Friday, October 20, 2006


I mail a lot of packages. Let's get that out there right off the bat. Being an active book trader, barterbee user, and yahoo auction seller, I have to mail a lot of stuff. Needless to say, I make a trip to the downtown Minneapolis post office in the Roanoake Building at least weekly. Most of the time I have the same clerk, but last week I had someone that must have been filling in, and in attempting to do her job, showed her complete lack of metal faculties.

Just as usual, after all of my packages get marked up and have appropriate postage assigned, the clerk tells me my total for the eight packages I brought in. Again, like usual, I hand over my debit card (I don't carry hardly any cash and don't usually keep my checkbook with me). She turns it over to the back and tells me she can't accept it.

"Why not?"

"It says 'See ID' on the signature strip. You're supposed to sign there."

"Don't you just check my ID? That's what every other place I go to does."

She looks at me with a you're-crap-outta-luck look and tells me, "I'm sorry sir, we only can accept cards that are signed. It's a security measure."

"Excuse me, miss, think about it for a second. Checking my ID to make sure it matches my card is actually an added security check. That way, I couldn't have stolen someone's card and either done my best to copy their signature or, if it was a fresh card, signed the name in my handwriting so it matches. If I was a thief I would have had to not only have stolen the debit card, but stolen the ID as well."

She still has that vacant that's-too-many-words-for-my-small-brain-to-understand look on her face as she tells me, "Sorry, I just can't do it. Do you have another card?"

"Yes, that I do, but guess what? They all have 'See ID' on them."

"You can pay with cash or check as well."

"I don't have enough cash and don't have my check book."

"You know, you can just sign the card so that way I can take it."

"Wait one second. If I sign the card, right here in front of you, then you'll take it? That's ludicrous."

I don't think she understood and voiced as much, "What do you mean?"

"Well, think about it. If I sign the card now, however I sign the name on the card is obviously going to match how I sign the receipt."

"But if the card is signed I can take it." Her brain must have been getting close to exploding from the sheer amount of common sense I was throwing her way.

"Ok, let me have your pen."

She gives me her pen and after I rub off the 'See ID' that was on the signature strip, I sign my name and hand her the card. She runs it through and hands me the receipt to sign. I do so and hand it back to her.

"Can I see your ID?"

"What for?"

"I need to check it against your debit card."

"No, you don't. It's signed. You don't need to check my ID. Remember how I told you that's why I put 'See ID' on there in the first place? To make you check it against my ID? As an added security measure?"

"I need to check your ID sir."

I glance over at the other cashier and ask her, "Miss, do I need to have my ID checked if my debit card is signed and the signatures match?"

She looks back, grins a little because she's been listening in, and tells me, "No, we don't check IDs if the card is signed."

I glare at the woman who is making my morning a living hell, "Can I have my card now?"

"Ok, here you go."

In a final moment of frustration I have to let something out, "Do you realize the lunacy of what just happened? If this card was stolen I would have just successfully gotten around your 'security measures' and ripped whoever I stole this off from for $20. Policies only work if they're enforced in a way that makes sense. I might have stolen this card and gotten away with it thanks to you. Think about it. You might have just helped me rip someone off. This could very well be a stolen card. You know what, I think I remember now that it was. Huh. And I got away with it. That's great. You made my day. Thank you!"

I don't think her brain could digest the irony of the situation so I left in a huff. The woman cashier next to her was chuckling to herself as I headed out, however, so at least I know there was one competent person working that day.

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