while I’m trying to pay for my food. Back off buddy! Unless you are trying to pay for my $150 worth of groceries. Then happily stand almost pressed against me. Otherwise I’m about to drop kick you to the end of the conveyer belt – where you belong.

  3. I normally hate it when other people expect me to know their ideas of common decency & etiquette, but this is one of the ones that pushes my buttons and makes me want to yell “did you grow up in a BARN?!?!” And yes, it applies to tailgaters, grocery store checkout lines, and the electronic return thingie at the library. STEP OFF, folks. Posing as my shadow will not make your turn come any faster.

    (Ok, sometimes I have to remind myself to take a few steps back at the library book return. Some little part of me thinks that if I don’t return those books RIGHT NOW my fine will grow exponentially.)

  4. You preserved the bubble AND drove your nemesis to retreat – you are Spartacus!

    BTW, the last time I attempted to use an ATM, I forgot my PIN number and attempted to type in my voice mail code. That’s how infrequently I use the ATM. Or cash. All hail the mighty debit card!

  5. SERIOUS REPLY: I implore everyone to defend their ATM bubble with extreme prejudice. ANYONE who comes up behind you should be rebuked with a stern “BACK OFF”. Here’s why. A few years ago I was at the ATM in a grocery store. As I was counting my bills this guy walks up and says he needs to restock the deposit envelopes. He flashes a fan of envelopes. I tell him to back off and he apologizes and backs away. I’m at Target when I notice I don’t have my card. I figured that the machine sucked it back in when I was distracted by Envelope Boy. The machine didn’t suck my card. He stole it. When he flashed the fan of envelopes it covered the card sticking out waiting for me to grab it. His other hand took the card and he backed away. When I got home and checked my account I found out he’d bought $56 in booze. I got off light. BEWARE!! GUARD YOUR BUBBLE!!!

  6. ATM Bubbles. A sacred space to be shared among 2 people: me and the ATM. It’s like the Pharmacy counter bubble. DO NOT STAND CLOSE to the first person in line speaking to the pharmacist. It’s like letting the whole world know who’s got a stinky butt.

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