Tag Archives: short story

The Astrophysicist and the Napkin

7 Sep

Found this story while going through old files on my computer. I wrote it back in 2012, and it still makes me happy. As this is a rare thing, I thought I’d share.



It began like any other day. I awoke in a fog, the remnants of an equation that promised to unify string theory, or at least solve our current propulsion problems, threatening to dart back into my unconscious. I dragged myself out of bed and into the shower. I spun the dial into the arctic zone, trying to shock my mind into clarity, but only succeeded in shocking my sympathetic nervous system into overdrive.
Shivering uncontrollably, I cut the shower short. It’s not like I had a job where my coworkers cared about my personal hygiene. Actually, considering how my coworkers were all mainframe computers, if they started caring about my personal hygiene, I’d have bigger problems than unwashed hair. Three unknown variables buzzed around my head, but I couldn’t get them to land in the proper order.

I’d already started the coffee maker and the toaster before I noticed anything odd. Those three variables had been joined by a host of integers, all taunting my mental ambiguity with their significance. I grabbed the grocery list off the fridge, intending to ink those little alphanumeric buggers into some sort of permanence, pulled a chair out, and realized said chair already had an occupant.

“Miss Grabau, is it?” the woman said, smiling calmly despite my recent attempt to unseat her.

“Uh, yes.” I said. I then noticed the other chair also had an occupant- a man in a red flannel shirt.

My toast popped up with its usual, and somewhat disturbing, clang. Despite the dark sunglasses they wore, I could tell the pair regarded my modified toaster with mild alarm.

“May I offer you some toast?” I asked.

“No, thank you. But you could offer us a tour of your marvelous lab.” The woman said.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I said, turning to retrieve my breakfast before it burned.

“Oh, let’s not play games.” The woman said. “The university may have fired you last year, but you’re still in touch with Dr. Ellis, aren’t you?”

I calculated the probability that the woman was bluffing. It was possible, given that Derrick Ellis was widely regarded in the scientific community as being off his nut, but the hint of danger in her voice led me to err on the side of caution. I kept my mouth shut and pretended to fight the toaster for my precious last slice of bread.

“She’s not going to give it up.” I heard the man say. Even with my back turned, I could feel the heat of the glare he got in response.

“Fine, Miss Grabau. You show me mine, and I’ll show you yours.”

When someone says something like that, it is very difficult not to respond. “What?” I asked.

“You show me where you’ve hidden my computers, and I’ll give you this.” The woman held up a napkin. Scrawled on it was the equation that had been haunting me for weeks, in full and completely balanced.

“Huh. Would you look at that.” I said.

“Now,” said the woman. “About that tour.”

I shoved my now-burned breakfast into my mouth and placed my palm on the concealed switch behind the blender. The wall behind me slid away smoothly. I could hear the soft whirl and hum of my many mechanical coworkers far below.
The pair rose and peered into the darkness. Red flannel shirt man took a step down, his hand groping the wall in search of a light switch. The woman braced herself on the door jamb with her right hand. Her left hand held the napkin loosely, like it was a simple bar sketch rather than the key to my more than twenty years of research. If I reached out now, I could grab it.

So, that’s what I did. I grabbed the napkin, watched the woman spin around and take an involuntary step backward into the stairwell, and removed my hand from the pressure switch. The panel slid back into place silently, just as I had designed it to do.

I could hear the pair scuffling behind the wall. They’d probably find the light switch soon. Then they would walk down the spiral staircase, take in the majesty of my beautiful lab, and have exactly 42 seconds to appreciate what I’d done with their computers.

After all, the toaster wasn’t the only machine I’d modified.

Blog Search Term Challenge

19 Jul

Over the last few days, I’ve had at least three conversations with various people about the search terms people use to find our blogs.  Most of the time, I win.  This is largely because people insist on Googling “transvestite panda cub” and winding up on this picture:

 I wonder if the zoo knows?

However, I want to give the internet a chance to beat me.  If you have a blog that tracks search terms, and you have a term or two that you think is a real winner, post it in the comments below.  You can submit as many as you want, but they must all be real search terms used to find your blog.

