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Six Counties Of Separation

One can’t do business at any business these days without an employee asking for some piece of one’s personal information. From safety to privacy, there are several reasons not to divulge chapter or verse about oneself -- consider, too, when you answer, you’re providing facts about yourself to every other stranger within hearing range, not just the stranger who’s asking. So I don’t care if it’s my telephone number, my first name, or even my zip code, my response to these inquiries is always “I don’t give that out.” Yes, while the rest of the population is walking around with their identities scribbled on their Starbucks cups, my Iced Latté is decorated with nothing but a cute smilie. Now that y’all know about where I stand on the matter…

I went into an automotive store I’m familiar with to pick up a part for my car. A salesman I’m not familiar with located the item for me.

“Is this something I can do myself?” I asked, gesturing to my vehicle outside -- obviously meaning: will you do it for me?

The fellow tapped some keys on the PC. A diagram for my specific hitch popped up. I received an explanation from Commander Can’t-Take-A-Hint on how I absolutely could handle it on my own. I paid $11 and left, wishing the cool employee I’m used to had been there. He always plays Mr. Fix-It for me.

I went into the Supercenter across the street for other necessities. Hmm… Iiiii wonder… I checked out their automotive department. The same thingamajig? $8. I wouldn’t have minded paying the extra three bucks for the part if the dude who’d sold it to me had also installed it for me, but, since he didn’t I bought the cheaper one.

I went back to the automotive store. A different unknown male associate emerged. I plunked down the object, along with receipt. “I’d like to return this.”

Guy did his thing with the computer, little box on monitor opened.

Guy said “Phone number, please?”

I said “I don’t give that out.”

Guy informed me he couldn’t do a return without a phone number. “It’s against our ‘policy’” he said.

I informed him it’s against my policy to give my number out.

“I need a number” he insisted.

“Put in your number then!” I snapped.

“I’m not going to put in my number” he snapped back.

Guy and I stared each other down. Guy and I simultaneously had the same thought; he vocalized it. “Just make up a number.”

I did. Machine rejected it. Guy looked at me expectantly. I held a finger up and told him to wait. I unpocketed my cell phone, jumped to my contacts list. Ahhahaha I got it! I rattled off the number of the Albemarle County Police Department. Guy punched it in. We watched the screen. Little box vanished, bigger box with a name and other information appeared.

I. About. Fell. On. The. Floor.

Guess which name it was.

John Baber.

As in Albemarle’s JADE Task Force Officer Sgt. John Baber. Exactly him. Of all the officers in all the ACPD, him!

And this occurred in, like, Crotch Dust County, Va. Far, far away from John Baber territory. Seriously, what are the chances of this happening to me?

Y’know what ices this even more bizarrely funny cake? Neither employee at either store gave me the correct part.