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Woe are those who work with the public? Here, Darien recounts experiences at a gas station, Dave recounts experiences at a grocery store, and eventually the conversation leads quite naturally into World War II.

* Dave checks to see if he's found any aliens or new prime numbers yet
Dave: Darn, they're server must be down. My machine is trying to get a new datafile, but it can't. :-(
Wolf: I'll bet on finding a new Mersenne prime before finding an alien.
Dave: Considering Mersenne primes have already been found and aliens haven't, and considering we know for a fact there are other Mersenne primes waiting to be found, I'd have to agree with that statement.
Darien: I'll bet on finding both of them at exactly the same time before I'll bet on finding a customer who won't blame the help if his credit card gets declined. :-P
Dave: Really? I never blame anyone. I just dig out a different card.
Ellmyruh: I had to do that today. My credit card company never sent me a bill so it was past due.
Dave: I hate that.
Dave: Credit cards suck.
Dave: I need to cancel some of mine.
Darien: Every single person who comes through my station will yell at us and make sure we understand perfectly that "that card worked yesterday" or that he "just used it somewhere else" or some suchlike meaningless garbage. And the people who yell at us for not taking their food stamps are even worse.
Wolf: Just send them to me, I'll take care of them. Heh heh.
Dave: hehehe. I can't say as I've ever had that experience. I have had the people try to come through and buy beer and cigarettes with their foodstamps and then get pissed when you tell them that's not legal.
Dave: Also, the people who are with under-age people and trying to buy beer. In NH, you had to legally card ALL of them, and if they couldn't all produce ID (or if any of them were underage) you couldn't sell to them. That caused quite a few shouting matches.
Dave: Then there was the time when the French Canadian girls came into the store where I worked at to buy beer. The woman purchasing the alcohol calmly produced an ID. "This says you're 16," the cashier said.
Dave: She was pissed we wouldn't sell to her or her friends--and none of them were even 18. They couldn't even buy beer in their OWN country, why did they think they could buy it here, where the age is higher??
Darien: Diplomatic immunity? :-}
Darien: Neither is nearly so fun as the people who try to buy cigarettes without IDs, though.
Darien: Here, we're required to card anyone under twenty-seven who tries to buy cigarettes. I just can't understand what makes people think that I want to risk my job and my apartment and my ability to eat just to spare them the convenience of carrying their DRIVER'S LICENCES when they're DRIVING. :-P
Dave: Same here. I was never a cashier, but I was a bagger and had to stand and listen to a lot of that stuff. I often had to act as peacemaker, trying to explain to the irate jerkwads why we couldn't sell to them.
Ellmyruh: A while back I carded a girl for alcohol, and she had colored her driver's license. She turned 21 in 1998, and she colored part of it in to look like 1993. It was so fake, and of course the math didn't add up right. She tried to argue for about 5 seconds. I then asked if she still wanted the 2-liter of 7-Up. :-)
Darien: My favourite part, though, is when they say "I'm twenty-seven; you don't have to card me." :-}
Dave: Hehehe
Wolf: Why 27? That's a rather odd cut-off point.
Darien: Because it's Massachusetts. It's a rather odd state.
Ellmyruh: We had to card if they looked under 30. I used to tell people who got annoyed, "Well, be glad that I'm not SURE you look way over the age of 30!"
Dave: Yeah, we had some ridiculously high cut-off age, like 36 or something. It was dumb. We just carded everyone. Even old ladies. The old ladies loved it.
Dave: The old men hated it. They'd get pissed beyond belief. But the old women LOVED being carded. :-)
Dave: See, the stupidest part of the law as I understood it was, if you asked for an ID and didn't get one and still sold the beer, you were liable. But if you just never asked for an ID, you weren't liable, at least not for the other members of the party. You were still liable if you sold directly to a minor, but if you didn't ask the other people in the party for IDs, you weren't liable if they turned out to be underage.
* Wolf is glad that the only service-industry job she ever did was "dry cleaner cashier."
Darien: I had some chick come in a while ago who I was pretty sure was old enough, but I asked for her ID, and she screamed at me for carding har when she was twenty-seven and stormed out. And then guess what she did.
Wolf: What did she do?
Darien: She went out and got her mother to come in and yell at me for carding her! It was hilarious. I had a hard time keeping a straight face when I told her that "your daughter may well be twenty-seven, but she lacks a little piece of plastic that says so." :-}
Dave: I don't understand some people. Do they just not understand that the law is there to protect minors? Do they want kids to be able to drink?
Wolf: I think the answer to that is "Yes", because there's a lot of denial that alcohol is harmful.
