The news arrived via the local supermarket just minutes before it hit the wires - eftpos is down, expect long delays in the checkout queue.
Money slowed down immediately. Some of the tedious administrative tasks involved in this most basic of financial transactions were made visible. Staff manning antiquated zip-zap machines issued customers with paper dockets that had to be processed at the one remaining computer-linked desk before they could return to claim their fast-moving consumer goods.
Cash-carriers were given preferential treatment and they must have felt vindicated in their Luddite tendencies: 'I just knew this electronic money business would end badly' etc.
When really, it's just incredible the system doesn't break down more often. Although, a quick search engine survey linking your favourite bank with the term 'glitch' will undoubtedly reveal a result. Here's what I found out about the big four Australian banks (they own us, remember) using that very process:
These are recent glitches, the Commonwealth Bank one, for example, occurring on the same day as our eftpos outage, which happened to be the rare date of February 29.
The Commonwealth Bank denied it was a leap year problem, publishing that catch-all PR disaster response: "We are working to resolve that issue as soon as possible."
Despite a lingering suspicion that internet-intermediated money is not completely trustworthy, the push towards it is inexorable. Read this Daily Telegraph article for a glimpse of a frustrating future as envisaged by smartphone operators.
Meanwhile, back in the supermarket queue, not all systems were down. The strategically important Lotto IT infrastructure remained operational.