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  1.  (10019.21)
    Wow. Some great stories here. I was planning on telling you all about the time I was "mugged?" but I'm slammed at work so don't have time.

    SCS's story reminded me of something similar that happened to me and it's a quickie. I was on a flight from New Orleans to Atlanta and then on from Atlanta to LA on a red eye. We got to Atlanta and were told the flight is canceled because the president needed to use the airport or some such. They were going to help us find a place to stay and book us on flights in the morning.

    I decided I'd hang back. It's not like I was in any rush to get anywhere. In line I chatted up those around me and generally tried to make the best of it. In situations like that, it's easy to make friends. By the time I got to the counter, the poor guy who was helping me had been taking abuse for over an hour. I was all smiles and "hey, this shit happens." I asked if there was anything he could do to make up for the inconvenience. He said no there wasn't. I laughed and said "I figured there isn't, but it's worth a shot right?" He gave me my discount voucher for the hotel and ticket for my flight the next morning. I thanked him and wished him a good night. As I was turning away he called me back and asked to see my ticket again. "Sure, no problem." "You wanted an isle seat," he asked while tearing up my ticket. "Yeah, but really it's not that big a deal." "I just realized we have one here." He printed me out a new ticket, which he handed to me with a smile and a "sorry about the confusion." "No worries." I looked down to see he moved me to the second row! Yep, first class. The next morning I said "hi" to my new friends from the night before as they trundled by to their seats while I sat sipping a mimosa.
    • CommentTimeJul 12th 2011
    Heh interesting stories.

    I can relate to @RazrAngel. Being a major geek when I was teen, still a geek now I guess, I was a fan, stupidly, of Star Trek Voyager and one day Robert Beltran, Chakotay the dude with the face tattoo came to the Forbidden Planet store in Manchester several years ago. I was in school and determined to go. So... I bunked the afternoon off "DENTIST" I cried. Well bullshit obviously. Headed down to Manchester on my little lonesome and after an hour in the queue, I got to meet him. And clammed up. Just... utterly awestruck. Didnt say a goddamned word. Just looked like a lemon as I grinned like a bloody idiot and handed him some merchandise to sign and then wandered off in a daze.

    But I fared better on my next celebrity! This time meeting James Marsters, Spike from Buffy. Was in a queue to get my stuff signed and just before me was this blonde lass in jeans. She got her stuff signed and such, then I went up to his table next. Before I even got a word out, he asked me, "Is that your girlfriend?" Referring to the girl that just left. I said no and then we both looked at her as she walked away and well.. she was gorgeous. And he thought so, "She's pretty hot." Both of us leching after her arse.

    Good times.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeJul 12th 2011 edited
    Jeeze. I've led a boring life. I mean, really. Too damn cautious for my own good.

    An Example:

    June, 1989. I'm a sales trainer for a low-end bottom-feeder home computer company. I fly all over the country, rent a car, drive to appliance stores and train the sales people how to sell home computers. (In 1989, this was not easy.)

    I find myself in Oklahoma. First time anywhere near that part of the country. Because there are so many Silo appliance stores in (Tulsa? Oklahoma City?) the managers decide to have a group meeting at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Holi-Dome. I get in the evening before. I'm bored and lonely, and don't have a car. I wander around the Holi-Dome, an enclosed courtyard with a pool, arcade area, shuffleboard, a little putting green, and other intense delights.

    The brochure suggests it might be a nice place for a honeymoon. This makes me feel incredibly sad.

    I eventually return to my room, and poke around. I notice, under the restroom sink, a hatch. I open it up, and dang, there's a secret passage behind there! Extending off to the distance in front of me, and to the right, is the space between walls, lined with pipes. I can see the back end of other hatches leading to other rooms. I'd never seen anything like that.

    Even better: Balanced on the sill of the little hatch are two bottles of wine. Full. Unopened. Cheap, with screw-top bottles.

    I briefly consider crawling through the passage, making poltergeist noises and leaving gifts of cheap wine in random hotel rooms.

    Sigh. Like I said, I'm really cautious. I closed the little hatch, leaving the opportunity for drunken adventures behind the walls to someone else. Maybe a honeymooning couple from East Bullgelder.

    The next day, as I cleaned up the meeting room where I held the training, I found the placed being invaded by the International Order of the Daughters of Job. But that is a story for another day.
      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeJul 12th 2011
    I once made a film based around a hoary old joke - A crazy guy goes to a head-shrinker, wearing only a cellophane diaper. Says "Doc, tell me straight. The CIA are putting extra cholesterol in my pork'n'beans, that dog is talking to me mentally, Frank Gifford steals my trash, Jason Bateman is living in my wood-pile. Tell me, doc. Do you think I'm crazy?" The doctor looks at him, in his see-through underwear and says "I can clearly see (you're/your) nuts."

    So I walked all over town, on a day that was about 100 degrees F, wrapped in Saran Wrap, until the film was finished. This took more than eight hours.

