Unless we can ’feel’ money in our hands, we go into a tizzy. And that is exactly what has happened in the last few days. Those with pots of money are having sleepless nights as suddenly the ‘feel good’ factor stored in trunks and vaults has no value. They can now only be at peace and breathe easy once they hold the new, crisp notes in their hands again… The ones that hold value! Those who have over time switched to plastic and online transactions are more at ease and those that had none from the very beginning, couldn’t care less.

We are a cash centric nation as is obvious from the hundreds of anxious faces waiting in serpentine queues outside ATMs. That’s not all. We are also selfish by nature and that is not going to change overnight. This is seen from the very fact that people are queuing up outside ATMs with not one but 3 – 4 different debit/credit cards of family members, therefore slowing down the whole process which ultimately leads to the cash running out before all those down the line can withdraw any for themselves. We all need a little bit of money for our daily needs…not too much but yes a little bit to get by till things even out. So at such times, we need to be understanding at the very least.

Basic etiquettes seem to have been thrown out of the window as well. There is a lot of elbow pushing, queue jumping, and shoving happening outside banks and post offices. Pick pockets are having a field time too I am told. Well, that’s not all… You have obnoxious people yelling at the bank staff that are working beyond their normal working hours and are already hard-pressed for time. Even though they are doing their best to ensure there are smooth, seamless transitions but No! Some people have to make their presence felt all the time with complete lack of respect to others.

Then we come to the “I am such an important man/woman” and you better take care of my demands above the others. He or she barks orders to the bank officials ... Incessantly! People that dare to interfere or correct them are ticked off and even told that there would be dire consequences if their orders are not followed. Seriously...this could be a soap opera by itself.

There are basic Do’s and Don’ts when you are in public spaces and you need to respect that…especially the person sitting/standing next to you or close to you who is in the same boat and is going through the same situation as the next. Dirty looks or polite suggestions from the others just pass over their heads. They couldn’t care less methinks. Or are they just thoughtless and insensitive! Let me also give them the benefit of doubt and say maybe they just don’t understand basic courtesies and etiquettes.

We could also show some compassion at such times. Yesterday evening, when my daughter and I stood in line for about an hour outside the ATM that is within the society we live in, there was a request for one of the security guards to jump in and go first as he was on duty and needed some money too. I had no problem in allowing the poor man to go first but those ahead of me created a huge shindy. Unfortunate and sad, don’t you think?

And I am not the only odd one watching all this or feeling uncomfortable or reaching a point of being absolutely fed-up. I see others squirming, staring at the rowdy lot even passing them dirty looks but this bunch is shameless and hopeless. Nothing can ruffle them at all.

In all this, I found people from the lower income strata the most humble… My loyal taxi driver Ravinder on hearing about my daughter’s predicament in the college hostel without the ‘new’ money to eat at the numerous canteens available on the campus said that I should have informed him as he would have gone over with 100 rupee notes and food. He also told me not to pay him for my ride from the railway station to my home till things had eased up. On telling him that we are all in the same boat he replied that he wanted to make sure that I should not go through any difficulties! This left me speechless.

And if things were not chaotic enough, my car battery decided to call it a day in the midst of all this. After getting a push-start we drove to my car mechanic who said I needed a new one as the battery had lasted 5 years too long! On explaining that I had very little cash in valid notes to pay… He just smiled and took my old notes and told me to relax and not worry about anything... That was his worry he said, not mine.

These are valuable lessons for all of us. When things get tough, the tough get going! The guilty weep!!