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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

How Can You Not Take It? Don’t You Want Protection Against Swarms of Locusts? Are You Mad?!

So, I’ve mentioned a couple of (dozen) times recently that I’ll be delivering my very most firstest official standup comedy set tomorrow night.

(I decided that my grad school oral exams, while apparently just frigging hilarious to my committee, don’t count, so tomorrow night is my first. That’s only fair, I guess — the committee basically decided most of my answers didn’t ‘count’, either. The bastards.)

Anyway, because of the crushing, unbearable pressure much-appreciated enthusiastic queries by Lara about the show, I made a decision today. I made a decision, and I made a purchase.

Yes, folks, I now own a digital camcorder. Hide the women and watermelons, people, I’ve got full image-capture capabilities. Video, still pictures, you name it. Who knows what you might see within these pages in the coming weeks — the mystery meat in the back of the fridge, one of my tres artistic toothpaste sculptures, maybe even the dog in her Little Bo Peep outfit.

(Though you probably won’t see my wife in her Bo Peep getup — I’m not allowed to tape that sort of thing. She gets so shy when it comes to the Mother Goose stuff.)

But the more perspicacious of you will deduce that I really bought the thing to tape my standup sets. I’m hoping to line up some more shows, so I have to know what works, and what doesn’t.

(And more importantly, figure out which people in the audience are throwing rotten fruit and eggs. ‘Cause if I catch them, and I know them, they are so getting their tires slashed, or their lawns pissed on. Or their tires pissed on, whatever’s fastest. I can’t afford to take too much time — I have a feeling I’ll have a lot of houses to get to.)

Anyway, if I can manage to figure out the camera, and the software, and the six hundred peripherals I’ll need to get the show taped and converted to something web-accessible, I’ll post it up for any interested parties to check out. If you like it, you’ve got Lara at 75 Degrees and Raining to thank, for getting my ass in gear to buy a new toy. And if you don’t… well, it’ll be my material, so you should probably blame me.

(But just between us, you can still go take it out on Lara — hey, if I hadn’t bought a camera, you’d have never been able to watch the crap. Go get her!)

Speaking of the camcorder, I’m now convinced — and maybe you guys are way ahead of me on this one — that the employees at Best Buy get a big fat bunch of nothing unless they sell you an extended warranty on something. I’ve been in there three or four times in the past year or so, and it’s always the same damned thing — the little weiner or weinerette starts out all nice and friendly. Downright perky, even. Sure, they often don’t actually know anything, but they try to stay upbeat while they shrug and stutter and shake their heads. They’re like little bobblehead dolls, useless and wobbly and idiot-grinning.

Then, of course, if you decide to actually buy the doodad you’re looking at, the kid goes nuts. Suddenly, this ignorant, clueless customer assistant reveals him- or herself to be an idiot savant, because they know absolutely everything about the extended warranty on the product. Terms, dates, benefits, cost per annum — you name it. In a flash, this pimply-faced boob before you is transformed from drooling, mindless drone to Professor Warranty, spewing forth everything you could ever want to know — and much, much, much more — about the minutae of the various options.

Then, when you do the smart thing and don’t take the warranty, they clam up like a jilted lover, and treat you like a fresh pile of steaming dog flop. Suddenly, you’re beneath contempt, simply because you’re willing to take the risk of a blown tube or a frazzled circuit into your own hands. I swear, I think these people must get paid as a percentage of the warranties they foist onto people. They act like you’re taking food out of their damned mouths when you refuse the coverage, or you’ve just thrown their little brother down a well.

The transformations these people go through are immediate and complete — from slack-jawed idiot to blabbering expert to cold, spiteful enemy. It usually goes something like this:

Customer: Hi, can you help me with picking out a computer monitor?

Employee: Sure! Hey, I’d love to! Woo hoo!

Customer: Great. Would you recommend a CRT monitor or an LCD?

Employee: Uh… well… um, probably the LCD.

Customer: Oh, okay. And why is that?

Employee: Er — they’re bigger?

Customer: Don’t they both come in several sizes?

Employee: Oh. Uh, yeah. It’s brighter?

Customer: Brighter than…?

Employee: Um, the first one you mentioned?

Customer: The CRT, you mean?

Employee: Yeah, the CRD.

Customer: T. CRT.

Employee: Right, I knew that.

Customer: O…kay. Look, how about this monitor here? I saw a good review on this one. What can you tell me about it?

Employee: Well… let’s see — it’s a… 19 inch model. And it’s made by… um, OptiPlex, and…

Customer: Hey, you’re just reading that off the little card by the monitor!

Employee: No, I’m not.

Customer: Yes, you are. Here, look — I’ll cover it up. Now who makes this again?

Employee: Uh… OmniPox?

Customer: No.

Employee: ArchiePlex?

Customer: No.

Employee: ArcoPax? OxiClean? OctoPussy?

Customer: Look. Just forget it. I’ll trust the review. I’ll take this one. Just ring me up.

Employee: But wait! I’ve got to tell you about the extended warranty! We’ve got three levels — the two-year, the three-year, and the five-year. The five-year is the best; it covers hardware, cabling, screen scratches, and includes an option to have each pixel individually insured for the life of the monitor. All of our warranties cover fire damage, lightning strikes, pit bull manglings, and coffee stains. They range from just twenty-two dollars per month for the two-year plan to only seventeen dollars per month for the five-year warranty. So which plan should I put you down for?

Customer: Actually — none of them.

Employee: But… the protection… the insurance… the lightning. How could you not?

Customer: I just don’t want it, thanks.

Employee: Fine. Gimme your card.

Customer: Okay. Do you know about —

Employee: No. Sorry. Here, sign this.

Customer: Um, okay, but —

Employee: I’ve got other customers. Here’s your receipt. Good day.

Customer: I’ve just got one question about —

Employee: I said, ‘Good day‘. I’m leaving now. Don’t try to follow me.

So, anyway, I got out of the store today just the way I wanted — with the camera, and without the warranty. Now, we’ll see whether I can figure the damned thing out in time for tomorrow’s show.

(And whether I can keep my dog away from the thing, since I don’t have the benefit of the ‘pit bull mangling’ coverage — would that just serve me right?)

I’ll let you know how it goes, and if we’re all lucky — or unlucky, depending on your point of view — I’ll even have something to show you soon. We’ll just have to see.

Permalink  |  2 Comments

2 Responses to “How Can You Not Take It? Don’t You Want Protection Against Swarms of Locusts? Are You Mad?!”

  1. theresa says:

    more than likely, they get bonuses for selling extended warranties. i used to work at a similiar retail establishment that paid a whopping $1 per extended warranty sold.

  2. Lara says:

    Yahoo!! You got a camera!!!!

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