Thatz Not Okay: Can You Ask a Person Not to Put Their Feet on an ATM?

Welcome to Thatz Not Okay, a regular column in which I school inquiring readers on what is and is not okay. Please send your questions (max: 200 words) to caity@gawker.com with the subject "Thatz Not Okay."


Last weekend, a media figure I follow on Instagram posted a picture, snapped from behind, of a jeans-clad woman apparently using her toe to operate an ATM. She captioned the photo"Girl in front of me at ATM using only her feet got mad at me for asking her to please use her hands."

But, as some commenters on the photo pointed out, it's unclear whether the woman actually has hands or arms.

Eventually, the photographer waded into the comments herself to defend her actions (and her assumption that the woman had arms), but I'm not convinced she was right about either.

Maybe the woman had two perfectly functioning arms and maybe she didn't. Either way: Asking a stranger to please use her hands—is that okay?

Thatz not okay.

Unless you are a peace officer or a magician, it is rarely good practice to command strangers to do things in public; the more aberrant their behavior, the smaller the chance you are the person who should be stepping in. (Obviously, exceptions exist if their behavior poses a danger to you, to them, or to others.) If it were your job to intervene, you would already know that. "Chief of police" is not a title bestowed upon a random citizen whose powers have magically manifested themselves over time.

The best you can hope for in such a situation is to be subjected to an eyeroll and ignored. (Maybe a "Fuck you," if the air is salty.) You are very likely to end up with your foot (or someone else's foot) in your mouth. Nobody ever gets corrected by a stranger and then calmly says, "You're right! I was being inconsiderate. My apologies for being a cad."

If you take it upon yourself to dole out corrections and demerits to every person whose behavior you deem abnormal, you're eventually going to find yourself chiding someone disabled ("Stop wheeling that chair around indoors! What are you, a car?") and probably also antagonizing someone who is mentally unstable ("Stop talking to yourself on the subway! Can't you see I am trying to read?").

If you find yourself in a situation in which, say, the person in front of you is operating an ATM with his or her feet, before barking at them that ATMs are for HANDS, not FEET, you should pause and consider the odds that a sane person would hobble up to an ATM and think "Maybe I'll operate this money dispensary with me toesies!" if they had any other option available. Those odds are probably slim, right?

A person doing this is probably already aware that ATMs are for HANDS, not FEET given the height of the machines and above-average pedalian dexterity required to manipulate them with toes. If the ATM foot ballet "[seems] very casually done, while chatting to her friend, who [isn't] helping," mightn't that be an indication that this person has done this before? Perhaps even habitually? Possibly because she has no hands? And maybe her friend isn't intervening because this person does not require her help, as evidenced by her very casual use of the ATM?

If you strike up a hostile dialogue with such a person and they inform you that there is another ATM around the corner, don't respond by sneering "I'm sure there is, but I'm in line here." I'm sure you are in line here, but that is also the kind of thing an asshole would say. If you object to this person putting their feet on an ATM because you don't want to touch an ATM that has been feet'd, you should regard the machine around the corner as a godsend. If you think that your path to sainthood lies in protecting this ATM on behalf of all potential bank customers who could feasibly need to use this ATM and might hypothetically be upset that a person has put their leg-hands where arm-hands should go, you are wasting your outrage. A grimy outdoor ATM is one of the few things that would not be rendered appreciably grosser by being exposed to someone's feet. You should always wash your hands (or whatever your equivalent of hands is!) after using one.

Arguably, even ruder than correcting a stranger is public is secretly snapping a photo of that stranger and then using it to illustrate a comical Internet story about how you corrected them in public. For one thing, it could hurt your case more than you help it, as when the photograph you have secretly snapped behind the back of a woman you have braggingly chastised for not using her hands sort of makes it look like she has no hands. On top of that, it's rude to photograph people without their consent, especially if you're doing it to broadcast to the world how rude they are. Imagine if someone had snapped a photo of you snapping a photo of that woman and posted it to Instagram with the caption "Rude psycho yells at strangers and takes pictures of them #smh #onlyinnewyork #twerkteamNYC." That probably would not feel great.

