Thursday, September 13, 2012

When being nice is more important than the rules

The other day I decided to combine my run with a trip to the supermarket for a few things we needed. I probably looked quite odd, arriving at the express checkout sweaty, in running gear, with two cartons of cooking cream, 2kg of strong white flour, a packet of sunflower seeds and a bottle of Yazoo. But the very pleasant young man working the till didn't bat an eyelid. After he had scanned my items, I made two attempts at my PIN and still didn't know it. He was fine with putting my things (half of which I were already in my running bag) to one side while I went outside to call my husband to check if he knew it. He didn't. I came back in and made a third attempt, but got it wrong again, locking my card. My friend behind the till put my groceries aside while I went outside again to call my bank. They told me that if I had locked it at a point of sale I could unlock it at a bank machine. I went back in, explained, and went out to the bank machine outside the shopping center. Where I proceeded to make another two failed attempts at remembering my PIN. I rang the bank again. She told me that she would send a PIN reminder and that if I got it wrong at the machine again my card would be swallowed. I went back inside and explained the situation to the man behind the till. He said, somewhat conspiratorially, that he could try swiping it and see if it would let me sign instead of using my PIN. I was, of course, aware that he was offering to break the rules for me. And I was delighted. He tried a few times, and eventually it accepted the card that way, I signed for and received my groceries. Under normal circumstances, I'd be dismayed at the idea of someone being allowed to sign to use a locked chip and PIN card. But honestly, if someone had gone to the bother of staging all of that in order to steal eleven euro worth of groceries from me? I'd let them have them.

I'm a big fan of rules. But sometimes, being nice is better than following them.

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