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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").



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   upsold at Radio Shack
Monday, December 10 2012
I went into town to take care of some postal business and to get a few groceries (soy milk, peanut butter, corn chips, and beans were the most important of these). I also bought some large PVC fitting that I can use to make a way for me to pressurize the urinal system should it ever get blocked again (as I fully expect it to some time in the year 2015).
While I was there at the Uptown Kingston plaza, I made a rare visit to the Radio Shack, the only local retailer I know of that sells soldering iron points. Every time I walk into a Radio Shack (something I've been doing since the late 1970s), it's like a single frame from a movie of decline and fall. Nobody seems to know why Radio Shack didn't long ago go the way of Pan American World Airways. But as zombie retailers go, Radio Shack is surprisingly tenacious regarding its undeadness. There were zero customers and three employees when I entered the store (which was fully outfitted for the holidays), and, as has been the case since the 1970s, one of them latched onto me immediately and wouldn't let go. I made the mistake of telling him what I wanted, which meant that he took me to what I needed and then hovered like Gretchen's brother watching one of his kids climb an indoor climbing wall. Back when I was a kid, Radio Shack employees were always white guys. But these days they are as likely to be women as men and are disproportionately of Indian (dot not feathers) extraction. The guy waiting on me today, though, was as white as one of the Romney boys, though his complexion was perhaps not as good and his jaw nowhere near as square. Usually on the occasions I go into a Radio Shack, I like to look around and see what exactly Radio Shack sells at those particular snapshots in history. In the past they've promoted stereos, computers, and toys. These days they're mostly about cellphones and the crap that goes with them. But with a hovering employee nearby, it seemed best to conclude my business and get going.
Years ago Radio Shack figured out how irritating it was to ask their customers for all their mailing information every time they try to buy audio jack adapters or blank CDs. They've since come up with an even more irritating checkout protocol: upselling. These days it's impossible to buy anything from Radio Shack without telling the cashier that no you don't want to switch to their awesome cellphone plan. When that sale fell through, I was greeted with a second upsell opportunity: batteries. Buy one pack, get another for free! Radio Shack has always been about selling batteries, and I would have normally been as irritated by this upsale as I'd been about being implored to switch my cellphone plan (this might seem weird: I don't actually have a cellphone plan). But I'd recently taken delivery of a Meade TE923W-M weather station, and it has a bunch of modules that broadcast data back to the mother unit. Each of those modules needs a pair of AA batteries, and I'd completely exhausted my vast supply of rechargeables. So I told the eager young Radio Shack employee, "Actually, I do need batteries." Then I proceeded to pay about $11 for 36 alkaline AA batteries, not knowing whether it was a good deal or not.


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