499 – You Can’t Go Back: 06


Top Web Comics restarts it’s voting every month, so we’re beginning again from zero today. But that means that we made it to number 59 last month with only TWO WEEKS of voting! I’d be willing to bet we could do even better this month, with YOUR help! When you vote for HOLE every day, you bring new readers to the comic, which will help me make a living! Thanks a million, guys!

I know I have told similar stories to this in the past, but it just keeps happening… and they are too funny not to share.

So Lena and I are at the mall… (I know, I know) blowing some time before the new Star Trek movie starts. We’re just wandering around seeing what’s there, when she decides to go into the AT&T store to see if they have any good iPhone cases, as the one she had never fit quite right. We go in and start looking around around and are quickly approached by a helpful young man we are going to call Landrew. Nice kid, good handshake.

Landrew guided Lena away from the case she had in her hands and towards a nicer hard-shell case with a sort of satin-like grippy feel too it that came in some intensely subtle shades Lena just loved. The price was $30, which fell neatly into that pocket of price comprised of “there is no way in hell I would ever buy this for myself…” and “Oh you want this, Baby? Okay… let me pay for that for you…”

As we walked over to the desk, (at an AT&T store, you can’t pay a nickel for a stick of gum without sitting down at the desk and making an interview out of it) Lena was joking about having been searching for an iPhone case she liked for six months and being unable to accomplish even this one simple task. Landrew made the observation that the smartest people had the most problems with the simplest things.

Me: The stupidest people have that same problem.

Landrew: What?

Me: I was just agreeing with you.

Landrew: Oh. Right! Like geniuses can’t tie their shoes and stuff.

Me: Yeah. Geniuses with brain damage.

Landrew: Hunh? No… I meant…

Lena: Relax, he’s just playing with you. You’ve already made the sale.

Landrew: I’m not a salesman. I’m a helper.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but either Landrew had a severe short-term memory problem, or he thought that we did, because he repeated the phrase, “I’m not a salesman. I’m a helper.” at least eight more times during the course of our four-minute conversation with him. I couldn’t keep myself from associating him with Santa’s elves, but he seemed proud of it… so good for him I guess.

I wanted to pay with a credit card which was all okay, until he asked for my drivers license. He picked it up and told me he was about to make a photocopy of it for their records, because I had asked to pay by credit card. I put the breaks on and told him no way.

Now many people have the mistaken impression that it’s illegal to make a photocopy of a drivers license. It’s not. (Unless you live in Virginia and a handful of other hyper-vigilant states.) It’s illegal to use one for identification, and it’s illegal for a company with a copy of your drivers license to use any of the information on that copy. Mostly however it is a security risk worth being aware of to hand your drivers license number, home address, date of birth, and name over on one sheet of paper that can be accessed by anyone who works or will ever work at any given location. I can be accused of being paranoid here, and if so, I am perfectly happy to live with that appellation. But I don’t know Landrew, I don’t know the other salesmen… helpers… working at that store, and I certainly won’t be responsible for the trustworthiness of anyone they might hire in the future.

As politely as I could, after all it was AT&T and not Landrew who created this policy, I informed him that making the copy was not cool with me, and I asked where the nearest ATM was. He told me that if it would make me feel better he would draw through my license number with a marker. I pointed to the “copier” and told him that the scanner connected to his computer made an electronic copy on his hard drive that I was not prepared to be responsible for and where was the nearest ATM? He replied that he didn’t know about any electronic copies, and the computer must automatically delete everything, after all he was not a salesman but a helper. Reading my expression, Lena provided that the nearest ATM was probably the one behind the food court. I left for cash.

This next bit was provided to me by Lena after we finally left the store with her new iPhone case. After I walked off in search of the ATM, Landrew sat quietly watching me go. Finally he turned to Lena and asked in a quiet voice, “Is he some kind of viking or something?”

Lena looked at him a beat, and then replied in measured tones, “No, he’s a webcomic artist.”

“Aah… right.” Landrew said in response. As if, lacking actual vikinghood, webcomic artist explained everything. I think this exchange was really weird, and I have nothing really to offer by way of elucidation as to it’s nature. No one has ever asked if I was a viking before, I kinda thought they were all pretty much… dead. I don’t look like a viking, and as far as I know, I don’t act or talk like one either.

