A very belated repost from John Doe’s Writings, followed by the commentary from the original post…
Imagine, if you will, that you’ve been driving all night on the way to your vacation spot. Just before leaving, though, you had an argument with a loved one, and so the frame of mind you were in didn’t lend itself to checking your gasoline (petrol) gauge. Only when you’re well on your way do you realize that the needle is on “E” and not moving.
Fortunately, you spot a station not far ahead. As you approach, you see that the station is well lit, which means it’s open. You also notice that there’s a sign that says “FULL SERVICE ONLY” and that no one seems to be in the cashier’s booth.
You pull up to the pump and notice as you stop that there is a rail along side the pump that prevents you from coming quite as close as you normally would to a gasoline pump. You also notice a group of what appear to be automatic teller machines around the outside of the cashier’s booth. Just as you’re about to honk your horn to awaken the attendant that you’re sure is asleep in the booth, you spot movement outside the booth. One of the machines appears to be rolling in your direction.
As it approaches, you see that it is indeed a movable ATM. But, how is it moving? There isn’t anyone pushing or pulling, and there doesn’t seem to be any track affixed to the ground. Nevertheless, the machine rolls up along side your car, between the rail and the pump.
A pleasant female voice speaks. “Good evening, sir. Are you paying cash or charge?”
You jump, not expecting to be spoken to. When you look over at the machine again, you see a small speaker grille, just as the voice says again, “Sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“Um, that’s OK,” you reply. “I… guess I’ll charge it.”
“I’ll need you to stick your card into the slot,” the voice says, as a flashing light indicates the card reader slot.
“Where are you?” you ask. “And who’s gonna pump my gas?”
“This is a full service station, sir,” the voice says, its tone giving the impression it’s answered that question many times before. “As for where I am, well, that’s kind of complicated.”
You place your card in the slot… to find that the authorization failed. Your card is maxed out.
“I’m sorry, sir,” the voice says, “but your card was not accepted.”
“So I can’t buy any gas?!” you say in exasperation.
“No problem, sir. I can accept cash.” Again, a light flashes on the front of the machine, indicating the bill feeder slot. “Uh, fill it up,” you say, fishing out a $20 bill from your pocket and feeding it into the machine.