Most bloggers announce a giveaway at the point.  As in, “if your search term beats mine, I’ll send you this!”  For those of you who read this blog regularly, you’ll already know that isn’t going to happen.  I don’t have anything to give away (except for a VHS copy of Dinotopia, and I’m not sure there’s anyone out there who wants that).

But what I can do is write.  So, I offer this: I will write a short story using the best three search terms submitted by you, my dear readers, as central plot points.  (This idea comes from a conversation on Twitter a few days ago, in which the viability of a children’s book about transvestite panda cub with self-esteem issues and misadventures with Spanx was discussed.  Sadly, that book may never see publication.)

So, here’s how this will work.  Post your favorite weird search term in the comments below, or tweet them to me @kdidd.  Next Thursday, 7/26, I’ll put up a poll of my 10 favorites.  You’ll have a week to vote.  On August 2nd, I’ll announce the winners (and try to convince someone to take Dinotopia off my hands).  On August 9th, I’ll post the story.

Start posting those search terms.  Someone found my blog this morning by searching “how to stop bugs from eating my brain.”  The bar has been set high, ladies and gentlemen, the bar has been set high.

I’m Being Chased By Zombies Today, So Here Are Some Things To Entertain You

28 Jun

That title wasn’t a lie to get you to click on my blog.  I really am being chased by zombies today, and I really did plan ahead and find a couple of things to entertain you in my absence.  You’re welcome.  If the zombies don’t win, I’ll see you all on Monday.

1) I wrote a thing.  It’s not a big thing at all, but it’s a thing I quite like.  It is also a thing that has nothing to do with finance.  It’s called The Astrophysicist and The Napkin.  You can read it here: http://voices.yahoo.com/the-astrophysicist-napkin-11504108.html?cat=44

2) I do have some finance info to share.  One of my readers sent me an infographic on debt collection, which appeared on his blog at the beginning of June.  I don’t repost things unless I find them a) highly amusing, or b) highly insightful.  This entry is mostly part b, but it does have pictures of blobby-robot-type creatures with telephones, and that kind of stuff just makes me giggle.  As such, I’ve decided to report the infographic here.  Read on and learn some important things about what is and is not legal in debt collection.  You can see more tips and tricks from Colin at http://frugaldad.com/

american debt collection infographic

Source: http://FrugalDad.com

A Most Terrible Fruit-Based Murder

14 Jun

Those poor, poor baby carrots.

Last night at Art Club, a terrible thing happened.  There was a murder in the kitchen.  The poor innocent baby carrots saw it all.  They will never be the same.  Warning: the following pictures contain graphic depictions of a fruit-related homicide.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking the googly eyes make it any easy to see.

Let me back up a bit, and explain how this all started.

For being such a low-pressure social setting, Art Club can do funny things to a person.  It makes one person bring in dragonflies, makes another root through desk drawers to find old art supplies, and makes a third put a poll up on a blog asking/begging for inspiration.  (That last person is me, in case you missed it.)

The winner of yesterday’s poll was “D) Nothing.  You should just hover by the food and put googly eyes on the carrot sticks.”

You people know me so well.

As soon as I arrived at Art Club last night, I was informed that despite the Internet Having Spoken, I would be forced (forced I say!) into making An Art.  No hovering was allowed.  My well-crafted plan to eye-bomb the vegetables and have them stage an off-off-off Broadway musical number at the end of Art Club would not be allowed to proceed (not least because off-off-off Broadway show tunes aren’t allowed at Art Club.  The fascists.)

I dragged my poor injured self (seriously- I partially dislocated my patella on Saturday.  I have a fancy knee brace and everything now) over to a chair and sat down.  I promptly stood back up and started wandering.  I wander a lot, but especially at Art Club.  There are just so many places to get inspiration from.  I grabbed one of the 12” x 16” canvases and snagged two jars of Scrabble letters and typewriter keys.  I sat back down in my chair and stared for a second.  Then I got back up and got a pencil.  Then I sat down again.  Then I got back up and got a ruler.  Then I sat down again.  Then I spent five minutes trying to convince fluffy-white-muppet dog to come over and let me pet him.  Then I gave up and stared at my canvas again.  Surprisingly, after all that effort, the canvas was still blank.

