Now and then you encounter the Clerk Who's Not Up for Banter, and that can be dicey. It was 9:30 at the grocery store; I'd gone for eggs, since we had no eggs. Picked up a few other things, because you always need few other things. Even if you don't now, you will eventually. So I had creamer for Daughter's coffee, two bottle of Blood Orange LifeWater I use a mixer for orange-flavored vodka - a refreshing summer treat! - and nothing else. Certainly not the overpriced coffee they started selling to people who want to empower other people. I have no problem with empowering female-owned coffee plantations in other countries, but A) it's $13.99 a pound, and B) the term "Women of Coffee," used liberally in the packaging, made my teeth hurt.

There's no reason Women of Coffee can't bring it in for $7.99 like everyone else.

So I walk up to the registers. Not one has a clerk, because it's 9:30. There are three clerks chatting by the window. I stand there for oh, 20 seconds. One of them sees me and reveals herself as the manager by whipping the other clerks into action, and there are great and profuse apologies.

"What IS this," I say. "I've been standing here for almost 30 seconds! Why I never." Obviously I am kidding. The girl who takes the register (and I use the term accurately; they hire high-schoolers, and lots of them) beeps everything quickly and says she's sorry but she didn't see me, standing behind the display there.

Well. She's tall. Volleyball tall. I'm not. "You mean my commanding size was not visible behind that puny display?" I say.

The bagger, Fernando, who is shorter than me, snorts and grins because he gets it.

"What's so funny?" I demand to know.

The cashier looks at us both in confusion, because . . . because it's happy over here but she doesn't get why it's happy, and I want to say "I'm sorry. I'm just that guy who has to do a thing. That is my problem. I am that guy who has to do a thing."

Earlier that day I was operating one of the parking pay-machines downtown. It's simple: you enter the number by the pole nearest your car, push in your card, wait for it to be verified, then push the money buttons to get time. Then you push PRINT and it gives you a receipt, which verifies that you've paid. It did everything except give me a receipt.

This indicates that the transaction didn't happen. Or did it? I went across the street to try another machine, but this was a rare block; there wasn't one across the street. Went back to my machine, tried it again - and it said I could only add 25 cents, because that would max me out for the allotted time. So it had taken my money. It just didn't give a receipt.

Or had it? So I called 311, the Minneapolis help number. Talked to John. Told him the situation. He said it was possible the machine had taken my money and given me minutes, but he couldn't commit, so here's what we'll do. Give me your name and email, and I'll send you an email confirming the details and time our our conversation in case you get a ticket.

If this sounds strange, you don't know Minneapolis. Yes, I got a guy on the phone in 20 seconds who would help me prove I'd plugged the meter. So I gave him my name.

"Oh! The journalist!"

Well, not really, but I have done some reporting lately, so sure, I guess so. And then I said "this had better work, John, or such a drubbing I will give you in the paper. Why I never."

There's a pause. "I'm kidding! I wouldn't." I just said that because I am that guy who has to do a thing. Anyway, he said he would send me an email and I thanked him excessively, then used my phone to video the act of operating the machine, entering .25 payment, getting the MAX TIME message, and getting no receipt. At this point I actually wished I would get a ticket, because I could get a column out of fighting it.

Ding! phone makes the email sound. It's from John, confirming the details of our conversation. My case is now iron-clad.

Another guy comes up to use the machine, and I have to warn him what's going on. I tell him I think it took my money and gave me time. But I'm not comfortable saying it works. He has to make his own decision. He is conflicted.

Man I don't need no ticket.

I don't need no ticket, I say.

Ain't nobody need no ticket, he says.

I wonder if we're in triple negative territory here, and as I walk to work I think: the phrase Ain't nobody need no ticket makes sense, but ain't somebody need no ticket is gibberish. Likewise anybody need no ticket. That only works if nobody need no ticket.

I was almost disappointed a few hours later to see I hadn't got no ticket, because there went a column idea: poof.

You can't count on the city for anything.

The finest in humor. Let's consult today's japery:

It's funny because she doesn't know that the caddie is a person. She is unaware of the terminology. Knees were slapped all around when someone uncorked this one.

By the way, it's part of now-dead genre of humor: He-She jokes. Nowadays they'd be too gendered; you'd have to have It-It jokes.




Well, yes:

Yes, that fascinating movie, "Dishon Oredlady." Hedy now has her due as the inventor of wifi, more or less, completing her rep as all-around amazing. But enough about the beautiful woman! Here's some radios.


Self charging?

How did that work? I expect a crank was involved, but it wasn't shown. Perhaps they wanted you to think it just happened.

Surprising, it doesn't sound like a buzzing gnat in a tin can:

Rosewood plastic, the richest kind.

You got your tubes and you got your rectifier:

Wonderful FM! It had been announced in 1936 ; this ad ran in 1947. FM had been damaged by some skullduggery too complex to be rendered here; in Detroit, says wikipedia, there were only 3,000 receivers for the new type of FM.

It's not just a record player - it's a record player with a fancy, solemn name.

Yeah, you'll never have needle problems again. I've always loved the GE logo; it was a thing of mystery when I saw it glowing on our stove. It's amazing that they haven't dumped it. They know.

Another example of 1947 style:

You can feel the scratchy nubby fabric, can't you. Those would be the towels you kept in the cabin, and didn't care if they got musty.

Finally, from 1947 again:

"The staff of life needed around the world - don't waste a precious crumb."

Because they're still starving in Europe.

Oh, er, ahem:

That'll do; see you here and there. A couple sci-fi covers! We're coming to the end, and you know what that means.

You do? Remind me.



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