Darien: What I hate more than anything is when people don't tell me what it is that they want, and then get irate when they don't get the right thing. Like when people ask for "Camels" when they really want "Camel non-filters" or for "GPCs" when they want "GPC Menthol Ultra-Light 100s."
Wolf: Ah, practice civil disobedience and refuse to give them any cigs at all.
Darien: I'd rather practice criminal disobedience and hit them in the head. :-}
Dave: I always refused to handle the cigarettes anyway. I'd make the cashiers go do that, or one of the other baggers. :-)
Dave: I remember once these two drunk people came into the store and tried to buy beer just before closing time.
Dave: They were staggering drunk, and yet they thought they could get away with buying the beer. Well, we not only refused to buy them the beer, the night manager took down their licence plate and called the cops on them.
Dave: They got busted for DWI about ten miles down the road.
Darien: That rules. :-}
Dave: The next day, they cops had to take statements from the night manager to use as evidence. One of the questions was "How could you tell they were drunk?"
Dave: The night manager said, "Well, the woman crashed into the beer cooler, and the guy almost fell over putting the beer on the counter to pay for it."
Dave: That was pretty much enough. :-)
Wolf: Funny, they were sober enough to remember to pay for their purchase.
Darien: You'd be surprised. The drunks tend to be better at that than the sobers. They'll count the $16.75 in change that they give us to pay for their munchies two or three times, even. :-}
Darien: I had this one drunk and stoned kid come in around two o'clock one morning and shove and shove on the pull door (there's one door that pulls open and one that pushes), then finally pull on it, stagger over to the counter, and say, "Door doesn't open." It was great. :-}
Dave: Did he try to buy beer? :-)
Darien: We don't sell beer. We just sell Phillies to all the potheads.
Dave: Phillies?
Dave: Oh right, Massachusettes. You have to go to a liquor store for everything, huh?
Dave: Or do you just not sell it at your store?
Darien: Little blunt cigars that can be hollowed out and filled with something other than tobacco. And, no, we could sell alcohol if we wanted to (we'd need a liquor licence, but we could). We choose not to sell it because it's a hassle.
Dave: I can never remember if it's Maine that has the "Any place can sell booze with a licence" law or if it's Mass.
Dave: I thought one of them had the "Any place" law and one of them had the "Liquor store only" law.
Ellmyruh: Hm. I can't think of a store or gas station (besides some health food stores) around here that doesn't sell alcohol. It might be a hassle, but the pay off is more than worth it.
Darien: No, anywhere can sell in Mass with a licence. It's one of our ver few non-completely-restrictive laws.
Darien: And we are one of the few gas stations that don't sell alcohol.
Dave: In New Hampshire, you can only legally sell beer and wine in supermarkets or convenience stores.
Dave: Everything else is controlled by the state liquor stores.
Dave: And let me tell you, that used to REALLY tick off the tourists who weren't aware of that.
Dave: They'd come in at 6:30 on a Saturday and go looking for hard liquor.
Dave: Then they'd come up and ask, "Where's the whiskey?" or something like that.
Dave: Then you'd have the distinct "pleasure" of telling them that you can only buy hard liquor at a State Liquor Store in NH, and every store in the state closed at 6 and won't be open again until Monday. :-)
Ellmyruh: They aren't open on Sundays?
Dave: Nope.
Dave: We couldn't sell beer and wine before 9am on Sundays, either.
Ellmyruh: You know, that makes sense. People who go to a gas station go there to put gas in their car. Why should they need alcohol?
Darien: Why would people come in and try to buy cigarettes and not have an ID?
Ellmyruh: Darien: Good question. My roommate used to forget her ID all the time. Once she went wine tasting (that's a couple of hours away) and "forgot her ID." In other words, she forgot her "driver's license," which is illegal.
Darien: Even if I understood the attraction of getting drunk, which I don't, I wouldn't understand going on vacation and getting drunk.
Dave: I remember going down to the Bahamas and seeing all the American tourists sitting at the bars drinking. I'm thinking "Hell, you can do that back in the States -- what on EARTH made you come down here just to get drunk?"
Darien: Ellmyruh: Exactly my point.
Darien: Dave: Exactly my point. :-}
Ellmyruh: Come to think of it, she called it her driver's license if she had it with her. Otherwise, it was just her "ID."
Ellmyruh: Dave: Yeah, all you get for a vacation are a few fuzzy memories and some shaky snapshots. People are stupid.
Dave: I've also heard conflicting stories about whether you should be honest with an officer when he asks the "Do you know why I pulled you over?" question.