I opened the typewriter key jar and started spreading out the letters.  A line from my blog has been spinning around in my head for a while, and now I can’t actually remember if it even made it into the blog.  In any case, I thought it was a cool quote, even if I did write it, and I wanted to illustrate it.

Yes, I know.  “C) A quotation-based piece, since it turned out so pretty last time” came in last place in the poll, but I can’t help myself.  I like words, and especially the way they can evoke beautiful images through the simple lines of the letters.

Also, I’m really good at drawing trees.  And this particular quote let me draw a nice forest scene again.

But I’m getting off-track.  We were discussing a murder, not my artistic tendencies.

So, before all this chair-sitting and not-chair-sitting stuff happened, the apple bird came into existence.  Carved carefully with a rather large (for the job) knife, the apple bird was painstakingly crafted, crisp slice by crisp slice.  The three of us in the kitchen (definitely NOT hovering over the food, as that wasn’t allowed) just watched in amazement.  Once completed, the apple bird stood in majestic repose upon the cutting board.  We all stared, transfixed by its beauty.

The apple bird: the most majestic of the fruit-based avians.

The artist scooped up her creation and went to show it off to the others.  As soon as she left, a voice was heard to say sadly, “Now that bird is going to have to die a terrible death tonight.”

No one admitted to saying it, but we all heard it.  And we all knew it to be true.

That bird would have to die that very evening.  Beauty can never last.

Fast-forward an hour or two.  I am now sitting in my chair, and have been for some time.  I am sketching a lovely forest scene on my canvas, and everyone else is doing Art Stuff too.

Actually, that part is kinda boring. Fast-forward another hour.

Now I am painting a lovely forest scene.  I am using a sponge (I know, I know, I’m so clever)  to create an authentic worn path/ field of grass/ tree canopy look.  Everyone else is still doing Art Stuff too.

Suddenly, there is a scream from the kitchen, cut short by the sound of a knife hitting a plate with a sickening thwack.  I leapt up from the table, ready to spring into action.  No one seemed to notice, or more likely, were purposefully ignoring the now-muffled weeping emanating from the kitchen.

You guys, the scene in the kitchen was awful.  The baby carrots were sobbing, the baby tomato was poking the apple bird’s severed head with a toothpick, the cookie mobster (code name: Salacious Crumb) was falling apart with laughter, the cucumber was contemplating the life choices that had brought him and his three adopted offspring to the park this evening, and the apple bird died a beautiful yet tragic death.

You know what? The googly-eyes kind of do make it easier to look at, don’t they? Interesting…

After that, it was a bit difficult to finish my An Art.  But I peeled away the bad thoughts and found the seeds of inspiration again.  I dug to the core of my artistic abilities, and pared off my insecurities.  I plucked the fruit of inspiration off the orchard-dwelling tree of…. you know what?  I’m going to stop there.  I’m getting off track again.

Back to the murder scene.

Everyone was trying to figure out who did it.  Was it truly the cookie mobster (code name: Salacious Crumb)?  Was he really so careless as to leave a literal trail of evidence?  Or was it the cucumber in an effort to keep his kids from begging to go to the park during a critical hockey match ever again?  Could it have even been the baby tomato, with his gleeful expression at the apple bird’s demise?

The world may never know.

In any case, I wonder what kind of food will be at the next Art Club?

Oh, and I did finish my An Art.  Wanna see?

Truly, this is An Art. Or rather, truly, those resemble trees. If you squint a bit. And turn your head to the left. And look at it in the right light. See? Told you they were trees.

Art Club, and its Related Realizations

24 May

Now this is the law of the jungle

As old and as true as the sky

The wolf that shall keep it may prosper

But the wolf that shall break it must die

As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk

The law runneth forward and back

For the strength of the pack is the wolf

And the strength of the wolf is the pack.

