Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Vader, The Emperor, and Me

In my defense, I did not actually engage in any of these behaviors - well, most of them anyways. I only entertained the ideas. They simply crossed my mind, which may end up being just as bad.

I have had some interesting encounters with my bad angel in the last couple of days. They may compel you to look unfavorably on me, dear reader, but these instances are true. And I have always tried to be honest with you.

So without any further introduction, here is my week walking on the Dark Side, as my friend Oakley so lovingly calls it.

1. I spent two hours of work on Monday riding around Charlotte looking for disposable coffee lids. When I told this to a fellow bookshelver who had noticed me missing, he laughed out loud. He said it sounded absurd. We ran out in the Borders cafe, and rather than simply driving twenty minutes down the road to another Borders location, I was sent on a wild coffee lid chase. I visited Dean and Deluca, Target, Harris Teeter, Exxon, and BP. Each place had lids that just barely did not fit. Some were too big. Some were too small. None were just right.

None, that is, except for the ones at BP. Though hideously green when combined with our red cups, they fit perfectly. I asked the owner if I could offer him a buck or two for a sleeve of them. "Give me some sugar, er, coffee lids. I am your neighbor," I said (and it's true; the gas station is right next to my apartment complex). The owner's response: "I don't think I can do that." What? Don't tell me what you don't think you can do, man! Tell me what you are going to do!!! Regardless of his limp response, I got the point. Alas, life lesson #4652 learned: What works for Outkast does not necessarily work for BHumps.

I finally found the lids at another Borders location two hours later. It hit me in the parking lot there that I could very easily call back to work, say my car broke down, and get paid for doing nothing. I could eat a sandwich from Harris Teeter. I could sleep in my car. I could not work. The plan was fool-proof. My battery died, it took a while to get a jump, and I returned to work as quickly as possible (read: two hours later) - mysteriously full and well-rested.

After pondering this a while, I realized I was beginning to breathe like Vader, that the Dark Side was closing in on me. This scared me, so I went back to work immediately after picking up the lids.

2. Yesterday, a frequent shoplifter came into Borders. The call went out through our trendy ear pieces that the guy was chillin' in the cafe. This fella must be in his middle-50's with a wispy white comb-over. He was wearing a navy sweater that only I or Mr. Rogers would wear. He really looked harmless.

We've caught him a couple times though, leaving behind an empty CD or DVD case to avoid the security system in the exit. We even caught him on the security camera once. Due to the litigation-happy society in which we live, we can do nothing about this. We can't touch him or he'll sue - apparently for his right to steal shit. We can only yell "Stop" as he continues to go. How different the world would be if Washington D.C. were populated by booksellers instead of trial lawyers. All that to say, we are utterly helpless to his schemes. All we can do is stare at him until he is uncomfortable enough that he leaves.

This is just what we and he did.

After he left, I eschewed noble thoughts and dreamed of what I wanted to do in that situation. When the powers that be won't protect you, there is only one solution: vigilante justice. Forget the fact that our society would crumble if everyone took matters violently into their own hands. I was angry. Any grown man that steals CD's from Borders is a turd. CD's do not feed hungry children, and they provide only a six-inch diameter tube of shelter from the elements when held over one's head. No noble reason exists for this crime.

My idea: Walk up to him next time he was in the store and just whisper, "I know what you do here," just loud enough so that only he hears. Then proceed to tell him what horrible thing I would do to him if he ever came in the store again. I would never do anything to him, obviously. But he does not know that. If he's stealing CD's from Borders, he must be a coward and would not want to try me. Especially if I gave him the krazy eye. This would solve the problem since we have no means to do it through government channels.

As these thoughts went through my head, I noticed the skin on my hand beginning to get pasty white and wrinkly like the Emperor, that the Dark Side was closing in on me. This scared me, so I dropped the thoughts and went back to mindless work.

3. Last night, I came across this on the Internet. Tired of fighting it, I finally gave in to the Dark Side.

I laughed.


Wilson said...

That's reminiscent of our last phone conversation...I must have rubbed off on you. Good job!

matt said...

Ben -

If you have a few minutes (or hours) check out

It's a wonderful piece of fan fiction, Star Wars trivia, human interest, and bloggery all rolled into one.

Anonymous said...

IF i was going to eat a CD (or steal one for a hungry homeless child) I would totally steal one of Meatloaf's richly flavored musical selections.

If I was just stealing it for my cowardly self (and willing to risk facing Ben's darkside now that he's crossed over) I would go for a little something to calm my nerves afterwards... nelly fortado? eh? What did this poor excuse for a Border's customer steal?

Oakley said...

I believe that next time he came into the store, I would call a cop to come in and just stand by the door to watch this customer. He'll get the hint. Found this on the internet.... apparently it's the Dark Side code and i'm going to need you to memorize it......

"Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.
—The Sith Code "

Welcome to the party buddy.

Ben said...

Jenn, he didn't steal anything this time, as we stared him out of the store before he got to anything. I forget what he took the most recent time, but I shall strive to be more attentive in the future. I have had a change in heart due to your comments though. Imagine what 75 minutes worth of Meatloaf could do for hungry children!!! I will be a little more sympathetic next time. . . .

Oak, that code is scary. It gives me the heebee-jeebee's. That's just not ok.

mwk said...

At least you are only asked to stare shoplifters down. In my bookstore days, I twice had to tail habitual female shoplifters throughout the store until they left. The first time, I was joined in the "pursuit" by my manager and a couple of fellow booksellers, and finally - out of what we could only assume was desperation - the woman actually went to a cashier to purchase something, subsequently pulling numerous items out of her purse that she had decided "not to buy after all." She then preceded to BACK OUT OF THE PARKING LOT, waiving cars around her, so we couldn't get her plate number!