Monday, January 26, 2015

Counterfeit Detection

This will hopefully not be an incredibly long post. A couple of years back I read through a bunch of my blog posts and realized that I write a lot of angry diatribes. Granted, much of what I have to say when I am angry is in reality somewhat comical, but I still don’t want to only put negativity out into the world. I resolved to change my outlook and my tone a bit. I admit that did slow down my blog some.
Many of my posts get typed up and I never hit that publish button.
This morning something happened that set off my write an angry letter reflex. I pulled through the drive-through of my local McDonald’s ( ROCK AND ROLL MCDONALD’S ), ordered my breakfast, pulled to the window to pay, and ran into frustration face first.
Before I explain what bugged me here let me take a time out to explain that McDonald’s is about the 3rd most frustrating place I go. My favorite move, and you can see this at any McDonald’s, any day, at any time, is when you pull to the second window and an employee hands your sack of food out without looking at you much less speaking to you. It happens MOST every visit. Once I even got a good laugh as a girl tried to hand my food out the closed window and slammed her knuckles. I might be petty, but it was funny.
I accepted years ago that it is my responsibility to make sure my fast food order is correct no matter where I pick up the food. That isn’t a reflection of the quality people who prepare my heart attack in a bag or anything. That job is damned tough and the majority of people out there don’t want to do it, even the ones that are. Mistakes happen. That almost never stresses me out.
One of the leading causes of my frustration with McDonald’s, in particular, is the time it seems to take the morons in front of me to order. I am pretty well traveled. I can say that the McDonald’s in both England and Germany have the same basic menu that they have here. The food is better over there, particularly in Germany, but the menu is relatively the same.
With that as an accepted truth, how can it take 8 minutes for the person in front of me to place an order? Logic says that the person is a minimum of 15 years old and likely has at least 10 years of knowledge of the approximate McDonald’s breakfast and/ or lunch menu. Most of the time these people do not exceed 1 or 2 people in said vehicle. The last I checked McDonald’s doesn’t hand out loans or offer  drive-through family planning. What is the bloody hold up?
I don’t hold it against McDonald’s that the order in front of me is taking a good week to figure out how to spend the $3.47 that they scraped out of the ashtray of the car to buy some lunch. I get that the dollar double cheeseburger is like $1.39 now, but it really shouldn’t take 6 freaking months to work out that math. Just pull out your government issued smartphone. It has a calculator function. *sigh*
Today though my great anger came at the drive-through window. The young man that confirmed my order could barely repeat it back to me (not lack of intelligence by any means, just seems uncomfortable in his job at the drive-through) but he managed it, gave me my total, and took the $20 bill I handed him.
Then he began the insulting part of the transaction that is not nearly unique to McDonald’s. He felt of the bill, he held it up to the light, and still not satisfied he then marked the $20 with the fraud detection marker. I have had this happen several times at different places and most often I say,” Don’t worry I used good ink when I printed those this morning.” I say this because I am frustrated and I am trying to alleviate that frustration with humor. Most the time whatever clerk I am dealing with realizes that and jokes back.
Why am I frustrated, a thoughtful reader might ask?
I have managed a number of stores over the years and I know that counterfeit bills can be an issue. Even losing $10 to a fake can be a great deal to explain to the people higher up the food chain. I get it, but these people could be trained to handle this with a little more tact.
If I was concerned (since counterfeit bills seem to hit in waves) I told my clerks to mark everything $10 and above as they took the bill. If they did this with every customer in line and not just when a bill or a customer looked suspect, then either everyone is offended or no one is offended based simply on treating every customer and every transaction in the exact same way.
The baser part of my objection comes from questioning their qualification to truly detect fraud. I have had some basic training in detecting counterfeit bills. Rubbing the bill does tell you if the paper feels right, but that has changed a great deal with the newer printing of currency. Yes, you can hold the bill up to the light to look for holograms and for the authentication strip, but even that can be duplicated.
The most reliable way to see if a bill is fake is to mark it with your pen, short of having some of the special lights and equipment that banks have. The truth is McDonald’s and businesses like them are worried about fraud enough to give their people a hard time so that the employee takes it out on the customers, but they are not so concerned that each register has a counterfeit detection station.
That means it isn’t that big a problem. If it is not that big of a problem, leave the poor guy at the window alone about it and don’t ruffle my feathers along the way.  Not to put too fine a point on it but it took him 3 tries to make change for a $20 on an order that cost $10.80.
I would say it is much more likely to cause McDonald’s a problem that he cannot count back from a $20 and make accurate change quickly. That also seems to be common at the McDonald’s drive-through.
Mostly, I just wonder if I could have saved myself a little light frustration and a few hundred words of a rant by getting up early enough to have my corn flakes.