                                                                                                                             -Rudyard Kipling

Last night was Art Club.  I really like Art Club- even though I can barely hold a paintbrush.  My talent lies with the written word, not with tubes of paint.  The good news is that Art Club doesn’t care.  They let me come anyway, and I get to spend hours in a real artist’s studio, just doodling or staring off into space.  It’s also a very low pressure social situation, and it’s helping me make new friends out in the real world.  Plus, last night they had gluten-free yogurt covered pretzels.  So really, Art Club is a win all around.

But not always.

At Art Club two weeks ago, I felt like an imposter.  Everyone else painted beautiful pictures, made mixed media collages, or hodge-podged papers, while I sat and stared at a blank canvas or fought with a temperamental vintage typewriter.  I had found a scrap of wallpaper that looked like a cross between animal skin and tree bark, and typed a poem onto it.  I’d also found a rectangular piece of canvas-covered wood.  I figured the paper and the canvas would look good together, but I couldn’t figure out how.  I spent most of the evening isolated from the others, growing more and more frustrated with myself.

I ended up leaving that night with a blank piece of canvas and my scrap of wallpaper.

But last night was different.  As I drove to the studio, I had a minor epiphany (yeah, I know.  I’m prone to epiphanies.  Bear with me here).  I realized that the reason I am so bad at art was because I am so good at forcing perfection.  I can’t let myself go, because I might make a mistake and ruin a canvas, or use too much glue, or spill blue paint on the studio’s fluffy white muppet of a dog.  But art isn’t about perfection- the exact opposite, actually. (Except painting the dog- that’s always frowned on).

So, being the well-trained social scientist that I am, I decided to conduct an experiment.  I would make myself draw, with  well-defined pencil strokes, something on my canvas that night.  I would have to add color, I would have to figure out a use for the wallpaper and the poem, and I would have to leave with a finished art-type product.  Those were the rules.

I kind of hate myself sometimes.

I sat down at the table in the studio and I picked up a pair of scissors.  I cut apart the words of the poem into phrases and single words.  I replaced the misspelled words with proper spellings, and laid the poem out on my canvas.  Then I picked up my phone and consulted Google Images for a picture of a jungle tree.

Then I made myself start drawing.

It kind of, sort of, looked like a tree.  With winding roots.  Almost.

The artist who runs Art Club came up to me at one point and asked what I was working on.  I meekly explained that I was creating a background for my poem, and she asked what poem I had chosen.

It’s from The Jungle Book, I said.

Oh?  The artist asked.

Yep,  I said.  AND THEN I STARTED SAYING IT.

OUT LOUD.

AMONG PEOPLE.

You guys- I haven’t quoted poetry to anyone since I was 8 years old and it was a school requirement to pass 3rd grade.

Then an even weirder thing happened.

As I said the words of the poem, a new meaning sprang into my mind.  The pack cannot exist without the wolf, but the wolf is nothing without its pack.  It may be the law of the jungle, but it’s also the law of life.  My family wouldn’t be my family without me (they’d be someone else’s family).  I also wouldn’t be anybody without my family (because they’re the only ones who tolerate my crazy).  The same is true for my friends.  They’re my pack, and without them, I’m not much.

It was big moment for someone who generally avoids being out among people.  (I told you I was prone to epiphanies).

It doesn’t actually change anything, since it didn’t make me suddenly willing to go out every night, but it did bring a deeper and more personal meaning to a poem I’ve loved for many years.  It also inspired this blog post.

Oh, and my experiment was a success.  I made an art-type product.

An art-type product? Definitely. Anything else? No, probably not. But still cool to me.

And it’s now hanging on my bedroom wall, right across from my autographed picture of Tom Felton.

Penny-Sized Penny Stories (And A Commentary on A Facebook Comment)

10 May

The best theme for today’s Penny Story is “miscellaneous.”   Rather than a cohesive (or as usually the case for me, a mostly cohesive) blog post, I’ve got several small money-related stories.  Penny penny stories, if you will.

