As plastic supersedes cash for more and more transactions, it seems that those self-service credit card dip machines are ever more prevalent—and frustrating. I am not referring to credit card interfaces that you use to swipe or insert your chip card for payment at the checkout counter. Those are ubiquitous, but relatively easy to use.
No, the bane of my existence are those parking meters, train ticket machines, garage payment terminals, gas pumps and ATMs with slots that require a nimble grip and coordination to dip your card most of the way in and pull it back out. Some of these contraptions have little friction and are relatively easy to use. But the ones that grip your card are simply a disaster for my hands.
This was true even before my surgery. Now, with even less of a grip, I struggle to stick the card all the way into the slot, let alone pull out the card fast enough to spare myself a voided transaction.
A couple of weeks ago, I was trying to add value to my Charlie Card (for those of you unfamiliar with the Boston T, these are plastic cards that you tap at the subway turnstile to gain entry). I had no cash on me, so I had to pick the credit card alternative. And the machine had one of those dastardly tight credit card grips. I tried at least three times to dip my card, but the transaction failed to register. I was really aggravated.
Not knowing what else to do, I stepped aside to reorganize my wallet. Then, in a necessity-is-the-mother-of-invention moment, I had an idea. What if I used my nail clippers, the kind that you unfold into a V and squeeze the ends to trim your nails, as a way to grip my credit card? The card is too thick for the clippers to damage.
After a bit of fumbling to retrieve the clippers from my purse, I waited for the line at the ticket machine to clear and stepped up to try my experiment. Sure enough, one dip and my transaction went through! I was very pleased with myself.
Back home, I described my victory to Al. He had an even better idea: use a bulldog clip to hold the card. These are those metal clips with wings that you can flip up to squeeze the clip open and flip down when the clip is secured. They come in all different sizes, so it’s just a matter of experimenting to achieve the right balance of required finger pressure and fulcrum length.
So, there you have it. I hope this works for you, Dear Reader, if you share my struggle with credit card dipping. And if anyone out there has an even better solution, please let me know.
Evelyn Herwitz blogs weekly about living fully with chronic disease, the inside of baseballs, turtles and frogs, J.S. Bach, the meaning of life and whatever else she happens to be thinking about at livingwithscleroderma.com.