Can I just rant for a minute about something you don't care about? Something so inconsequential that even mentioning it makes me a narcissist?
Good. Debit cards.
I like my debit card. I'm well aware that the One-World Government conspiracy (OWGC) and the Guild of Identity Thieves are plotting even now how to use my PIN number to violate me in ways I can't imagine, so don't bother lecturing me. I'm talking about something much more annoying than that.
I have a debit card for convenience. You know what's not convenient? The various clerks and counter help all over central Illinois who believe fervently that if the nifty hologram wears off, the card ceases to work--unless they perform dark voodoo rituals.
I'm standing there, assuring them that I've used the thing at three stores today and it works, but they just can't believe it. "This thing's about had it, huh?" they say, grinning their slack, insincere grins.
"Guess so." I answer. What I want to say is "The crazy part is that if I bludgeoned you to death with one of these four-pound Snickers bars here, they'd put me in jail."
Have you seen the Dance of the Debit Card? The High Clerk (or Clerkess) takes your card, holds it up to the light, flicks it with his thumb a few times, and makes various concerned noises. Then he puts the card gingerly into the center of the "swipe channel" on the register. Since the card reader is designed to work when the card is swiped briskly through it, this does not work. It is followed by swiping the card through slowly, then more slowly. Then the card is placed in the reader and allowed to sit for a few moments. Then it's swiped wrong-side out (just in case.) If you (and the fine people waiting in line behind you) are very lucky, you may now be treated to the rarest spectacle I've been privileged to witness: the Shopping Bag Gambit. This is when the clerk pulls the out the big guns; he will actually pull a shopping bag out and wrap it around the card. The great thing about this is that it requires repeating the entire dance from start to finish. The only thing that is always the same regardless of which clerk is doing the Dance of the Debit Card is the finale, in which the clerk completely gives up and keys in the number by hand.
Last night a lovely young woman drove me so nuts with this routine that I actually turned around and took $20 out of the ATM with the card just to show her how easy it is. My secret is holding the card in my right hand and swiping it across the card reader. There's a picture diagram of my secret printed on most card readers.
"Magic!" I called to her, waving my debit card and my $20 bill.
For all I know, she thinks that's exactly what happened.
I have not mentioned, because I cannot fathom, the gentleman tending the counter at a Casey's station a few towns over who, while wrapping my card in a shopping bag, informed me that the cards with little ducks in the hologram actually damage their computer system.
"These birds peck us to death, man." he told me. "I don't know what it is, but you run one of these cards with the birds, the whole thing messes up. Payments don't go through, it even shuts down the pumps out there sometimes. Whole pump just dies. It's crazy!"
Yes, I think. Yes, it certainly is that.
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