    I've looked for it online but to no avail. So yeah, I'm pretty much naked, wrapped in cellophane, walking down the high street.

    • CommentTimeJul 12th 2011 edited
    Steve at Meijers
    A post-employment tale of life in the retail wars
    Revenge of the Clerk

    I spent far too many years working in retail, mostly as a clerk in various grocery stores. That experience left me with two habits. First, always be nice the the clerk (see my previous story). Second, never stand in line and wait while someone else bags your groceries.

    One Sunday I went shopping at a Meijer's store in the Ann Arbor area. Meijers, for those of you who don't have them, is like a Target but without the evil. Back in the 70s they were still paying time-and-a-half on Sundays, but to keep the costs down they never had enough folks working the cash registers.

    That particular day the checkout lines were out the wazoo. I was eight or ten carts back in line, and the poor checker had no sideboy to bag for her. I asked the guy behind me to push my cart so I could go up front and bag for our line, and he agreed.

    Getting to the front required navigating back through the folks in line behind me, walking the width of the checkout aisles, going out the store entrance at station 1, then back down the 39 checkstands to where the helpful stranger was pushing my cart. I pulled out the baggers shelf, opened a sack, and started bagging groceries.

    The checker was kind of surprised. I explained that the more groceries I bagged, the sooner I'd be out of the store. She went along with it.

    Old habits came back fast, and pretty soon I was in back in the swing - one hand in the bag arranging, the other tossing items in to be caught by the first. Clerk mode, speedy and mindless.

    Things worked fine for the first few customers. Then I got the asshole.

    "Don't squash the bread!"

    "That bag is too full!"

    "Double-bag everything!"

    "Too many cans in there!"

    And on, and on, and on. For a while, I was stuck in that heads-down subservient frame of mind and just did what he said. Then it hit me: I don't have to put up with this. I don't even work here. So I reached into his cart, pulled out a full bag, dumped the contents back onto the counter, and tossed the emptied double-bag over my shoulder with -- dare I say it? Yes, I do -- elan.

    Lather, rinse, repeat.

    When the last bag was dumped, I looked at the guy and said "Bag your own damned groceries." Then I walked down the 39 cash registers, went back in the entrance, walked back up the 39 registers, worked my way up to my cart, thanked the guy who'd pushed it, and resumed waiting in line.

    By that time the fellow whose groceries I'd dumped had managed to grab a manager. I couldn't hear what either one of them was saying, but the guy was in full rant and the manager was making soothing noises any time he could get a word in edgewise.

    The checker, on the other hand . . . she was standing at her station, looking forward at the line while the rant and the apologies went on behind her. She was struggling to keep a straight face, but wasn't very successful.

    I watched this for a while, feeling sorry for the manager. Then the guy looked up and saw me. He pointed at me with great enthusiasm, and I could pretty much read his lips: "Him! That's the one!" I gave him a grin and a little wave. Neither did any wonders for his composure. The checker went head-down on the register top. She may have quivered a bit. The manager looked at me in confusion, made a wonderful open-arms and palms-up 'WTF' gesture, and equally clearly said: "He . . . doesn't . . . work . . . here."

    After a while the guy took his abused groceries and left. Eventually I reached the front of the line. The checker said "Thank you. I've always wanted to say that" and shook my hand. She rang up my order, I bagged it.

    I never saw that checker again. She might have decided this was the high point of her career and bagged it. I hope so. I still feel a little sorry for the manager, though.

  2.  (10019.26)
    OK, since no one demanded it... the time I was "mugged?" PART ONE

    This was the summer after I graduated from high school, so '94. I had just developed a Magic the Gathering addiction because I was hell bent on never getting laid. (Comics? Check. Magic? Check. D&D? Check. Self-esteem issues? Check. Come to think of it, how on Earth did I ever end up with a kid?) At that time Magic cards were a rare commodity so my friends and I would call hobby shops in and around Boston and Providence to see if any were in. They'd get a box or two and sell out in a day, so damn it, if they had some we'd have to make a road trip, STAT. It just so happened that after a couple of weeks of no luck, a hobby shop in Providence did, so me, my friend Don, who had a car and everyone else who happened to be at my house hit the road with our collections (for trade fodder) and as much cash as we could scrape together. In my case, that was a little over $100. All told there were five of us in Don's car, including "Willy" (I cleverly changed the first letter of his name so if he ever stumbles across this, he'll have no idea I'm talking about him). Willy was more of a friend of a friend and I always found him a bit annoying. Our mutual friend wasn't there and my memory doesn't explain why he was hanging out with us, but it probably was that I was too nice to tell him to shove off. So anyway, five suburban white kids hit the road.

    We get to Providence and park a few blocks away from the hobby shop. As we walk along, from behind us someone shouts "hey!" I give my backpack a quick squeeze to make sure no cards have fallen out somehow. We're good. Keep walking. It seems everyone in my group is of a similar mind. The person behind us shouts "hey!" again. Willy, stops and turns. "Yes?" I walk on for another ten feet or so and then give a quick look over my shoulder to see him standing there waiting for two black kids to catch up. The rest of my party stop as well.

