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I Got A Rock

Today was like the weirdest. Did I win some retail sweepstakes or something? Check this out. I have been looking for an excuse to buy an iPod for myself … forever. I have bought them for others, but couldn’t justify buying one for myself. I mean … why, since I always have my laptop and Internet playing radioio.com anyway? Finally, a good reason – my new car has a built in iPod jack. So, totally justified, right … practically mandatory as I see it …

And you would think it would be relatively painless …

Not so. First I go to my local SuperTarget, assuming it will be a quick in and out. No dice … didn’t have the iPod I wanted. But, the salesperson was nice enough to get on Target’s stellar inventory intranet and reported back that the store in Arlington had two of the units. I rushed over. Guess what. Nopods for I. Still … I am chilled – it only took 45 minutes round trip.

Next stop, the Internet and “Tarzhay.com.” Cool. I found out online that there were two in stock in the nearby metropolis of Burleson, south of Funky Town. It’s just 40 miles or so, round trip. I have new wheels (complete with an unused iPod jack), so “Why not?,” I ask. But, what was it Gomer used to say, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” This time I called ahead. The person on the phone was so, so nice and she personally picked a “pod” off the shelf and put it aside for me, with my name on it and everything (like a cup personalized with a Sharpie at Starbucks). Now, I am feeling like a customer who is loved and appreciated. I hopped in the car and drove fast.

It gets better …

I easily found Target on what I think is my first-ever trip through the town of “Burlesville.” I think Target was the pulse of the city. This is a good thing. I walked in and quickly, they find my reserved merchandise on the shelf. Yes … like the proverbial kid in the candy store, I couldn’t wait. I snatched the pod from the Targetperson and rushed over to the in-house coffee shop. The packaging didn’t last long in my hands.

I tore into the box and guess what was inside, Charlie Brown?

“I got a rock,” (and I quote).

I kid you not, there was no iPod. I got an iRock. Well, actually there were two rocks – about 80 gigs of sandstone I estimate – wrapped ever so neatly inside the Apple box. And this package was off the shelf, shrink wrapped and pristine.

Did I win some sort of contest? Do I get like a million dollar prize in some bizarre retail treasure hunt? Oh … rock … “I get it.” I thought I won a lifetime of free downloads on iTunes!

I rushed back to the customer service counter immediately to report my findings and perhaps to collect a prize(?).

They looked at me like I was crazy – or like I had rocks in my head, I should say. Suddenly my little prize fantasy crumbled. Then, I thought, “They are going to think I am some sort of con artist.”

“Burleson, we have a problem,” I say. “Just look at this.”

“Security! Security!”

The salespeople alerted the security guy on the radio. Everyone started gathering up all the packaging-turned-evidence and kinda looked at me all funny like. But, I “come across” as relatively honest, so, they didn’t handcuff me or anything. Actually, they were really nice. They called the store manager … protocol I assumed.

“I didn’t even leave the store,” I tell him, defensively. I had sat in the coffee shop and opened the thing. And I pointed out that “I noticed immediately that it was not an iPod, because it was two rocks.”

They actually asked me if I shook the package before opening it and if it rattled around like a rock.

“Nope. Surprisingly, I never guessed the rock was shrink wrapped inside … I will pay better attention next time.”

Suddenly, I remembered there was only one other iPod in the store … or perhaps in North Texas, based on my previous dry run. I begged them to grab the other one off the shelf, post haste, before some other rockhound beat me to it.

The security guard volunteered for the important mission, while I sat on the counter. Meanwhile, the word was spreading around the entire store … person to person … that some moron just bought a rock instead of an iPod. (“Did that come with ‘ear pebbles’?”)

Mr. Security returns carrying the final iPod – clutching it out in front of his body by one corner of the packaging. His body language and his immediacy kind of reminded me of a cat carrying a dead rodent, hoping the pet owner would show favor.

I digress …

Awesome! Success at last.

The three Targeteers make the exchange, scanning every bar code in sight. This time, they do the honors and open the package. A small crowd had gathered.

Well great googly-moogly, inside was another set of rocks. WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON?!? By that time, I was too entertained to be upset by the hassles. And actually, I breathed a sigh of relief when we discovered the second mother lode. After the first rock incident, I was imagining all sorts of Target detectives, lie-detector tests, mineral experts, Burleson Police and Apple investigators knocking on my door. “Alright, freak boy, you better talk. Tell us why you did it!” For some reason, I kept remembering the rock hammer in “Shawshank Redemption.”

For the conspiracy theorists reading along at home … try this on. Could this certain model of iPod be totally sold out, and so seriously on back order, that someone had the brilliant idea to just stick a weight in the box? Hey, they would still make the sale. (“Mustn’t let logistics slow the retail machine …) And most people wouldn’t have found out about the old switcheroo until they opened the box of rocks at home. (Does this make me a topnotch rock detective?) By that point, the buyer would have already shelled out their sheckles and been so excited about their iPod. Then, theoretically, it would become a mere question of delayed fulfillment. The retailer already would have the money in their account. There would just be that minor issue of the merchandise needing to be manufactured and delivered. You know those crazy salespeople – “make the sale at all costs.” Hey, at least the rocks weren’t covered in that crazy leaded Chinese paint. (See, there’s a plus.)

I don’t think that is the deal, but it makes a neat theory. Or … could this be a pet rock smuggling ring. “Sick ……..s!”

Finally, in this monumental case of RGW — Retail Gone Wrong, they down-sell me on a lesser-priced iPod. They collected all of the packaging and the virtual quarry and sent me on my way.

So, I ended up with a slightly less desirable iPod. But it works, so I am happy for the time being. And it only took like 5 hours total and about 100 miles of driving. (Note: By comparison, I bought a car in three hours.) All in all, not a bad day of shopping.

So here is the interactive part. How many song titles can you think of that would work nicely in the retelling of this little music lover’s nightmare?

Hmmm? “For Those About To Rock?” “Rock This Town?” “I wanna rock?” “Jailhouse Rock?” “Rock The Casbah?” “We Will Rock You?”

Do tell.