The ATM was out, so I had to go through another round of “I’m not going to steal your information… I’m a helper!” before I could find the location of the next nearest ATM. I did though, and got my cash and made my transaction. As I put my card away I started laughing, and Lena asked me what was funny. I opened my wallet to her, and showed her the fifty dollars that I had had in there the entire time.

Chuckling, I shook Landrew’s hand once more, and Lena and I went to the movies.

(On a sort of related note, Lena and I went last night to see Disney’s Up. Now everyone seems to really love this flick… except for the two of us. It was sad and funny, but for us the misery outweighed the happy, and when we left the misery was all we could remember. Both of us ended up wishing we had not seen that movie. I think most of the sad would fly right over the heads of children, or single folks, or people who hate their spouses and can’t wait for them to die… but for us it was not an uplifting film.

I just kinda wish someone had warned me. We could have watched something else and left happy.)

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21 Responses to 499 – You Can’t Go Back: 06

  1. Ha Ha. Great Story there. So would it be better to be thought a viking than a webcomic artist? One can only wonder. Traveling this weekend I encountered lots of people who are “helpers” after all they are in the service industry – bell hops – flight attendants – customer service counter reps and for the most part they were happy to “help”. Fortunately no one asked to “scan” my id – but I did see on the plane a wallet that protects you from RFID?

    So now they don’t need to scan with a digital scanner – they can pickpocket me digitally? I’ll have to research that more – but that seems like some crazy marketing “ploy.” Have you heard anything like that before? :mrgreen:

    • RFID (radio-frequency identification ) is when they put those little electronic tags into books or clothes or cartons of cigarettes or the boxes of MP3 players, or pretty much anything else that you don’t want stolen, that sets off an alarm when you leave the store without running them over the deactivation thingie at the register.


      The RFID tags are being used in passports, metro cards, by businesses wanting to track their employees, at least one dance club in Barcelona that implants VIP customers and allows them to pay with credit stored on the tag, as animal ID implants, (the FDA has approved their use on humans as well) sporting tickets, security ID badges, and an ever increasing number of other uses, not all of which are revealed to the public when they are handed out. (The tags are very small and are generally unobtrusive.)

      There has been much contention over whether these are a good thing or not. I suspect that the debate will likely continue until some bad guy is found with a scanner and a rifle… which may never happen. But the potential for abuse is ginormous, and this is probably something worth keeping an eye on.

      A wallet that protects you from RFID would only shield any RFID tags that you had in your wallet from being scanned by someone with the proper equipment — which is not that difficult to come across. You’re not in any danger of being pickpocketed… yet… though ID theft is a very real concern.

      • While not quite the same technology, I’m sure I’m not the only one who is reminded of the film Minority Report where Tom Cruise is being bombarded with ads specifically targeted for his eye donor?

  2. Ooooo. Can *I* be a Viking?

    I bet you also have fun messing with salespeo…err helpers that call you on the phone? I do, but my wife rolls her eyes when I do. My favorite is to tell them that I was having sex with my wife and that they need to hurry while she’s still in the mood. Of course, I haven’t yet convinced her to make “finishing” sounds so that I can tell them “Nevermind, she went with out me.” and start telling them how much they suck. It would be much more fun if she’d play along on those calls.

    Maybe the next call, I’ll keep interjecting that phrase into the conversation: I’m a Viking.

    • Very funny idea to get the telephone solicitors off the phone. LOL.

      I have done many things to amuse myself and to upset the telephone solicitors. Sometimes I just tell them I don’t have what they are selling.

      Call from Bellsouth once: “Sorry. I don’t have a phone. This is my neighbors phone. I’m borrowing it.”
      Once, a window salesman: “Sorry. I don’t have windows. We have one of those new modern houses without windows”

      Other times I just do stuff like hold my tongue while I talk so they can’t understand me.

      • Stories of how people like to mess with telemarketers always amuses me, but I have never been able to make myself do it. I guess it’s because I worked as a telemarketer once when I was desperate for cash (I lasted 4 whole days!), so I tend to have some sympathy for how crappy their job is.

        • Look at it this way, Ron. As a telemarketer, you get paid to be on the phone…..I’m sure there are bonuses and such for “sales”…..but you get paid the same for a No as you do for a more entertaining No. At least this way, it breaks up the monotony of “No” “No” “No” “No” “” “No” etc.

          • Actually, that’s not true. Results are expected – if you fail to meet quota, you’re let go like I was. And the time it takes to listen to that “entertaining no” is time that wasn’t spent on making another call trying to get a “yes.”

