My First EMV and the Girl With the Dragon Tattoos

solid-black-tribal-dragon-tattoo-on-forearmSelf-serve station at Wal-mart. I had a gallon of transmission fluid and some aftershave. One of those late night shops.

Swiped my card, and got a prompt about hitting “OK” with instructions.

I looked again and wondered if I had swiped the non-mag side, so I swiped again carefully.

Same error message. I read it more carefully and saw it said “insert in bottom.”

I realized it was my new Amex chip card and I needed to do the new insert thing, but the self-serve station was hanging vertical, which made that awkward.

That’s when the young girl with the dragon tattoos around her forearms started walking over to me. She held out her hand to take the card from me.

“No…” I said in a friendly way, “I need to figure this out myself.”

I looked down, and saw the slot on the bottom, thought about which end should go in… certainly the chip end, inserted, and watched the transaction start working. I pulled the card out.

Error message: “Transaction cancelled.”

“You have to leave it in,” said the reserved dragon girl.

I inserted it and left it in this time until the transaction was complete, the two of us watching. Hoping.


The dragon girl wandered back to her station a few feet away.

“I guess that was better,” I said.

“It’s supposed to be safer,” she said. Humbled, I decided not to bring up any of my EMV stories. This was her turf.

It was about midnight. I didn’t ask her about her dragon tattoos. She didn’t ask me about my transmission fluid and aftershave.

Jeb Cashin is a radio repairman by night and a marketing technologist by day. He follows the payments industry and works for Harland Clarke.

​#payments #emv ​#chipcomplete

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One Reply to “My First EMV and the Girl With the Dragon Tattoos”

  1. That was the best story I’ve ever read on the internet. The author – truly a literary genius as evidenced by his terse, spare style in limning the character of the girl – takes us on an unsettling journey through the darkness of the night of his soul. His frustration and ineptitude in dealing with the “god” of the card-reader is a reflection of our own impotence in the face of the dehumanization of our daily interactions with our own, personal late night shops.
    Clearly the author must have graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1983. I would surmise he most likely expressed his nascent rage against the encroachment of mechanization through a comic strip, or perhaps he trod the boards as Dorilant in The Country Wife by William Wycherly. In either case, we would have witnessed the incipient power of a rising force of literary nature, whose fulminations reached their apogee in the piece he deigned to share with us above.
    We are blessed to have lived in his time…
    ….then again….I could have the wrong guy….
    -J D

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