Monday, September 17, 2007

Euroshopping II

Hmmm.... learn about retinal scotomas ... goof off in the business center .... Hmmmmm.....

I recently held Fun Night II in our lab, featuring Spinal Tap followed by poker. Before then, I asked Thorsten (a Bremen native) from our lab to take me to the nearest huge supermarket for supplies. It was called Real, which Thorsten said was like Wal - Mart. In many ways, this was true. Very large, lot of variety, bad floor tiles, mostly low end stuff. Inside was like a mini strip mall, with an optometrist, food shops, video rental, the usual. Thorsten asked if it was like an American Wal - Mart. No, I said, because of no weapons.

"You can buy a gun at Wal - Mart?" he asked.

"Yes. In fact you are required to buy one with every purchase."

"Ha ha! No, you are not!" (Thorsten is not easily fooled.)

"OK. But they do have guns."

"Pistols?"

"Yes."

"Shotguns?"

"Yes."

"Machine guns?"

"No. But they have crossbows."

"What?!"

"Crossbow, and a bow and arrow."

"You can buy all these at Wal-Mart?"

"Yes. And ammunition, and scopes, and everything you need. And grenade launchers."

"Stop being like that. But you can really get ammunition?"

"Yes. You can go to Wal Mart and get everything you need to shoot anything you want."

Pause. "What if you try to buy more than one gun?"

"Fine. They will be happy."

The conversation trailed off, but made me think. Was I right? How many guns could you actually buy at Wal-Mart? This could be a really interesting sociological study, and might be a cute hidden camera move. What would happen if someone tried to buy all the guns in a Wal - Mart? The challenge is to get enough purchasing power, ideally cash, to appear credible. Easily in the high tens of thousands. Otherwise, they will ignore you. Money talks, and bullshit walks.

That is not literally true, actually. I tested this in Colorado, a state which has at least plenty of the latter. After extensive observation, neither part of the old expression is true. Instead, the money will eventually blow away, and the bullshit becomes harder. But it then makes an effective paperweight.

Also, money walks too. When I arrived in Bremen, one Euro was worth about 1.35 dollars. Now, due largely to the subprime lending crisis, it is almost 1.4. Never before have I been so encouraged to root for American financial catastrophe. Go, mortgage scammers! What about the death tax? We should add an apologetic antitax, to give massive tax breaks to the rich to express how bad we feel for having had the death tax for so long. What the fuck is up with Iran?! They are getting nukes, and we just sit here? Bomb em! Let's bomb Venezuela too! But, of course, we only want catastrophes that somehow don't significantly affect the Euro market.

Back to the plan. The stunt will fail without money to generate credibility. Assume also you have a white guy, speaking perfect english, dressed in a suit, with a gun permit, with nothing remotely suspicuous about him. He goes in, with a shopping cart, fills it up to overflowing with several dozen guns, then goes nonchalantly through checkout. To add to the fun, have a couple similar guys behind him with full carts. Now, this should at least draw a question from the checkout dude. I would hope they would call a manager, and probe a bit as to goals. You might think someone would call a cop, or perform a background check, but this is already assumed since you have a gun permit. It's just a scaling issue; one gun or hundreds? Avoid discussion, be perfectly polite, but provide no hint of why you want the guns. And, again, to keep the pressure on Wal Mart, keep flashing LOTS of cash. See if you can pull it off. Or, on what grounds would they refuse the sale?


Possible variants:

Don't be white, and/or speak with an accent. Perhaps make one up. Perhaps, if multiple buyers are involved, make everyone different. Wear different clothes, such as camo gear, a full sari/sarong or Bushman loincloth with spear (if white), toga, Napoleonic French marshal uniform, or a bear costume.

Rather than avoiding all discussion of why you want all these guns, come up with some answer that is either silly and transparent (well, lot of deer out there! or I needed some nice looking paperweights) or complete nonsequitir (Did you know the brain has thousands of neurons? or Snap! Crackle! Pop!) or vaguely threatening but thoroughly mad (I need them because of all the ants! or Did you know most Mormons have guns? or People keep making fun of me or I don't know, I just get so frustrated when people won't sell me things.... so I'm good to go, right?)

Have a facial tic.

Ask really inane questions about your purchase. How many Joules are produced with each shot? Can this rifle support my truck? Can you eat gunpowder if you are really hungry? Do you have pistols for dogs? No, no, don't be silly, I mean, pistols that dogs can fire? Could this bullet penetrate the codpiece on my plate mail at 300 yards? No? Whew! I'll take it, then.

If you see any Chinese people in your line or nearby lines, ask what they think of Taiwanese nationalism. Regardless of their answer, say that you need good people in your group.

In addition to buying all the guns, also buy out something seemingly irrelevant (eg, not survival gear or copies of Guns and Ammo.) All shampoo. All Teletubbies. All copies of People magazine. All tampons. All romance novels. All yellow toys.

If buying guns with someone else, argue frequently with him in a nonexistant foreign language. Get really angry, then suddenly both start whispering, then nod knowingly.

Laugh whenever they ask why you need the guns. But not a sinister laugh - a joyous, grand belly laugh. If the sale is completed, jump up and down and say, Now we'll see who laughs last!

1 comment:

Anne said...

When I was in Bremen, Real WAS Wal-Mart, at least in until December or so - I don't know when they changed it. Sketchiest Wal-Mart I've ever seen. We wanted to buy a bike tire pump, and you actually had to leave the store and go to a completely different section. Damn thing didn't even work. How's ol' Bremen doin, anyway?