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If the rule is stupid, why accept it?

Please join me in the New Year's anti-stupidity rebellion.

It began when I wrote a check to a friend of mine who tried to cash it at my bank, using the drive-through window.

"Are you a customer here?" asked the clerk.

I would have said something like, "No, Sparkie. I just pulled in under this overhang because I love inhaling the smell of auto exhaust fumes while I watch the winos in the bar parking lot next door arguing over whether the bag should be twisted around the bottle to the left or right."

But my friend, assuming correctly that "customer," meant not just somebody endeavoring to do business with the institution but an actual account holder, short-circuited the process and admitted she wasn't.

"Then," she was told, "you'll have to come inside."

She thought that was stupid, and drove away.

If she had gone inside, she would have found that it was merely so she could be thumbprinted to make sure she wasn't a thief trying to cash my checks. Since they don't do an in-depth thumbprint analysis on the spot it wouldn't keep them from getting ripped off, and, since her thumbprints aren't on file, it wouldn't have helped anyhow.

The whole Fourth Amendment question of the practice is a different matter anyhow, but it just struck me as bad business, even though my bank says it cuts fraud.

But my friend won't be going back.

I made the same decision after a motel told me I couldn't stay there (where I have stayed on business dozens if not hundreds of times) because there was an automatic supposition that I would do something bad, "like use drugs" there (this in a room full of customers) due to my local status. When I asked how far away I had to live, they couldn't tell me. "It's a judgment call," they said.

Okay. You judge I'm a room-trashing drug user and I judge that I'll spend my next $7,000 or $8,000 at a place that doesn't choose to insult me publicly. Works for me.

A co-worker of mine wonders why his "billing number," at his phone company is his telephone number plus four digits. "Since nobody else has my telephone number," he asks, "why do I have to add the four digits?"

So he stopped adding the extra four digits, and, he notes, they still cash his checks.

He and I both also have another question. . . . Why his telephone company won't accept the No. 3, as in, "If you're tired of being on hold and listening to dippy music, please press 3," and mine won't accept the No. 1 under similar circumstances.

The last time I tried to ask my phone company a question it took me 12 calls, one of them long-distance, to find the person to whom I was supposed to ask the question. And another one to my boss to apologize after the phone dork complained that I used bad words in talking to him.

Pull into your nearest pharmacy drive-through sometime for quick, convenient service. If you notice that the car in front of you has a skeleton in the driver's seat and its license plates are three years out of date, you may wish to reconsider your decision.

The next time a fast food (speaking of corporate oxymorons) employee insists that you pull forward, away from the window, so that they can extend equally poor service to the car behind you, refuse. Hold your ground.

The next time a restaurant employee tells you that they no longer accept the credit card that their window sticker says they do, ask them what they are going to do to resolve it, and don't budge until you meet a manager, who appears to be smart enough to operate a single-edged razor blade.

Demand that the bacon bin at the breakfast buffet be filled more than once a day. Insist that the repair department at your auto dealership explain why that fine automobile their sales department sold you needs $271 in service every time you get your oil changed.

Consumers of the world unite.

But don't call me, unless you know what to do after the recording asks you to press 1 if you know my extension.

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