I know this sounds paranoid, but here’s the deal: I was at this tradeshow/fair/fest/thingie on Friday and I made a purchase at the booth of some oh-so-classic Persian dudes as to be played by Horatio Sanz and Rob Schneider, as to be used as spokesdudes for moustache wax; as to portray the wildly-inflammatory villains in the next 24, next Die Hard or next James Bond story. My purchase was $30 worth of stuff. Thirty Dollars. Three-Zero-point-Zero-Zero, right?
The first guy packs up my stuff and sends me over to the second guy to make my purchase, and like a big dufus I’m using my plastic. The second guy is busy with “We are always, always the most cheapest of silver, you can tell everyone!” as well as the occasional “I see other people going to other people and I know they will be here, soon they will be here…” He is so busy that he somehow, mystically manages to charge me not the $30 that I was supposed to be charged, but instead $141.52. And he slides me the receipt to sign and I get lost in trying to find a number anywhere on this receipt which resembles the dollar amount that I’m purchasing. That one with the 3 and the trio of zeros. But I’m finding ones and fours and fives and twos and no threes and no zeros and where the hell did an additional number before the decimal point come from?
At this point Mr. Second Dude gets involved with big, swoopy apologies and “I am no idea how that happened. Somebody had a $141.52 somewhere, for sure! For sure!” He asks for my card back, and at this point I’m 97% “hey, it’s a human mistake” and only 3% “I’m on to you, you swarthy back-stabber, and luckily I brought my oozy and know the ancient art of Karate!!!!” He pushes some buttons and runs my card and out pops another little slip. And then he asks me to sign them. Both of them.
Wait, I have to sign the one that says “yes, please, I will give them $141.52 of my money, and thank you for coming.”? Why should I do that? I don’t want to give you that money, that’s MY money. And so I say “I’m not so happy about signing the receipt that says $141.52.”
“Oh, but you see here how the other is saying “Return”? See “return” there? See that there? That is the return of the other. You sign this, but then you sign that and there is a “return” and it’s all good. It’s all good.” (twirls his evil mustache, even if he didn’t actually have a mustache.)
I stood there for what felt like about 15 minutes, but was probably only about 30 seconds, and I can hear the voice in my head saying “you do NOT sign anything with that many extra numbers on it! No signing!” but the other receipt DOES say “return” and he DID say that it would be all good… That’s a legally binding contract, right? So guess what I did? (all of you who said “signed it!” make me sad that you have so little faith in me. And are right.)
Now we jump to Monday morning and my checking to make sure that my rent check (scheduled to go from my bank this very morning all automatic and robot-like through the wonders of the internet and modern science) has gone like it’s supposed to. But it hasn’t. Also the difference between “the money that you have in your account” and “the money in your account which you can have” is way different. WAY different. By something around $141. And fifty two cents. Gah!!!
I go through the soft-and-cuddly automated phone jail to where it lists all the pending debit card transactions – it sounds something like this:
“Yes, I remember that. Yes, that too. Yes…, yes…, yes…, No. NonononononoNOnoNO! Where is the negative $141.52? I hear the positive one, but right after that should be the negative one! The return! Where’s the return??? I have the receipt that says “return!” It’s all good! IT’S ALL GOOD!!!!” (this is where I remembered that I was at work and some portion of this emotion is coming out of my face at a volume called “audible by others” and there are concerned heads popping up over cube walls like panicked groundhogs. And I shut up. And I press the key to talk to someone.)
The helpfully-intended but less-helpful girl from somewhere far, far away (I could feel 100% humidity and smell cumin through the phone) could only explain to me that it’s not uncommon for the transaction to happen right away but for the return to take “longer.”
“how much longer?”
“I am sorry, I do not have that information.”
“because it’s holding up my rent check, you see? And I’d just like to let my landlord know when the funds are coming, so about when will that get fixed?”
“I am sorry, I do not have that information.” (twirls her evil mustache, even if she didn’t have a mustache.)
Long story short here (if you say “too late” I’ll send my luck to you!!!) is that the money returned to the bank account this morning and the rent check is going tomorrow and my landlord is super-cool about it always, and now for you my fabulous readers I can be one of those excellent cautionary tales, because NEVER, EVER, EVER sign the receipt for the wrong amount, and you don’t want a RETURN, you want a VOID. Tell them Femtastic told you so!