Then again the cashier at Wal-Mart that sold me those couldn’t make change for a $20 in one try either. This is why debit cards are so popular.

School Lunch and Infidelity

Tigers don’t change their stripes. An old dog doesn’t learn new tricks.
Both of those old chestnuts are ways of saying that people do not change. I consider myself a student of human behavior, and in the years that I have been paying close attention to the people around me, I can tell you that this old adage is very true. An intelligent reader might already be wondering where am I going with this particular point.
I am going to do something rare and cut to the chase. Dealing with other people is almost the standard human condition. We are meant to be social animals. This means that there are some basic things that we all have to accept when dealing with one another.
Having my wife recently dump me has me eyeing the dating pool. I don’t want to be here. I wasn’t given a lot of choices when she dumps me for some dude she has been talking to since back in the days when we were dating. I guess the grass looked greener on that side, and maybe it is. That isn’t the point. That relates to my subject though.
I forgot the basic concept. Tigers do not change their stripes. Old dogs don’t learn new tricks. People never change. Me overlooking that fact cost me a good bit.
When the missus and I got together she had a boyfriend. They lived together. According to her, he was a drug addict and mean to her. I saw evidence of that truth, and most importantly I wanted her so I didn’t think anything about the flaw in her being with that doofus. I admit that I liked her from the first time I put my eyes on her. If I ignore the last 4 months and 2 days and the things that have happened in that very short amount of time, I still like her. (I don’t ignore that time even a little bit and it rather dampens my like of her)
When she and I started dating she was still with her last guy. I know they had sex after our first date. It didn’t really bother me. (I have never been particularly jealous of that sort of thing. I am most thankful for the person who is nice enough to have sex with me so long as it is all safe. Very cavalier of me, I know) She made it very, very clear that we could hang out, but she couldn’t kiss me or anything until they broke up. She gave in a kissed me before she kicked him to the curb. I figured I was just that good.
Just two days after she left me, I stopped by her work to try and have a conversation. I got a much-needed hug and tried to kiss my loving wife. She turned her head and refused to kiss me. She couldn’t even look me in the eye. I knew immediately that she was in another relationship. I even knew who she was with.
Based on the way she acted with me, I am 99% sure they were already sexually active. I would be more than willing to bet that they have moved in together by now. I would say that he feels like he is special and different. He was cool enough to take her away from her husband. I even heard a rumor that they are engaged. I could believe that even though we aren’t anywhere near divorced in spite of the fact I haven’t heard from her in 60 days or so.
I should have seen all of it coming based on nothing more than the simple idea- People do not change. A tiger does not change its stripes. An old dog does not learn new tricks.
I know all of that is sad to read, but you never really lose if you learn from your mistakes. I am keeping a close eye on the people around me and the decisions that make. I have decided to be a lot more choosy and critical of how people come into my life. I am going to look very hard at how the person I get with ended their last relationship.
That may have triggered a question from the more intelligent and critical of my audience. That question would likely be,”Why do you assume that the person you are going to hook up with has an ex?”
Another very basic truth to accept in life and social situations are: Everyone has someone and that someone is likely to be complicated.
To the guy who is dating my wife, even though we have met a time or two, I am just the guy he took her from. I matter just a little bit more since I have legal paperwork on her, but some people worry about that more than others. He has already overcome me as an obstacle when she chose to dump me for his loser ass.
(oh that one was emotional and mean, but what kind of person breaks up a happy marriage? and yes if you are reading this in spite of the lies she told you we were doing really, really well before you came back around and you screwed us up. You won’t have to answer to me for that, but broken Oaths and broken promises come with circumstances you faithless, immoral heel)