Dave: One theory I've heard is that you should always play dumb, because they're just trying to get you to incriminate yourself so you can't fight the ticket later.
Dave: The other theory I heard first-hand from my brother-in-law. He said you should tell the truth, because the cop will be so damned shocked he'll let you go. It actually worked for him. :-)
Darien: I suppose it depends on the cop.
Ellmyruh: I heard that if he skips that question and just asks for your license, you can get out of the ticket by saying that he never told you why he pulled you over.
Dave: And I've always heard that if you ask to see the radar gun and he won't show it to you, you can get out of the ticket. But I still don't know what to believe about that, either.
Darien: That's almost definitely untrue. Sounds very similar to "If you ask if he's a cop, he has to say yes."
Dave: Right. Which is what I always thought.
Dave: Besides, they have a ton of other ways of clocking you. By airplane, for example.
Ellmyruh: Here's something I don't understand: At the busy intersections, we've got cameras to bust people when they go through red lights. However, they don't seem to do much good. There are signs saying that it's a $270 fine, and people still go right through the red lights all the time.
Dave: We've got those in Boulder, too. I got my picture taken once when I was halfway through a yellow light when it changed. I didn't get a ticket. *shrug*
Ellmyruh: Well, once you're over the line on a yellow, you're supposed to go.
Darien: They probably don't enforce it very strongly. Last I checked, only one of every five or ten of the people caught like that actually gets ticketed.
Ellmyruh: Nope, not here. They mailed out something like 1200 tickets in two months. People tried to appeal, saying it wasn't marked properly, but the judge overturned it. They had to pay.
Dave: My sister lost her wallet one time, and before she could get her licence replaced, she got pulled over.
Dave: The cop asked for her licence, and she said, "I lost it."
Dave: The cop gets this puzzled look on his face, then says, "Ma'am, did you lose your licence or just misplace it?"
Dave: So she finally realizes what she just said, and says, "Oh no no no! I misplaced it! I just haven't been able to get another one yet!"
Dave: I think the cop was actually a little upset. He probably thought that was going to be his easiest bust of the month. ;-)
Wolf: Hm. She didn't get one of those temporary paper licenses you can get instantly from the driving bureau?
Dave: I don't know. I'm not even certain they have those in NH. After all, it's kind of a backwards state. :-)
Wolf: Hey, Sam calls NH "conservative".
Dave: Backwards, conservative -- there's not really much difference when you get right down to it.
Darien: Yup, pretty much. You get backwards and conservative, or you get restrictive and liberal.
Wolf: "Restrictive and liberal" would be polar opposites.
Darien: Wolf: They'd sound like it, wouldn't they? Come to Massachusetts some time and see how well they go together.
Dave: Wolf: Not in Massachusettes. The legislation is "restrictive" so that the "liberals" can legislate liberalism.
Dave: On the other hand, New Hampshire is insanely conservative, and most of their legislation is very hands-off. No seat-belt law, no motorcycle helmet law, no state income tax, no state sales tax...
Wolf: No state income tax or sales tax sounds great to me....
Ellmyruh: No income tax or sales tax?! NH, here I come!
Dave: In fact, NH people on the most part hate government of all kinds except for local town-meeting style government where they can actually go and complain in person.
Ellmyruh: Sounds like Davis, which is often called The People's Republic of Davis.
Wolf: So where do they get the monies from the fund state projects like repaving highways and building playgrounds and stuff? Tourists?
Dave: They have a bunch of hidden taxes, and major heavy-duty property taxes (both local and now state).
Dave: And yes, tourists as well.
Dave: There are business income taxes and the like to leech off the people who cater to the tourists.
Wolf: Hidden tax. Swell.
Dave: Yeah, but most of them were on businesses.
Dave: But NH has an 8 percent room and meals tax (so you pay tax on hotel rooms or anytime you go to a restaurant).
Dave: Personally, I always thought it would be best to just have $100 tolls at the borders.
Wolf: Coming or leaving? :-)
Ellmyruh: Well, Oregon doesn't have sales tax, but the property taxes are higher. And as soon as you cross the border from California to Oregon, the roads suddenly get worse.
* Ellmyruh clicks on the "Explode" button...
Ellmyruh has left.
* Jimmy_Of_York explodes
Dave: Sales tax has been the thing that has taken the most getting used to here in Colorado.
Dave: I remember in NH, we had "Dollar Stores," where everything in the store cost a dollar.
Dave: We used to call them "Junk for a Buck."
Dave: Then you go over the border to Maine, and it became "Junk for a Buck-five," because of taxes.
