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Being A Good Customer Doesn’t Require Code-Breaking

, , , | Right | January 27, 2022

It is the 1980s, so I am pretty young. The gas station near my home has just gotten a new car wash. For a while, they tried codes that change once a week. When they discovered that people were remembering these codes and using them for free car washes without paying for them, they changed to the system they have today. In other words, it’s no longer once a week but now a new code per transaction.

Pre-gaming-system, pre-cell-phone kid that I am, I am aware of the world around me and know that this new system has changed recently.

I’m riding in the car with the parent of a friend. She decides to get gas, pay for the car wash, and just drive up and plug in last week’s code instead of printing out the new slip.

Me: “The code isn’t [number] anymore. They changed it.”

Friend’s Parent: “So, what’s the new code?”

Me: “I dunno, you have to ask the cashier.”

Friend’s Parent: “No, the code was [number]. That’s what I’m putting in.”

We pull up to the keypad and she dials in. BIG SURPRISE, no dice. The system doesn’t accept the number. She tries it six times and gets refused each time. Finally, the guy comes out of the office where I guess he was monitoring the system, and he tells her that her number is incorrect and that she needs to put the correct one in.

Friend’s Parent: “No! The code is [number]!”

He goes back to the cashier where she bought the gas. Surprise, surprise, he comes back with a slip for the correct code number that the cashier printed up from her transaction.

Cashier: “Ma’am, this is the new code. It’s going to change every time you get gas.”

Friend’s Parent: “It was [number] last week; it should still accept that code!”

Cashier: “No, ma’am, the system has changed. Use this code.”

She huffed and she puffed and she tried to blow the little pigs’ house down, but the house was made of bricks and would not bow down to her tantrum. Finally, she snatched the slip and angrily punched in the new number. Again, BIG SURPRISE, the CORRECT code DID, INDEED, WORK.

I sat in the back of the car, having witnessed this lovely role model proving that temper tantrums DON’T WORK, and spent some time wondering if I would get swatted for pulling an “I told you so.”

Ultimately, I kept my mouth shut, thus proving that at the tender age of seven, I was more mature than the forty-something-year-old woman driving the car.

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