  3. Oh, and speaking of Star Trek, what did you think?

    Overall, I guess it was a fun sci-fi/action film, but I found several plot holes big enough to fly a Galaxy class starship through. In the end, I feel they dumbed down Trek to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

    • I felt almost exactly the same. Very entertaining, as long as you didn’t look too close. I was able to choose not to look though, and enjoy the film.

      • I hear ya, and usually I can do the same thing. But this was Star Trek, so I didn’t think I would need to wear my blinders.

    • I liked the movie, overall, at least it was way more entertaining than the last couple movies and that dreadful Enterprise series, although it doesnt hold up to movies like The Wrath of Khan. But yes, the plot was…. shaky, not to mention that the scriptwriters obviously thought that “physics = magic” (“red matter”?), that a supernova can destroy a galaxy, or that you can see a planet (Vulcan) from another planet (the ice moon) in a neighboring system. And I could have done without the slapstick. But then, many other people have over the years criticized that Star Trek took itself too seriously, so…

      Well, if my husband, who is an high voltage electro-engineer, can ignore all the weird physics, guess so can I.

      But overall, I was pleasantly surprised. The story may have been full of whacky space hijinks, but I think they captured the characters and Star Trek atmosphere very well. Lots of nice character moments. It’s uncanny how much Zachary Quinto looked like a young Nimoy, he was well cast. For the first time in a long time, I felt there was a sense of wonder about going out into space again, a sense of how Star Fleet is this elite[*] and yet egalitarian organization that everyone wants to join. Finally, Star Fleet is a meritocracy again, and Earth a place where humans and aliens can rubs elbows without racial prejudices.

      ([*]Please no that “elite” and similar terms do not have the bad connotation in Germany that they apparently have for many US Americans, to judge by how many right-wing conservatives love the urban legend about “snobby East Coast elitist liberals”. Of course, I am talking about academic achievements, not the self-proclaimed neocon elite the likes of The Project For A New American Century.)

      I can live with the diverging timeline thing, because really what was the alternative? Without pulling this stunt the writers and producers would have been stuck re-doing all the old stories, which would have sucked because it would have felt like a lame copycat move. There can be only one Wrath of Khan. But I hope they know where they want to go next with these prequels. As long as they don’t bring in the Borg again. Here’s hoping.

    • Well, I don’t liked it. Not because it was a so bad movie, but because I cas expecting something else. To me, Star Trek is a lot about tackling social, morale, and character issues. I found these lacking. This was… well, this was a star trek movie (Don’t get me wrong, I like star trek, but, IMO, there’s a very different feeling between the 2 things), with a lot of action, space fights, space monsters, single-use aliens (Ok, this is a thing I don’t like in SW) and blaster fights, and these can be fun. But it seemed to there was almost no discussion or try to talk the other out of it or character dilemna or questionment. How to say it? Good movie, bad star trek.

  4. I’M a viking, and it’s a very exclusive club. Let me tell you: It gets you respect all the time. In addition, it makes you run faster, jump higher, and appear more attractive to the opposite sex. (Note: these perceptions may or may not be entirely delusional) So, Kevin, when the “helper” asked if you were a viking, he was paying you a high compliment.

  5. Re: RFID protecting wallets
    The reason for the RFID protecting wallets is that some companies are making their credit cards with the RFID chips in them now, so that if you’re in a store that is set up for it, you can pay without ever having to pull it out of your wallet. Talk about potential for abuse… On the other hand, there are those who like the idea, and I have to admit, it has its pros and its cons. Con side: MASSIVE security hole. Pro side: extremely convenient. And after all, the potential for abuse isn’t necessarily a good reason not to implement an idea; we implemented telephones, cellphones, and the internet, despite their potential to be abused, remember.

  6. heh. Just be careful not to accidentally pass your wallet over the thing that fries the security RFID chips in products.

    (you have to be careful of that anyway, but still)

  7. > I just kinda wish someone had warned me. We could have watched something else and left happy.)

    Then don’t watch Knowing with Nicholas Cage at the movies. It’s a good movie, but I left unhappy that I paid full movie price for it. You will understand when you see it.

  8. Kevin … love it. I am not sure if this is really a webcomic blog or a public service announcement 🙂

    I can’t comment on what the actual laws are without some legal disclaimer, blah blah blah. So I’ll have to leave it at THANKS for the entertainment value.