Nobody Expects the Shack o' Inquisition

There are two things I have begun to believe:

1.) That in-between voiceover gigs as Darth Vader, James Earl Jones works for U.S. intelligence. (Come on—Sneakers? Hunt for Red October? Clear and Present Danger? It's so obvious!) I suspect his second-in-command is Gene Hackman.


2.) These intelligence agencies field information gathered through skillfully-trained interrogators, as employed by Radio Shack

See-- a few years ago all I’d wanted was a tidy, little micro-cassette recorder. A simple model so I could conduct a couple of interviews for my Real Job.

So I’d stopped by Radio Shack, and the helpful Radio Shack Guy (shouldn’t they have a hip, funny, self-aware name like the GeekSquad people? Hmm… Radioheads?... Shackies?... )

(The Shack Pack?...)

Okay, so the helpful Shack-Packer aided me in my selection, and then led me up to the counter. At this point, I was happy with the ease of the transaction….

And that’s when the high-level interrogation began.

What was my name? he wanted to know....

And would I spell that that for him?

And how about the ol’ zip code?

Next, street address? Phone number with area code first, please?

Oh, and what’s my shoe size? Any birthmarks or noticeable tattoos?

Okay, it wasn’t quite that bad. (I don't have any tattoos, and my shoe size is average for my height.) But it all got keyed into their system.

I also realized I couldn’t see where my cassette recorder had gone, anymore. It had been tucked somewhere out of view, possibly as leverage for the information they were trying to wring from me.

I was pretty sure in a minute or so, I’d be shoved into a wooden chair with a spotlight shining fiercely into my eyes. And a shadowy figure with a German accent would say:

"Zo… Vat do you plan to do vis zat tape recorder, uh? You are interested in ze listenink in, are you, ja? Making vis ze schnoooopink, Fraulein Thorson?-- Eef zat eez even your real name?! Eez eet? … Eez eet safe?"

Actually, I mentioned that it seemed to be a heckuva lot of information to have to give just for a micro-cassette player. (I even planned to pay cash).

But the Shack-Packer just shrugged, my recorder reappearing from captivity, now in a plastic bag, as he rang up my bill. As if: “Yeah, yeah, ‘nobody expects the Radio Shack Inquisition.’ Tell it to somebody who cares-- and don’t trip over the electroshock treatment cables and dental drills on the way past the manager's office.”

Of course, as a marketer myself, I know it's all just general consumer data. Stuff that's probably siloed in a database that's never going to amount to much except possibly help the Shack-Packers collect girls' phone numbers for potential dates.

I wish them good luck with that.

But as I gathered my package and headed to the door, I could have sworn I heard someone muttering in a deep, familiar bass voice, "Hmm... shoe size, eight-and-a-half, medium..."

“James Earl Jones?” But by the time I turned, he was gone.


And a shame, too. I would have liked to ask what he and Hackman did about 9/11... And also the deal with Star Wars Episode I-III. I mean, what the heck did Lucas do to that franchise, anyway?

Radio Shack has undoubtedly also gotten all the pertinent data about Humor-blogs.


Greg said...

The Shack Packers (damn, that sounds a little dirty, eh?) have ALWAYS been a nosey bunch.

A mini-CASSETTE recorder? They still make those?? I thought everything was digital these days...

Jenn Thorson said...

Greg- Heh, actually, the first time a Radio Shack employee asked me casually, "Can I have your phone number?" I was ready to retort, "Business, or personal?" :)

And yep, I belieev they still do make mini-cassette recorders. Some of us are kickin' it old school. :)

DeadRooster said...

I hate Radio Shack. I went there looking for a Flux Capacitor and they told me there was no such thing!


Jenn Thorson said...

Well, jumpin' jigowatts, Rooster, the Delorean just isn't what it once was, either, you know.

With its decline, you have to expect a certain shift in stock for replacement parts. :)

Tiggy said...

Even worse when the counter guy asks for your name and address and you can't remember it!

Because that happens to everyone, right?

Jenn Thorson said...

Tiggy, Tiggy, Tiggy-- is it those photocopier fumes again? Didn't we talk about that last week? :)

Anonymous said...

You mean people actually answer those questions? When these business ask, "Can I have your . . .", I answer "No." Some employees are not surprised, while others seem to be wondering if I'm from another planet.

Jenn Thorson said...

Ah, but Mark, this was in the earlier days of this sort of market questioning...

When we were still all naive and surprised they were even asking...

And when it looked a bit like they wouldn't give us our stuff unless we told them. Y'know, shopping hostage crisis. :)