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1. Art Club

At art club last night (Yes, I am in an art club.  No, this does not mean I can draw. I live in fear that the club will discover this and kick me out), I asked if anyone had a cool story about a penny.  I got this one:

“When my sister and I were kids, she told me that if we put pennies under our pillows, they’d multiply.  Being young, I believed her.  I would count out some pennies, put them under my pillow, say the magic words with her, and then recount the pennies.  There would always be more pennies afterwards than there were before.  This might have been because I was too young to count properly, or because my sister was sneaking extra pennies into the pile, but it was still pretty cool to me.”

You’ve got to love older sisters and their tales of magic.  I’m pretty sure I terrorized both of my younger sisters with fake magical powers when we were younger.  For some reason, they both still like me.  Go figure.

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2. Art Club Part II

Also at art club last night, someone else mentioned that they knew a person who would sweep up pennies on the floor and then throw them away.  Yes, you read that right- they would THROW AWAY THE PENNIES.  Like they were made of dust rather than precious copper and zinc.  I’m proud to say all the club members paused at that statement.  These people get it- pennies matter.

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3. The Best Facebook Response By A Student Loan Company

Let me start by saying that I do enjoy working with my undergrad student loan company.  They are polite, helpful and supportive every time that I call.  This might be because I’m actually sending them money each month rather than just calling to complain, but that’s beside the point.  The point is, I got an email from them the other day, telling me that if I liked their page on Facebook, I could be entered to win either an iPad or a Macbook.  I already have an iPad and I don’t really care for Macs (chill out hipsters- Macs don’t care for me either.  Long story), but I figured it was worth it to see what kind of stuff the company had on their FB page.

It turns out they answer questions and respond to every comment on their FB page, usually within minutes.  That’s pretty impressive, and shows that the company is living up to their claim that they’re open 24/7.  So, not being one to miss an opportunity to plug my own blog, I posted a comment.  This is what happened.

There’s so much brilliance here, I can’t even handle it.

I wasn’t completely sucking up.  Like I said earlier, Nelnet is much nicer than my graduate student loan company.  That’s mainly because my grad student loan company can’t be bothered to answer their phone or check their fax machine.  Once I finally do reach a human, they’ve been invariably polite and helpful.  It’s just a lot of work to get to that point.

But let’s refocus on this reply, particularly the “we wish we could keep you forever!” line.  They wish they could keep me forever?!  What is that supposed to mean?  The way I see it, there are two options:

  1. “We wish we could keep you forever!” = “We love having you send us money each month! Thanks for being a great customer!”
  2. “We wish we could keep you forever!” = “Legally, we can’t keep charging you interest forever, but boy do we wish we could!”
One is nice and polite, the other is a bit more sinister.  I’m not sure which I’d prefer: a company that sucks up to me as much as I suck up to them, or a company that never misses an opportunity for truth in advertising.  When I saw that line, I figured that either Adam here is a master of double-meanings, or he read Monday’s entry about why I overthink everything and thought it would be funny to mess with me.  Either way, well played Adam.  Well played.
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That one line by itself would have been good enough, but Adam chose to follow it up with “let us know if there is anything we can help you with.”  At this point, I realized that he probably didn’t click the link and read my blog.  I think I’ve made it pretty clear here exactly with what I could use help.  In case I haven’t, allow me to make a short list:
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  1. A full-time job, preferably one with a yearly salary well into the 5 digits.
  2. A check (or two, or three.  I’m not picky) for $8,851.13, made out to either me or the loan company, and preferably drawn on a real bank account.
  3. For people to see that paying off debt doesn’t have to be such a scary thing- and that sometimes doing it publicly can be a lot of fun.

In Adam’s defense, he’s got a lot on his plate: FB comments to moderate, clever double-entrees to craft, and since he’s likely a social media intern, probably his own student loans to worry about.  He can’t be bothered to click on every link that someone posts on the FB page that he’s been assigned to monitor.  But his response to my post, whether intentionally clever or not, made my day and provided the inspiration for this entry.  So, really, a double win.

