Signifying Credit

This morning I went to the post office to both pick up a package from Colacitti (the cover!) and to mail out a book or two.

While standing in the long line of the Charlotte Post Office (it’s one of the oldest buildings in the area. They literally have marble floors because marble used to be cheap if you bought it in bulk. It also has a closed-down Post Office General office and a closed-down Army Recruiting Office. For you young’uns, the post office used to be where you went if you wanted to join the armed forces. Now you can stop by on your way to Super Cuts in the mall), I had a lady behind who – apparently – I’ve known for several years (I‘ve never seen her before, but she talked to me like I was her understudy and was being paid to listen). She was talking about her kids and her grand kids and how her job is giving her headaches… so I was already upset by the time I got up to the register.

I told the Post Office Lady that I’m box 461 and I should have a package in the back somewhere. She went and got it. I gave her a wrapped copy of “l(a” and said I’d like to send it by media mail since the patron said he was in no rush to get it. She rang it up and put an appropriate stamp on it. I used a credit card since I like to keep track of all my transactions relating to Sliver Ltd. I handed it to the Post Office Lady, she looked at the back and said, “Just so you know, writing ‘see I.D.’ doesn’t make this a legal transaction. You have to sign your credit card.” She handed it back.

Keep in mind, there is a trove of people behind me waiting to send out three-dollar-shit they sold on eBay.

I replied with a natural reaction, “I’ve never signed my credit cards. I want people to look at my I.D. when I buy $400 worth of flooring.” I then showed her my driver’s license.

She looked at it like I was showing her a pile of monkey poo and said, “Your card has to be signed. I worked at a bank.” I looked back and noticed people getting antsy, shifting back-and-forth on their heels. “But you don’t work at a bank now. It’s none of your business how I sign my credit cards.”

At this point, she stopped looking me in the eye, “Sir, should I get my manager?”

“Do you honestly want to get your manager – with all these people standing in line – so we can discuss the best way to pay for a three-dollar stamp?” It’s not like I stole this credit card so I can go on a dollar-menu shopping spree.

“I used to work at a bank, and if you don’t sign your credit card…”

“But now you work at the post office. You sell stamps. So sell me a stamp.”

At this point she went to get the manager. While she was gone, I looked past the talkative woman behind me to see a guy who was obviously mad at the Post Office Lady and said, “This is what I do. I steal people’s identity so I can have free shipping.” He smiled. Then the talkative lady chimed in and he looked upset again.

The manager came back, didn’t say a word to me, took my credit card, swiped it, gave me the receipt, and left. The Post Office Lady said “I can help who’s next!” and I was on my way.

This is the one time I can remember that being a rude guy actually paid off.

Usually it just makes The Wife mad.


7 Responses

  1. awesome

  2. Hey Nick!

    I like this story. Well done.

    For a while, I went through a period where I just signed everything (CC slips, electronic pads, checks, etc.) like this:


    People didn’t really like that either.

    • Wasn’t there something on 20/20 that had people signing “Adolf Hitler” on receipts?
      Who knows, maybe I really have been doing it all wrong for years but no one’s noticed.

  3. Rudeness almost always pays off, unfortunately. It’s an adaptive trait. Generations from now, rudeness will be even more prevalent.

    In fact, this process may have begun generations ago…

    • Rudeness usually only pays off in arguements. I really don’t have a very good sense of being polite. I’m learning.
      For instance, The Wife had a friend over the other day who got fired because her “boss is an idiot and he doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
      I really wanted to say something like, “No one’s boss knows what they’re doing; even the boss of people who are self-employed don’t know what they’re doing. There’s something about being in charge that makes you stupid. If you can find a career where your boss knows what he’s doing, you take it.” I thought that would be consoling because it’s the truth.
      After my recent lessons on ediquette, though, I found that a simple, “Aw. That sucks,” does wonders for the relationship. No one likes the truth. People like to be agreed with.

      • “Because my boss is an idiot” is never the reason that someone was fired. At least, it is never a sufficient explanation. Moreover, it clearly is not a sufficient explanation, meaning that the person giving it as a reason is fully aware that it is not the real reason.

        I mean, did that boss just come in and fire everybody? (The answer is no.) Ok, so what signaled you out for firing?

        Tangentially, I note I’m actually in sort of a middle management position, and I attempt to maintain a calculated ineptitude with regard to performing the tasks of those I manage. It assures that I never have to cover their work in the case of an emergency. There are distinct advantages to appearing clueless.

  4. I know that and you know that, and I’m sure (to a degree) the person who said it knows that. But one of the etiquette rules I’m learning from The Wife is that, just because we all know that, it doesn’t mean one of us should point it out. Her friend just wanted someone to say, “He’s an idiot? How?” Then a conversation emerges about idiot bosses.

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