How to set an ATM on fire

That\’s a snazzy title if I do say so myself! Where did it come from? Well, I was reminiscing about crazy work stories with my coworker, and I then remembered that I\’d never really told the story of how I set an ATM on fire while on the job. So… Here we go!

In the summer after I graduated high school, I wanted to get a job other than working for my parents as I had for several years. So I talked with a friend who was a branch manager at a local bank and she recommended me for the summer hire program. So for the first time in my life, I went to interview for a job.

Needless to say, I got the job. And strangely like my current profession, I was one of the only men to do the job of a bank teller. :-) Anyway, I had been working at different banks in the area, rotating to a new one every other week. Finally I ended up at a location that I really liked. The other tellers were friendly and really enjoyed having me around.

A new opportunity

Every day around two o\’clock, two tellers had to go out and restock the ATM. I was always running the drive thru, so I didn\’t get to go out and see how the ATM worked. I was interested in learning, so I got one of them to let me swap and go out to observe.

The next day, I went out with the other teller. Don\’t forget, I was just out of high school, so I was pumped about learning about how something cool like the ATM worked. As she opened the door inside the ATM and started counting the money, I couldn\’t really see what she was doing. I walked around her to see the other side, but the door was in my way. So I pulled it open.

Big Oopsie

Apparently the door to the ATM was on some kind of half-hinge that disconnects when opened all the way. When I pulled it past a certain point, the solid steel door slipped off its hinges and fell to the floor, ripping out the cables that attached it to the ATM.

Smoke immediately started boiling out of the ATM and an incredibly loud alarm began blaring. Being lowly tellers, we had absolutely no idea how to fix the problem I had caused, so we both went back into the bank and called Diebold to come and fix their darn ATM.

I was the lucky sucker who got to go out and put the “Out of Order” sign on the ATM when the technician told us it would take a week to fix.

Anyone else have a horribly embarrassing or completely hilarious story to tell about one of their early jobs? I know I can\’t be the only one!

10 thoughts on “How to set an ATM on fire

  1. adowling

    Having working as a teller that balanced an ATM on a regular basis and then the manager of a branch with tellers that balanced an ATM and then the back office Accounting person that balanced an ATM to the GL, BAD BEN! OMG that’s too funny though. I remember the first time I got to replinish the ATM, I was just as curious. We had cash dispenser at a branch I worked in and most of our vault money was kept there. I was filling in for my head teller who was out and had the joy of balancing the cash dispenser. I broke it. It has two drums in it that have very small plastic clips that hold it in the machine. I got frustrated with the drums and shoved them into the machine. The machine was down for several days. The tellers in the drive-thru were so mad at me. I bought lunch for several days to appease them.
    .-= adowling´s last blog ..An apology just doesn\’t cut it =-.

  2. Ben Post author

    That is hilarious! I really should have got some lunch for the other tellers, too, but I had to bear much of the brunt as the drive thru teller (all the ATM people came to ME for cash). Whew. At least I’m not the only clumsy one. :-)

  3. Drew Hawkins

    One summer I worked as a temp at the Owensboro Riverport working on barges etc. For a while we were overhauling an old steel mill to transform into another port area for barges. We were sent to clean out a room in a building and were not able to see in that room due to a lack of electricity. With an absent foreman, one of the guys suggested I take the Bobcat loader and loosen up a brick on the outer wall of the building to get some sunlight in the room for visibility. I hopped in the Bobcat, bumped the wall with the loader, and the entire side wall of the building collapsed. It was a big enough hole to see from a nearby highway. Our bosses were beyond angry but seeing how I was going back to school the next week anyway,I took all the heat for it.

    Not as cool as setting an ATM on fire but it’s all I’ve got.

    1. Ben Post author

      Drew, that story is probably even cooler. I wish I could have seen everyone’s face when you “bumped” it and the entire wall started coming over. For a second there, I’m sure someone was thinking “this is the smartest idea we’ve ever had!” And then it went over. :-) Thanks for sharing!

    1. Ben Post author

      Avil, maybe I can help to broaden those horizons. :-) You write very well for someone who’s shy!

  4. Avil Beckford


    That’s the point, introverts tend to write very well. You often have time to think things through before you put them down on paper. Sometimes though, I have written things and thought, this is beyond bad.

    But you’ll be happy to know that I have been trying new things and loving it. If something embarrassing happens I’ll be sure to let you know.

    But on a more serious note, I am sure that your curiosity has also served you well, and you have learned a lot by simply taking the initiative. Curiosity is one of the ingredients for creativity.

    .-= Avil Beckford´s last blog ..The Invisible Mentor Career Corner =-.

  5. Pingback: The Time I Intentionally Insulted a Candidate I was Recruiting… | upstartHR

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