Not a bad start to a Thursday.

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As always, if you have a story involving a penny, a person named penny, a phrase using the word penny, or just a cool story that you can tell in under 500 words (unless you’re me, and take over 1,000 words to get to the point), drop me a line and let me know.   Comments are below, and the email address is on the About Me page.  Or the About The Blog page.  Or the About Penny Stories page.  I can’t remember.  Sorry.

Things Video Game Store Customers Say

26 Apr

I love hearing about the questions that customers ask bookstore employees, especially ones like “I read a book when I was 8, and it has a blue cover with a flower.  Do you have that book in stock?”  You know, the kind of questions that the phrase *headdesk* was invented for.  Sadly, I have found that this phenomenon is not limited to bookstores.

I’ve been working in a video game store for about 10 months now, and over that time I have heard/witnessed some awe-inspiring displays of… shall we say, less-than-intelligent behavior from my customers.  Today, I’d like to share some of my favorites with you. (In order to stay with the Penny Story Thursday theme, we’re going to consider these One Cent Comments.)

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1. What a Charming Child.

Me: Welcome to [store name redacted].  How can I help you today?

Customer: We’re looking for Wii games.

Me: OK, they’re over here.  Any particular game in mind?

Customer: Well, what do you recommend for a boy my son’s age?

Me: Mario is always a best-seller, and there’s a new Mario Galaxy game out now.

Customer’s son (a charming boy about 9): Mario is a f****** f*****.

Me: *speechless*

Customer: So what else do you recommend?

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2. I’m Not Tech Support.

Me: *answers phone* Thank you for calling [store name].  How can I help you?

Customer: Yeah, I’m trying to set up my Xbox, and it says there’s not enough… Ns?

Me: That’s a network overload issue.  Are you on wireless?

Customer: Yeah.

Me: Ok, try resetting the router.  That might fix it.

Customer: The router?  I don’t think one of those came with the room.

Me: Oh… um, are you at a hotel?

Customer: Yeah.

Me: Ok, then you’ll have to call the front desk for help, sir.

Customer: I can’t do that.  They don’t know I’m here.

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3. Silly Rabbit, Girls Don’t Play Video Games.

Me: *answers phone* Thanks for calling [store name].  How can I help you?

Customer: Yeah, can I speak to someone about Call of Duty: Black Ops?

Me: Are you looking for a price on the game?

Customer: No, I need some help.  Is there someone there who has played the game?

Me: I have played the game.

Customer: *long pause* But, you’re a girl, right?

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4. Bad Connection.

Me: *answers phone* Thanks for calling [store name]. How can I help you? (You’d think I’d learn to stop answering the phone.)

Customer: Yeah, I was trying to see how much you’d give me for my DS Lite?

Me: Ok, we have to see the system in person before we can give a quote.

Customer: Yeah, but how much is it worth?

Me: That depends a lot on the condition of the system. We have to make sure it turns on, loads games, doesn’t have scratches, that sort of thing.

Customer: Yeah, I want cash for it.  How much?

Me: Well, you have to be over 18 to get cash, and we still would have to see the system in person before I could give you a value.

Customer: I’ll send my momma. (No joke- the kid said “momma”.)  Ok, how much would you give me for Call of Duty?

Me: I’d have to see the game in person too.  Trade-in values are all about the condition of the game or the system.

Customer: Have you heard of the game?

Me: *patience wearing very thin* Yes, I have heard of Call of Duty.

Customer: Ok, how much for it then?

Me: I. Have. To. See. The. Game. First.

Customer: Ok, fine. I’ll call back later and talk to someone else.

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5. Burning Down The House.

Me: *Answers phone* (we all know where this is going.)

Customer: Yeah, I just bought a Wii game there and it doesn’t work.

Me: I’m sorry to hear that.  If you bring it back with your receipt, we’ll be glad to replace it.

Customer: Here’s the thing.  I’ve bought pre-owned games from you in the past, and they never work.

