I had occasion yesterday to draw money from a hole in the wall. I say a hole in the wall, but in fact it was nothing of the kind. In point of fact, it was an ATM in the lobby of an HSBC bank.
A great invention, by the way, but one which stopped my (borderline illegal) get-rich-quick scheme in its tracks. In the old days, before ATMs were so abundant, the quickest way to draw money from one's account was to write a cheque for the amount and make it payable to "Cash", before handing it over to counter staff for redemption.
So I was going to change my name to Clement Ash, enabling me to pay in any stray cheques which the wind might blow my way. No point now. I'd make a rubbish international super-criminal.
Oh yes, yesterday's ATM. I bashed in my PIN and waited for the magic screen to appear offering me my own money.
"But wait, what's this?" I thought. An advertisement giving me the chance to take on a credit card appeared instead. Now I don't want a credit card. I don't want to get into unnecessary debt, I don't buy books from Amazon, and I have never felt the need to subscribe to any pornographic websites, so why would I need one.
But at the bottom of the screen were two options. "Yes", and "Not at the moment, thank you." "How dare they?" I thought. "How bloody dare they?"
I'm keen to say please and thank you. I hold doors open for much longer than necessary (admittedly only to watch people do that special run they do when they realise someone is holding the door open for them). I don't duck under the ropes to get to the back of one of those curly queues they have in post offices. In short, I'm a polite chap.
But it really does get my goat when people are polite on my behalf. Especially as I was a smidgen annoyed to be offered credit when all I wanted was my own money. What on earth is wrong with 'no'?
I hate HSBC for doing this.