To him, she was an available single woman. I pretty much didn’t fight things happening. I wasn’t much of a road bump. That isn’t the case for most people.
Everyone has someone and that someone is likely to be complicated.
If you accept the fact that the person you are interested in has some emotional baggage in the form of current or prior attachment things are likely to be much smoother. I never had much use for jealousy.
Children avert your eyes for this next statement. I am about to be perverse.
I don’t sleep with virgins. That is a hard and fast rule for me because I don’t want to deal with the insanity of that situation. Plus any virgin my age has a lot of other things going on.
That rule for me means that any woman goodly enough to bless my bed has had dick before me. I don’t care about that. As long as she is clean the rest doesn’t really matter. I don’t want to know her sexual resume and I don’t give mine out. If I am proceeded by dick into the relationship, why should I really even care about it? So far, it is a fact that the women I have been with have moved on to other relationships… most of them while still telling me they love me (the wife was different in that way. She went from loving me and needing space for a few days…obviously, so she could shag him… to wanting a divorce and never wanting to speak to me again in 4 days. You have to give credit where credit is due.)
Back to the moral of the story…
I accept that any woman I involve myself with is going to have guys (and probably women) around her that also want her attention. The only part of that which really matters to me is that said woman is choosing to give me her time. I let that fact do a few things for me.
1) I don’t get jealous. If she decides not to give me all her time, that is alright with me. If I get some of it (her time, perverts) then I don’t worry about the rest.
2) I let her choice of me deal with her attachments. There isn’t any point in me fighting battles I don’t have to. (Now if someone acts a fool and needs to be dealt with, great, I enjoy that sort of thing)
3) If she chooses to move on to someone else, I accept it and (eventually) do the same. Begging someone to stay when they don’t want to is pointless. They already made their decision when they moved on. (This is a hard one when you have been married nearly 5 years, but I stuck to my beliefs)
4) I don’t get possessive. That is a big one because it keeps a lot of negative things that go on between couples from becoming an issue.
5) I expect trouble and don’t worry about it. It might be as simple as her wanting to explain some bad experience to me or as big as him showing up with a gun to run me off. ( I have had both happen a couple of times)
This lets me keep things simple… well… no one would describe my love life as ever having been simple, but for the last 25 years, I have had a busy love life. I would like to think I have gotten better at it over time. There aren’t too many people beating down my door at the moment to be the future ex Mrs. Cantrell, but that is the last thing I want right now anyway.
Just remember, for those of you crazy enough to be out there dating, there are two basic rules I have taught you tonight.
First, People don’t change. The way he or she is treating the last person they are with is the way they will be treating you going forward. (Lots of luck to the fella who stole away the wife. Trust me, pal, you can’t give her more than I did, or treat her any better. Plus your karma going into this thing is DARK. As much as this sounds like I hate you, I don’t, you really did me a favor, but it hurt when you did.) If you are helping someone out of their situation and it looks sketchy, realize that they are a big part of that sketchy business and keep your distance even if it looks safe.
Old Dogs Don’t Learn New Tricks. A Tiger Doesn’t Change Its Strips. People Do NOT Change.
Second, Everyone has someone and it is always complicated. If you are very, very lucky you will never know about the past of the person you end up with. More likely it will blindside you right in the beginning with a bunch of drama and nonsense. Either way, make sure that the relationship is worth it before moving forward. Expect it. Be prepared (or armed as the case may be).
(for example, all the guys my poor wife is dating right now have me as extended baggage. God have mercy on you all.)

That’s it, kids. I hope it had some meaning to you. I hope it helps.

December 2nd Comic Books on a Budget