Me: I’m very sorry to hear that.

Customer: *cuts me off* Yeah.  So, I’m going to bring this game back and you’re going to replace it.  And if I get home and it doesn’t work, I’m going to burn your house down.

Me: *hangs up, turns to manager* I’m going to go take my break now, ok?

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6. In Which I Finally Get To Use A Sweet Home Alabama Line.

Customer: *storms in, slams game on the counter*  I bought this here last Saturday and it doesn’t work.

Me: I’m sorry to hear that.  I can replace it for you.  Do you have your receipt?

Customer: *stares coldly* No.

Me: That’s ok.  Do you have a membership card with us?

Customer: *still seething* No.

Me: Oh.  Well, I can’t return the game without a receipt or a membership card.  Would you like to tra-

Customer: *slams hands on counter and leans into my face* Are you s****** me?

Me: You know, I’ve never understood that phrase, but no, I am not s****** you.

Customer: *grabs game, storms out of store*  I’m never coming back here again!

My manager: We’re going to really miss having him around.

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7. Just Pull A Bit Harder.

Customer (note- a fully-grown man): *walks up to counter, hands me a Wii remote box, still hanging on the magnetic locked display rack.*

Me: Um, what happened?

Customer: *shrugs* I couldn’t get it off the rack.

Me: *glances across the store at the new large hole in the wall* Oh, ok.  *Grabs magnet, unlocks rack*

Customer: Oh, so that’s how those work.

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8. The Kinect Is Not For Everyone.

Customer: Can I get the controller for the Xbox?  I have my Driver’s License. (An ID is required for getting the display controller.)

Me: Oh, we have the Kinect on today.  You don’t need the controller.

Customer: No, but I want to play the golf game you have on today.

Me: Yes, it’s a Kinect game.  You just stand in front of the TV and swing like you really had a golf club in your hands.

Customer: *look of deep distrust*  Can I just get the controller, please?

Me: I promise you, you don’t need the controller.  Just stand on the mat in front of the TV and wave your hand.

Customer: *stares*  Whatever. *walks away*

Me: I swear, I’m not messing with you!

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9. We’re Not Babysitters.

Customer: *opens door, shoves child inside*  Stay here.  I’ll be back in an hour. *leaves*

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10.  We’re Still Not Babysitters, Unless You’re Willing To Pay.

Customer: *opens door, shoves child inside.  Looks around and spies employees at the counter*  Hello!  I’m just going to be a few doors down, ok?  I’ll be back in twenty minutes!

Coworker: That’s fine.  Childcare is $20 an hour.

Customer: *stern look at child* Don’t you break nothing while I’m gone. *leaves*

(Sadly, the child immediately went after his mom, and my coworker and I never got our $20.)

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Finally we have my all-time favorite customer interaction.   It’s been implied so many times before, but last week I finally had a customer come right out and say it.

11. You’ll End Up Like Those People

Child: *brings his mother two video games*

Child’s mother: No, you get one.

Child: But I just traded in one game.

Mother: Yes, and you’re only allowed to have two video games at a time.

Child: C’mon, mom, please?

Mother: No!  Too many video games will rot your brain, and you’ll end up working here like those people. *points to me and my coworker.*

Me: *represses urge to smack her with my Master’s degree*  (also, I should add that half the store has Master’s degrees, and the rest are either in college or hold Bachelor’s degrees.  We’re also all gainfully employed.   I can totally understand why someone wouldn’t want their child to end up like us.)

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And there you have it.  That is the kind of stuff I deal with for six to eight hours, two to three times a week.  Don’t get me wrong- I do really enjoy my job.  I get paid to talk about video games, and it gets me out of the house and among people two to three times a week.  But sometimes, I just have to wonder if common sense is really so common after all.

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For those of you who have shared the horror of working in retail, what are your favorite customer interactions?  Leave me a comment and we can commiserate together.  Also, if enough people like this post, next week I’ll tell you about the time I worked at a skating ring and a customer threatened me with a knife over the price of a Slushie.

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