Darien: Massachusetts is so liberal it's stupid. It's impossible to do anything in this state without violating some ridiculous law. There has been a law passed in Massachusetts making it illegal to insult people. Specifically, making it illegal for schoolyard bullies to pick on the other kids. They can get jail time for that!
Darien: Can I be blunt for a moment? I lose twenty percent of my income in taxes. Twenty percent. I'd rather lose less than that to taxes that are less obvious, to be perfectly honest.
Dave: Don't feel too bad -- the more you make, the more they take. I lose almost 40% to taxes. :-(
Dave: I just get really irate thinking about how almost half of what I make disappears before I even get a chance to think about it.
Wolf: You guys don't even want to know what Your Typical Canadian loses to Tax.
Dave: Yes I do. Make me feel better.
Wolf: Most provinces require citizens to pay something like 34-53% of their gross income directly at the government at the municipal, provincial, AND federal levels. Yeesh.
Dave: So you pay over 100%?
Wolf: No, all together, including some hidden taxes, it works out to 53%.
Dave: I've heard it's even worse in England, where you can pay upwards of 70 or 80%.
Darien: Yup. Bigger government sucks up more money. England, France, Italy...
Dave: That's why famous British rock bands like Queen became tax refugees.
Wolf: And now live in the States?
Dave: Actually, Queen used to travel around. I'm not sure where they called "home," but they'd live and work for most of the year outside of Britain to avoid the insane taxes.
Lelio: Ah. Tax. I'm in Australia, and we have...about, forty percent income, and a ten percent GST.
Dave: What I don't get is how a person can live in New Hampshire, which has no state income tax, and work in Massachusettes and have to pay Mass state tax. That's robbery.
Dave: The NH residents get NOTHING from Mass state tax. They're not even allowed to VOTE in Mass.
Dave: I believe that's called "taxation without representation"--a little something known as tyranny, which we fought a war over once upon a time.
* Dave thinks it would be super cool if NH went to war with Mass.
* Darien thinks war with New Hampshire would be cool, too. Except that he'd have to defect.
Lelio: They would use things like Mass roads, Mass police, and so forth, though...
Dave: So? So do the people who come in as tourists -- they don't have to pay Mass income taxes.
Lelio: Lucky tourists.
Darien: I said it before -- more government eats more money. Whether it makes sense or not. Can you tell me why a can of Skoal chewing tobacco costs $5.28 here when it costs $1.80 other places? 400% tobacco tax, anyone?
Dave: Of all the taxes in the world, I think insane taxes on cigarettes and liquor are the only ones I agree 100% with. :-)
Darien: That's not the point. :-}
Dave: If it were up to me, I'd get rid of the national debt by enacting a 10,000% tax on cigarettes. Then invading any country that near us that sold them for less. :-)
Darien: Hehee. I'd definitely reduce the debt by conquering the world, m'self.
Darien: I'll take possession of my creditors. How could that plan possibly fail?
Dave: I'm all for the Dogbert idea.
Darien: What's that?
Dave: Get a credit card from every bank in the world. Then, do a simultaneous cash withdrawal on every one. Enact a world-wide lottery prize for the money, and everyone who supported me as Supreme Dictator and Ruler For Life would get a free ticket. :-)
Darien: Heh. I'd still rather just conquer them all.
Dave: But conquering can be so messy. Often there's nothing left to RULE over when you're done.
Dave: And where's the fun in that?
Darien: Destruction is fun. And I'm sure I could find something left in the whole world to rule over. I mean, maybe just a toad or a snail or a native village or some such...
Dave: Or France. They'd just give up anyway.
Darien: That's kind of the same as a toad, really.
Darien: I mean, they eat snails there. Toads eat snails, don't they?
Dave: I guess.
Dave: What you need is a country that just rolls over and dies when you attack and celebrates when your tanks roll down their capital city's streets.
Dave: Like, say, Italy.
Dave: But the only thing the French are good at that is war-related is resisting occupation. So that might not be so fun.
Darien: Nah, they're just good at pretending they were resisting afterwards. I mean, they're strategically inept -- they built that silly Maginot line, didn't they? How much did they spend on that? And what did the Germans do? They WENT AROUND the stupid thing.
Dave: Right. Because Hitler had read a history book once about World War I. Nobody in France apparently had.
Dave: So Hitler was like, "I'll just go through Belgium--seemed to work before."
Dave: And the French were like, "He'll never go through Belgium. They're NEUTRAL!!!"
Dave: Even though that's exactly what the Kaiser had done 35 years before.
Dave: It still blows my mind that anybody ever once thought that Hitler might actually respect a country like BELGIUM'S neutrality. I mean, COME ON. They're right on the damn way to Paris, and they have some kick butt ports. Of COURSE he was coming through!
