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These Aren’t the Droids You’re Looking For.

April 28, 2011

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Obi-wan Kenobi patented his “Jedi mind trick,” allowing him and his cohorts to pass through a checkpoint of stormtroopers looking for them. He had to explain to a confused Luke Skywalker that he can use “the force” to influence the “weak-minded” and manipulate their decisions, thus manipulating the entire outcome of events.

It has come to my attention in recent weeks that said mind tricks have made their way from the aforementioned distant galaxy into our own, specifically to Richmond, VA; where I am Jedi-mind tricked on almost a daily basis. In fact, when I sit down at the end of the day and rehash its happenings (OK, lying on couch during a commercial break), part of my routine is to identify the “Jedi” who temporarily brainwashed me so I can be ready for them next time. Thankfully, these local Jedi don’t have lightsabers and can’t use the force to move objects, but they can temporarily hypnotize me into paying twice what I originally allotted for goods and services that are non-essential.

For example, I went to Jiffy Lube today. My oil light had been flickering, and I couldn’t get an appointment at my usual place, so I stopped in for the $41.99 service–just needed an oil change and told the lady I wanted to be in and out in 20 minutes. When I got home, I saw a receipt for $101.74. Then it started to come back to me. I was sitting there, drinking my complimentary coffee, when I saw them take every filter out of my car (and probably someone else’s car, too) and lay them on the counter for me to evaluate (like I know wtf a worn filter looks like). What Rational Dan (the summation of my cognitive abilities) was screaming to Interactive Dan (the mouthpiece for the dominant personality at the time) was “HEY. They just pulled this out of this machine you park outdoors. It’s dirty, its supposed to be dirty. You got your filter replaced like 10k miles ago, don’t worry about it.” Unfortunately, Rational Dan had been paralyzed by the Jedi mind-trick. Interactive Dan, who has no cognitive responsibilities (much like Tequila Dan, Concert Dan, and Sleeping Dan) immediately ordered the replacement of the well-functioning filter with the shitty, aftermarket Jiffy Lube filter. Not able to see Rational Dan beating his head against the wall and screaming for help, Interactive Dan was also shown his windshield wiper blades. When asked what they looked like to him, and with Rational Dan paralyzed by the Jedi-mind trick, Interactive Dan replied with, “it looks like a windshield wiper blade.” The lovely gentleman went on to explain that they looked faded and worn, and that my visibility in inclement weather was similar to Helen Keller’s in normal weather. “Replace them!”, cried Rational Dan. I was adamant when I walked in that I only wanted the $41.99 service and I wanted to be out in a “jiffy.” Even as I was signing my receipt, it hadn’t dawned on me that Anakin Smoothtalker had used the force to get me to spend an additional $60. What was that about the weak minded?

Jedi-mind tricks are also a favorite of co-workers and backoffice support. One particular woman, we’ll call her “Darth Violet,” uses her black magic on me so often that she’s nearly achieved the greatest ruse of all: convincing me that there is no ruse, and that I’m just crazy. “Hi Violet. I need a form faxed to me, can you send it please? I have a client waiting.” Pause. Fake static. Crumpling Doritos bag. Cell phone ring. “No he dihinnnnnn.” “Can you hold, sir.” “I’ve been holding.” “Sir, please continue to hold…” “Maam I just need a…” Automated hold. “Thank you for waiting. Your time is valuable. Thank you for your patience and a professional will be right with you.” I’m so angry at this point, I slam down the phone, loosen my tie, and lament the 5 minutes of my life I’m not getting back. Hell, I even forgot why I called.  A professional? I just spoke to some sort of animal– crunching chips on the phone, talking on her cell phone, all the while putting her 6,000 calorie diet and sex-life, I shutter to think, ahead of me and my client, both of whom pay her salary. Then it occurred to me– I hung up. She never left her desk–she knew she wouldn’t have to. The force is strong with that one.

I was at Lowe’s recently, looking for a dimmer switch for a light, when I approached an electrician/Jedi…we’ll call him Obi-Juan. “We don’t carry it.” “Well, you see I saw it on the website and I feel like this is pretty common and something you guys have,” I said.  He waved his hand across my face and proclaimed, “I know this store like I know my own wife. We don’t carry it.” So I went home, got the SKU number and called it in. Obi-Juan must spend as much time with his wife as Tiger did with Elin in 2009 because they had 18 in stock. However amazed I was by his ignorance, I was more amazed at the way I acquiesced to it. Despite knowing full well that Obi-Juan had no idea what he was talking about, I took his word for it and walked away. Just like the stormtroopers who saw the droids they were very clearly looking for, they “moved along.”

Like vampires or communists, we often brush shoulders with Jedi and don’t even know…until it’s too late. Our money is gone. Our problems remain unsolved. Yet, someone is taking our money. Someone is passing along our problems. May the force be with you…because it is absolutely with them.

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