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Taking Poetic License (Plate) With The Truth

| Working | August 20, 2013

(My family and I are going on vacation, driving several hours through three states. From our many road trips I have developed a hobby of trying to see all 50 states’ license plates, with a little booklet to mark off each state. At a gas station we’ve stopped at for a break, I see an incredibly rare Hawaii plate, and stop in front of it to check it off in my booklet. I think nothing of it, but when I catch up to my family in the store, I notice the cashier giving me the evil eye while she speaks to someone on the phone.)

Cashier: “Don’t move.”

Me: *extremely startled* “What? Why? Is there a bee on me again?!”

Cashier: “No, I’m waiting for the cops to get here.”

Me: “The cops? But… why?”

Cashier: “You’re gonna steal that car there.”

Me: “Car? What car?”

(My mom notices the conversation and the hostile tone, and comes up to me.)

Mom: “Is everything all right? I gave you enough money for this, didn’t I?”

Me: “Yeah, but—”

Cashier: “Your little thief of a daughter here is going to steal that car there.”

Mom: “Steal a car?! What car?!”

Cashier: “The car she stopped and checked out over there. She wrote down the license plate so she can hotwire it and steal it! I called the cops!”

Me: “But I just—”

Cashier: “Just wanted to steal a nice fancy car for yourself, huh? Entitled little b***** teenagers, thinking everything’s theirs and they don’t have to face consequences! Well guess what, sweetie, you just ruined the whole day for everyone; you’re going to jail! You’ll make your mommy and daddy very mad and the cops will lock you away forever!”

Mom: “That is no way to treat a customer!”

Cashier: “I don’t have to be polite to little s*** car-thieves!”

Mom: “And how dare you accuse my daughter of trying to steal a car! No, worse, you just think she’ll try to steal a car with no evidence!”

Cashier: “Oh, I have evidence alright. Look in that little black book of hers; she wrote the license plate down to steal it!”

(The cashier reaches over and rips my state booklet out of my hands.)

Me: “Give that back! It’s mine!”

Cashier: “Just like that car is yours? Ha!”

(The cashier flips it open and sees the page for license plates.)

Cashier: “Aha! I knew it! See here, the license plate!”

(The cashier shoves the booklet in my mom’s face, pointing to the little space for Hawaii. In it I had written the date in the form YYYY.MM.DD.)

Cashier: “And look at all the other plates! She’s stolen all those too! The cops are going to be here very soon, and your daughter is going to jail!”

Me: “That’s not a license plate! It’s the date!”

Cashier: “Yeah, right.”

(In the distance, we hear police sirens. Seconds later, several cops come rushing into the gas station.)

Cashier: “About time! This little w**** was going to steal that car! She wrote the plate down! And she stole all these other cars, all listed here!” *waves my booklet around*

Officer: “A car thief? Did you see her attempt to steal it?”

Cashier: “No, but she was obviously going to after she left! She wrote the plate down!”

Officer: “Can I see that book?”

Cashier: “Of course! And then you can arrest her for stealing all these cars, all the plates are right there!”

Officer: “These don’t look like no license plate numbers. Wait—” *turns to me* “Are these dates?”

Me: “Y-yes. I track all the state license plates I’ve seen, and I write the date I first saw it. The car out there had a Hawaii plate; that’s why it’s got today’s date. See?”

Officer: “You’re right.” *turns back to cashier* “What made you think she was going to steal a car?”

Cashier: “Well, she… she wrote the plate down! She was going to steal it so she wrote the plate down!”

Officer: “These are dates, not license plate numbers.”

Cashier: “Then she writes down the date she steals them! She’s a thief! A no-good rotten teenage s*** stealing everything!”

(The cashier continues to hurl insults as the police handle it. After a while, my family are finally able to get back on the road. I never do get my soda or candy bar, and we specifically make sure to never stop there again.)

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