Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.


We are at the supermarket buying groceries. J notices a BUY ONE GET ONE FREE sign, but it requires a club card.

“Do you have a club card?” he asks me.

“Don’t worry,” I respond confidently. “When we get to the checkout, I’ll punch in THE NUMBER.”

What is… THE NUMBER? THE NUMBER helps people without club cards get a discount. THE NUMBER is nmemonic. When handled properly, THE NUMBER protects the privacy of the consumer.

J reaches the checkout before I do. When I finally get in line, he looks over at me.

“I need your club card,” J tells me.

I smile and take a casual walk up to the touchscreen pad. I take the plastic pointer to key in THE NUMBER, but something is amiss. It is requesting a PIN.

“Can’t use the machine anymore,” the clerk says. “What’s your phone number?”

Should I reveal THE NUMBER? Some seconds pass. The customer behind J in line stares impatiently. J looks over at me wondering what the hold-up is. I look the clerk straight in the eyes.

“(123) 456-7890.” I follow up the flourish with a nervous smile. Eyes bulge to my left and right as if we’ve entered a high stakes game of blackjack, and I’m in danger of busting.

The clerk squints. “What was that number again?” Translation: hit or stand?

Hit me. “(123) 456-7890,” I gulp, with an awkward laugh just to clue in the clerk to the awkwardness of the situation.

“I didn’t quite get it,” the clerk says smiling. “One more time.” Double down?

“1-2-3. 4-5-6. 7-8-9-0,” I say methodically. “21” flashes on the monitor before it registers a six dollar discount for J’s groceries. J is satisfied.

The line moves along, and it’s my turn at the checkout. The clerk looks at me again.

“That’s quite THE NUMBER you have.”

I laugh. “Yes, indeed,” I respond, entering it into the touchscreen. A few seconds later, I get the receipt.

There is a name associated with THE NUMBER:


Hmm… perhaps I should call Helen and thank her. After all, I do have her phone number.


One response

  1. Rich

    ok that is simply awesome.

    October 22, 2008 at 5:53 pm

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