For as long as I remember, my relations with the material world have been awful. Rules and restrictions just aren’t for me. The idea that one and one makes two has always repulsed me.
I’m so afraid of any communication, paperwork or people from the bank I only find out what’s happening in my account when someone phones
In daylight hours, I don’t dare pass the Gan Ha’ir shopping complex in central Tel Aviv. This is to avoid the possibility I might encounter one of the employees from my bank. I deposit money in envelopes in the middle of the night. I never answer phone calls from unidentified callers in the morning hours shortly after the bank opens.
'Shema' at ATM
The most recent fixation I developed is the most pathetic. Every time before I withdraw money from the ATM, I recite “Shema Yisrael.” It’s a kind of foreplay, to get things loosened up so whatever goes in comes back out.
To our story. Me. Wednesday night. Dizengoff Center in the heart of Tel Aviv. ATM. Nothing special was written on the screen. The heartwarming mechanical noises were heard portending the return of my bank card and the granting of cash. But suddenly the words “Please insert your card” inexplicably appeared on the screen. Before I fully grasped the horror of what was happening, the machine spat out a bank slip with “Your card will be returned to you in the branch,” printed on it.
I nearly cried. I had only 50 shekels (about USD 11), two cigarettes, no one to talk to and I didn’t understand what had happened. On one side, it’s not logical for the ATM to swallow my card without bank people yelling at me beforehand. On the other, I’m in my normal overdraft. On the third side, there was nothing written about any irregularity.
I was stricken with primitive survival instincts, like unexpected hunger - a response to a feeling of helplessness of being stuck with no means. My plan had been to eat out after the film. At home there’s only mineral water, a variety of moist towelettes and crackers. Meager living.
I canceled the film. The last thing I wanted to do now was to sit in the dark and watch Jeremy Irons screw Annette Bening. I can only take so much. So I did what I always do in times of distress: Idol worship.
How good it is to have friends connected to the spiritual world. The tarot cards she turned up produced three cups. Everything’s OK. Still, I had a nightmarish night. At the bank the following day I discovered that my tarot friends were right. Not only had the ATM swallowed my card due to a technical malfunction and would be returned to me, but my overdraft had shrunk.
Yes, it would take “up to one week” to get the card back because it first passes through the “ATM Center” - God knows what that means - but out of joy I made necessary arrangements. I took a loan, ordered checks and even another credit card, for emergencies, and also because it’s ready in just a few days, so I wouldn’t need to make a round of appearances at the bank.
I called my spiritual friend to tell her the cards had been correct and international grumbling day had ended. She gave me a lecture on karma, the collective repression of women by the archetypal male figure and our war against the male monopoly over material.
I have a less feminist solution to this riddle. When I approached the ATM that night, I was on the phone. Instead of ending the conversation and reciting my regular prayer, I decided to give up on the fixation and tempt fate. I pulled a Bonnie and Clyde on the rituals that protect me, and like a horny prisoner just released from prison, I rudely shoved the ATM card into the slot.
It’s no surprise this awakened a cosmic hormonal attack against me. Sin and punishment - the digital version. The sin - disrespect and lack of effort in foreplay. The punishment - a small reminder of my place in the food chain. I’ve learned my lesson.