Most trains have a quiet car. I wish banks had a quiet ATM kiosk.
Like many New Yorkers, I rarely use a teller. I do all my transactions at an ATM. I am checking the balances on three accounts, depositing checks, looking to see which ones cleared, ensuring my paycheck arrives every two weeks, withdrawing cash and transferring money to pay bills.
This requires some degree of concentration.
The branch of the bank I use most frequently in the West Village has four carrels. Even with an empty ATM spot next to me, I’m invariably distracted — and annoyed — by loud conversations other bank customers are having on their cellphones.
Maybe the customers are just checking balances, which they can obviously do while shouting to their spouse or nanny about truly important matters like what to pick up for dinner or where to meet for a drink three hours later. Or talking about things that should be private, such as divorce proceedings.
I try to tune them out, but it is virtually impossible. Even worse was the situation I encountered in a larger branch in Chelsea, where a youngster bounced his basketball the entire time I was trying to do my banking. It did not seem to faze his mother as the sound reverberated off the walls.
Banks could encourage a quieter environment by putting up signs similar to what I see in waiting rooms: “Please refrain from using your cellphones.” I think an issue is the quick in-and-out nature of running to the ATM while doing other errands. It does not occur to people to turn off their sidewalk behavior for five minutes. But people can be trained.
I recently took a two-hour bus ride from the Jersey Shore to Port Authority. People spoke softly. They were considerate and I actually read a book.
I understand it is not realistic in many situations to expect cellphone silence for long periods, but people can certainly shut off their phones during short transactions at contained ATM kiosks.
I’m busy, too, and don’t want to wait until the person next to me stops screaming.
Have these customers never heard of texting, or cellphone banking?
Kate Walter is the author of “Looking for a Kiss: A Chronicle of Downtown Heartbreak and Healing.”