Excitement in a small town is where you find it. Fortunately, it’s not too hard for someone like me who’s easily amused at even the most mundane things. Take electronic devices, like cash registers and security systems in stores. Nothing funny there, but I always seem to have trouble with them.
Part of the reason is I never carry cash with me. This is mainly because I don’t own any. It’s been that way all my life.
I never had money, even as a kid. Still, it had its advantages. The local bullies wouldn’t even try to shake me down for lunch money. They knew all they would get is a badly smashed peanut butter sandwich squished between my nervous, dirty little paws, or an overly ripe semi-black banana. That’s not much of a haul, even for an elementary school hoodlum.
When I got older, I got credit card applications by the bushel basket load every week. It would bring a tear to my eyes, and I would whisper in a small voice, “They love me, they really love me.” Still, I questioned his or her wisdom in loaning money to someone as irresponsible as me. Let that be a warning to you kids! Never buy stock in any credit card company that would have me as a customer. You’re bound to lose.
But, I digress.
Anyway, as I had no cash, I got to using credit cards so much that I would wear out the little magnetic strip on it’s backside. I’d have a big load of groceries on the counter that had just been run through, then my credit card wouldn’t work. I was at the Wal-Mart in Danville when it happened, and one of my friends, Rodney Marlow from the factory, hollered out from the back of the line, “What are you doing up there, Begley?” with a laugh. I hollered back, “All my credit cards keep bouncing, so I’m just trying one after another.”
I turned around to the cashier and said, “Try this one.”
“OK. Hey, didn’t that guy back there just call you Begley?” said the cashier with arched eyebrows.
“Yeah, what of it?”
“This card says Greg Simms.”
“Yeah, that’s me too. I own a big grocery store down in Springfield. Begley is just a nickname.”
“OK, Mr. Simms. Sounds good to me. They don’t pay me to fight it out with customers when you’re making minimum wage,” she said with a smile.
Anyway, she ran the card through and it lit up the cash register like a Christmas tree, a big Christmas tree. I decided to go back and buy a few extra things in the electronics department after that.
Just kidding, Greg.
Anyway, Cindy has had her own run in with my jinx.
Cindy has a continuing problem of setting off every store security alarm when she walks in or out. She could never figure what was happening. It didn’t matter what store, it didn’t matter what she took in with her, it didn’t matter what she took out. It remained a mystery to her for many years until I let her in on my dirty little secret. Namely, my jinx on all things electrical had worn off on her. Still, I hadn’t had this happen to me before. Apparently my jinx had just mutated into another form.
I still remember one Christmas we went shopping together and she set off the Old Navy, Wal-Mart, and Target store alarms in quick succession. Cindy was being made to “assume the position” by a particularly concerned door guard at the Wal-Mart. Yep, that 91-year-old great grandma would have made old Sam Walton proud. Cindy hollered, “For goodness sakes, Kenny, tell her about the jinx.”
I always like to give Cindy something to laugh about, so I stopped, stared at her with a puzzled look, and said, “I’m sorry madam. Do I know you?” as I hurried out of the store.
Strange, she didn’t find that funny at all while we drove home. No sense of humor I guess.
What got me to writing this was when Cindy and I were in the checkout line at Parkview IGA last week. Pat was running the cash register. Mary Carey was in front of us and I must have got too close. My jinx jumped over on top of her, and Pat’s cash register suddenly went haywire for about five minutes.
Pat couldn’t figure it out, while employee Karen Smith and customer Elaine Coyle watched on in amusement with us as she tried to make it give up 88 cents. Pat had to slap it up side its metal head, but it finally let go of the money. I suddenly had flashbacks to schoolyard bullies that didn’t realize I was “without funds.” I believe if I had a peanut butter sandwich in my pocket I would have handed it right over to Pat.
Anyway, Mary was made whole again and was headed to Wendy’s with her new found fortune to get three fourths of a Frosty.
Pat looked up at me and said, “Thanks for being patient, sir. I don’t know what happened back there.”
“No problem, Pat. I’m a patient sort of guy.”
I slid my card through and it wouldn’t work. I guess the jinx was still there.
Pat said, “Here, just give it to me and I’ll key in your numbers.”
I handed her the card and she looked at it for minute and skeptically said, “Did you know my boss is named Greg Simms too?”
Oops, wrong card.