Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I hate getting ripped off sooooo much. Here's a story from my pre-Operation Night Brace life that you might find amusing...
Before getting into this posting I need to give you some facts: I brought a pair of jeans from the GAP: low-rise bootcut and dark blue, to be precise. I wore them for 5 days. On the fifth day I sat down and the jeans split in 3 places across the left knee leaving a whopping fat gapping hole. I was not happy. I decided to take them back and change them.
“There’s nothing I can do,” said the store manager of the GAP branch on Broadway. “You’ll have to ring customer services on Monday. They are open 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday.” “But I brought them in this store?” “Like I said you have to ring customer services.” “But it’s Saturday – I want my jeans replaced” “Call customer services.” “Errrrrr errrrr – well, I’ll just stay here ‘til 8am Monday then.” “If you do that I’ll call the police,” said the manager. With that he was gone - never to resurface during the following 2 hour ‘ordeal’.
The manager left me fuming. I felt like Michael Douglas in ‘Falling Down.’ Something in me snapped. I asked the shop assistant if I could borrow a paper and pen. At the top of the paper - which happened to be a piece of GAP till paper - I wrote… ‘WE THE UNDERSIGNED, WOULD LIKE ‘GAP’ TO ACCEPT THEIR RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE POOR WORKMANSHIP ON THE JEANS THAT GARETH BROUGHT AND REPLACE THEM.’ I then proceeded to ask every shopper in the store to sign-it which they did happily wishing me good luck with my campaign. I had managed to get 4 signatures until the fifth person I asked turned out to be an off duty GAP security guard. Doh. I was told to stop harassing the customers. “When did I stop being a customer?” I asked. Good question, I thought. The security guard was stumped. He told me that I wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone in the store. So I came up with a new protest plan – I wrote the following on my knobbly knee that was poking out the hole… ‘I BROUGHT THESE JEANS AT GAP AND THEY ARE A BIT RUBBISH.’ I then proceeded to point my knee at every shopper who walked in. It wasn’t as effective as talking to people but it got a few laughs.
I was frustrated. I wanted to steal something – another pair of jeans – but I just knew that was asking for trouble so instead I decided to steal their time. I spoke to every employee who would listen. “I can’t talk to you.” “Come on – this is fun - let’s debate, let’s argue.” But no one would. “Look I’m being nice about this I’m not getting angry - I’m smiling and being polite. Just think – this is a good story - when you get home tonight you’ll be able to tell your family about the eccentric English guy you met today who refused to leave the store.” The security guard wasn’t amused – in fact he called back-up security from another GAP store nearby. I was surrounded and still I refused to leave. “This is not about money – the jeans only cost $60 – this is about the principle…. And people die for principles!” I was starting to get a little dramatic. I was on a Shopping Jihad. Time passed. I’d now been there 90 minutes.
“Would you like to come and stand over here?” said one of the security guards, trying to move me away from the main bit of the store. “That’s very kind of you to be thinking about my welfare but I’m happy here.” I wasn’t moving anywhere. I was in a prime spot – every shopper who walked in the store could see something was happening and as long as I continued to speak loudly about my predicament to the security guards they all soon found out what was going on without me actually talking directly to anyone. “I’m sure you have somewhere you need to be,” said one of the other guards. “That’s very kind of you to be thinking about my welfare but I have nothing else to do today except change these jeans. I have plenty of time.” I lied. I had arranged to meet my friend Caroline and was now 60 minutes late.
I’d been keeping her updated with texts.
3:15pm IN GAP HAVIN ARGUMENT MIGHT B L8
3:57pm SURROUNDED BY SECURITY
4:32pm POLICE COMING
That’s right. You read it correctly the police were coming. Security had had enough and they wanted me out the store, pronto. The conversation had gone like this… “We’re going to call the police if you don’t leave.” “Call them,” I said calling their bluff. And they did.
Waiting the 20 minutes for the cops to show was a very long 20 minutes indeed. I could have runoff, but that would be like a suicide bomber leaving his special backpack at home - I was sticking to my guns/backpack and banished all thoughts of ‘oh no they’ll cancel my visa’ from my mind.
When confronted by two New York cops it is hard not to look at anything but their LOADED GUNS. I tried to intimidate the officers with my finest colonial English. “Good afternoooooonnnn officers. Pray tell, what are my options on this lovely Saturday afternoon.” “You either leave or we’ll give you a summons.” I was guessing that a ‘summons’ wasn’t some kind of American candy bar so I went with the first option and the police officers escorted me off the premises.
GAP had won… for that day at least but I vowed that I would have my revenge. The officers told me not to go back in the store. I said OK. I asked them if they’d pose for a picture to commemorate this event. They said OK.
“One last thing,” said one of the officers. “I can’t help but notice that you are wearing the jeans you wanted to change – what were you thinking? You don’t wear the clothes you want to change back to the store. Are you mental?”
“No, I’m an Inventor.”
And with that, I leapt onto my bike and cycled off into the sunset to meet Caroline in my jeans with a hole.