    A quick aside about where I grew up. It's a messed up armpit of a town. At the time there was the black family. And by that I mean, I remember when they moved in because "hey, there are black people about that don't get bussed in for school and then shipped back to Boston at the end of the day." Also, while there wasn't much racial tension, there was a lot of class based violence. Mostly of the "hey, you're alone and there's several of us, let's kick the shit out of you for a few laughs" kind. That's where I developed my paranoid sense that pretty much everyone is out to get me. So my first thought as I see these two guys about our age but far more urban approaching is "hey, they're probably out to get me." The one in the lead was short, but build like a brick wall and wore a friendly smile. The one behind him wasn't as stocky, wasn't smiling and was wearing a hoodie. While it wasn't the hottest day ever, it was a bit warm for a long sleeve pullover, but really, he wasn't the one planting himself right in the middle of our group.

    Once Willy let these two catch up, the leader asked us if any of us wanted to buy any weed. OK. Now we were on firmer ground. At the time I was straight edge in all but name. Don eventually even took up the title a couple of years later. Willy was too much of a dork to know what to do with drugs and the others didn't smoke pot. Most of the drug dealers (and users) in town were my friends, so at least I now had some common ground with the talker. "No thanks. It's a shame my friend Cory isn't here. I'm sure he'd be totally interested." Did I want to get any for Cory? "Sorry, no." We all began walking again since clearly our business was through. Our new friend stayed in the middle of our pack. His friend hung back a few feet, but kept pace. If we were going to take the planned path to the shop, we were going to be cutting through an alley in less than a block. Yep, I would cut through alleys in broad daylight, with four friends, IN THE CITY. Bad-motherfucking-ass. As we approached the alley, I was having second thoughts about that plan. Our new buddy was asking us if we could give him some money for bus faire. We were all going through a round of "I would man, but I don't have any." He called us on the bullshit of that line. Drug dealers, I could deal with. Moochers, sure. Someone who wasn't willing to take broke for an answer... things were starting to head back into "they're out to get me" territory.

    As we walked along, Don started saying "guys, Buck a book. Guys, Buck a Book." I didn't notice at the time, but the shop right before the alley was a Buck a Book. I had my eyes set on the entrance to the bank which was just on the other side. Banks are good. They have men with guns in them. Those men are significantly less likely to want to kill me than these drug dealers,which come to think of it, are city drug dealers and not someone I've known since the third grade. I let our new not-as-much-of-a-friend-as-he-was-a-minute-ago call my bluff. I admitted I had some change, but that we all came to trade cards at the hobby shop. I held my backpack out as evidence. He was welcome to whatever change I had. I pulled out less than a dollar and handed it to him. I then walked passed the alley.
  3.  (10019.27)
    the time I was "mugged?" PART TWO

    Willy stopped dead in the center of the mouth of the alley and reached into his pocket and pulled out a dollar. "I knew you had money" our now clearly antagonist shouted at him. "How much do you have?"

    "That's all I have," was Willy's less than convincing reply.

    "Don't lie to me." Willy insisted he wasn't and this didn't go over well, so he reached into his pocket, admitting that he did have more, and pulled out another couple of one dollar bills. Our mugger then reached into Willy's pocket for the wallet that he exposed when he pulled out his bills. This lead to a tug of war between the two of them for the wallet. "I'm not going to take your fucking money" he kept screaming up into Willy's face.

    I like to think that my paranoia helps me avoid getting too bogged down into the unimportant details, like the thug accosting the "friend" of mine. It was five against two, and though I'd never raised a fist in anger, it was worth at least assessing. It's at that point I took note of the silent partner. He had stepped back a few paces and looked terrified. Also, he had one hand tucked up the front of his sweatshirt and in the region of his waste. Five against two would have me worried if I were part of the two, but the look on his face was well past that. Besides, I still would have given them even odds. We were either over weight or, in my case, maybe 90 pounds soaking wet. All of us were clearly nerdy kids. I was convinced he had a weapon and was seriously considering what would happen if he used it. The location of his hand said "gun." I've never been shot and it's sort of a personal policy of mine to stay that way. There are things I'd be willing to take a bullet for but Willy sure as hell wasn't one of them. None of my associates seemed want to jump in either.

    At this point, Willy lost the tug of war and decided to give the mugger a shove as his wallet was opened. He was shoved back, and went several steps into the alley. I shouted at him to "just give him your money." The others started agreeing with me. The mugger looked into the wallet and found some $10s and $20s in there. He took those before giving Willy one last shove. The hand he shoved with contained the now empty wallet and the pile of ones that he insisted he wasn't going to take. He let those fall as he and his friend walked away.

    Post Script: I got my Magic cards. Willy was pissed that we didn't come to his aide and sulked the entire ride home. He also exclaimed "when my dad finds out, he's going to kill me." Oh? Why? You're safe, it's just money. "I'm not allowed to go into the city!"

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