In conclusion, you should not be touching random outdoor ATMs with any body part. Think of the withdrawal fees.


I recently broke up with my boyfriend of 1.5 years last month in a mutual, amicable split (well, as mutual and amicable as it can be) because he will be working in another city after he finishes grad school and the relationship seemed like it was on its way out anyway. I've decided to give OKCupid a try to start going on a dates again and begin meeting new people. I've gone out on a few dates with guys with varying success, and I've been on a few repeat dates so far. I like the idea of casting multiple lines in the sea, but I feel guilty about dating multiple people simultaneously. I neither admit nor deny to my dates about the others' existences. Is that okay?

Thatz okay.

Amicable, no-fault break-ups are exhausting.

With an acrimonious split, you get to feel liberated when you start dating other people.

"That man was no good. I deserve better. Look out world because I am about to step out into you and commence doing me."

You get catharsis. You get commiseration. But no one writes empowering ballads about kickin' that man to the curb because he's actually moving to Savannah after grad school and he sounds like a really great guy—hope you all keep in touch.

Amicable break-ups rob you of that feeling of righteousness. You didn't date an asshole. You were in a relationship with someone good that had to end due to outside factors. But you're not anymore, so even though you might feel like the dirtiest, nastiest two-timing extra butter slutmuffin for getting lunch with a guy on Saturday and brunch with a different guy on Sunday, you're not. You're just dating!

Even if they haven't just gotten out of a 1.5 year (18 moon) relationship with someone, lots of people still feel uncomfortable dating multiple people simultaneously. This becomes a problem when these people make their first foray into online dating, a modern pastime that makes it very easy to date multiple people simultaneously. But feeling guilty about exploring your options with the beautiful, tiny people you meet inside your computer is akin to feeling guilty about taking a penny from the "Take-a-Penny/Leave-a-Penny" tray. Everyone who leaves a penny can spare one. Everyone who signs up for an online dating service is cool dating people who date people from online dating services.

You don't have to feel like the bad guy here. You can let OKCupid be the bad guy.

Here are two pieces of advice for dating folks on OKCupid:

One: Before every date, text your friends the name and location of the person you're meeting and tell them if they don't hear back from you by X o'clock (BE SURE TO SWAP OUT THE X FOR A NUMBER BETWEEN 1 AND 12), they are to assume you have been murdered or kidnapped and murdered.

Two: Assume all the people you meet on OKCupid are also meeting people on OKCupid. (Even sites like Christian Mingle acknowledge that simultaneous dating will occur. No one mingles with just one person. Not even a Christian.)

OKCupid is a dating site. It is a free dating site. It exists to maximize your efficiency. By creating a profile for yourself on OKCupid, what you are saying is "I want the most dates for the least effort. Here's my picture; my favorite movie is: Rushmore, a secret about me is: that I'm eager to date and bad at keeping secrets. Email me for lunch or sex. Please keep in mind I am poor and/or cheap, hence my profile on this free dating website."

If you were looking to date one and only one person, hopefully you would entrust the task of matchmaking to a cupid whose aim was better than "OK."

This is not to say you should start telling your dates about all the condoms you are casting into the majestic sea. The paradox of OKCupid is that, even though everyone knows everyone is dating other people, no one (with manners) ever talks about it. If you must refer to other dates, the polite thing to do is to speak about them as though they occurred in the distant, almost biblical, past. "I have mingled before, but it was a while ago. Back in the days of Christ," etc.

(If you still feel uneasy about your status as a lothario-in-training, it might help to know that the almost-strangers you are "cheating on" would probably feel way more uncomfortable if they knew you considered yourself wholly and exclusively bound to them after one coffee date and one free Young Persons Night at your city's art museum than if they found out you were dating other people too.)

How will you know when it's time to stop dating other people? That time will probably directly coincide with the moment you start to feel weird about maintaining an active OKCupid profile page.

Have fun. Say "Yes!" to love. Say "Hey girl, how have you been?" to intrigue.

Submit your "Thatz Not Okay" questions here (max: 200 words). Image via Instagram.