Darien: Yup. Too bad Hitler hadn't read a book on the Napoleonic wars, though.
Darien: Well, I mean, too bad for him.
Darien: The other things that amuse me are that people ever thought they'd stop with half of Czecholslovakia. Or that the threat of -- ooo, the British! -- would stop him from invading Belgium. :-P
Dave: Right.
Dave: I guess I'm equally amazed that Hitler ever thought it was a good idea to attack Russia.
Darien: Which is what I mean about the Napoleonic wars. Or that he didn't realize that NEVER in ALL OF HISTORY has ANYONE won a two-front war. But it wasn't all his fault...
Dave: "Let's do just what Napoleon did and rush on across the steppes and get caught in the middle of a BRUTAL Russian winter and all die!" "Good idea, mein fuhrer!"
Darien: ...the Russians were about to attack Germany. And he decided to take the initiative. And that probably would have worked, had he left it at skirmishing and not tried to sack Stalingrad and Leningrad.
Dave: Well, the whole two-front war thing he knew about--his mistake was opening the Eastern front before making sure the Western front war was finished. Basically, he wrote off the British and didn't think the Americans would get involved.
Darien: Right. Which was a mistake. Probably one that wouldn't have hurt the Germans so hard had they not stopped bombing London.
Dave: He should have waited until he could mount an invasion of Britain. Then the Americans would have had an almost impossible time penetrating onto the continent without the bases in Britain to work from.
Dave: His other mistake was sending Mussolini to protect his southern flank.
Dave: The man couldn't even conquer ZIMBABWE for heaven's sake.
Darien: Yup. Or he should have kept up the bombings. They were shattering the British morale. But the British rally like nobody else -- when the bombings stopped, they went for revenge.
Dave: Ethiopia, I mean. Even worse.
Darien: Heh. Mussolini couldn't even conquer a country that elected him dictator. :-P
Darien: And the Russians had this annoying habit of storming into capitals after the Americans had conquered the countries and claiming the victories for the good ol' USSR. :-P
Dave: They also had the annoying habit of not bothering to LEAVE once they conquered a country, too. "Nope, we're here, it's ours." :-)
Darien: Rommel was doing quite a job in Africa, though. Right up until he started losing, anyway. :-}
Dave: Yeah, that's always how it goes, isn't it?
Dave: You're a hero until you start losing. :-)
Darien: Not always. Italy, for example, sucked the whole time.
Dave: Actually, I think having Italy as an "ally" and not just conquering them outright and making them a puppet nation like Vichy France was a big mistake.
Darien: I dunno. It turned out to be. I think Hitler misjudged Mussolini's leadership ability. And the morale of an ally is generally much better than that of a puppet.
Dave: But -- it's Italy. They haven't been any good in war since the heyday of Rome several thousand years ago.
Dave: Couldn't they have at least picked a better ally?
Darien: The Japanese economy has been going downward lately. I wonder how they'll be in a couple years, once we stop defending their country for them. :-}
Dave: The Japanese--now there were some good allies.
Darien: Yup. Overzealous, though.
Dave: Nothing better than a bunch of people who will fight to the last man for a tiny scrap of land in the middle of the ocean.
Dave: Those are guys you definitely want on your side. :-)
Darien: Erm. A bunch of people who will do that but have the sense not to bring the only remaining power into the war before it's necessary would be preferable.
Dave: Well, true.
Dave: But for some reason Hitler didn't think the Americans would declare war on Germany after the bombing.
Dave: He thought we'd waste our time killing a bunch of Japanese people.
Darien: Probably because that would mean the Americans were opening a second front. :-}
Dave: He also thought the Japanese would actually destroy the entire Pacific fleet -- which they nearly did, but close only counts in horseshoes.
Darien: Eh. They weren't even as close as they thought. Not as much of the fleet was in Pearl Harbor as was publicly thought.
Dave: What I don't get is why the Japanese stopped with Pearl Harbor.
Dave: If they'd continued bombing places in the US, especially on the west coast of the mainland, they might have done what they set out to do in the first place.
Darien: Maybe. Or maybe Truman would've paved the whole silly country instead of blasting just two cities. :-}
Dave: I love Dave Barry's take on that.
Darien: How's that go?
Dave: We dropped the bomb on Hiroshima "to save countless American and Japanese lives that would be lost in a brutal invasion and to show the world the devastating power of the new weapon that would make war obsolete."
Dave: And we dropped the bomb on Nagasaki because, "Hey, we had a second bomb."
Darien: I think it had something to do with getting rid of all those crappy import cars.

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