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August 12, 2007

grifting, termites, and OMG housewarming parties

On Saturday I busted a cashier at the 7-Eleven on Rhode Island and 14th Street, NW trying to grift me. Grifting is a petty merchant crime that depends on the customer to not pay attention to the transaction. It's happened to me about four times here in The District, usually at quickie-mart type places.

With a cashier merchant, it can happen in a couple of ways. It is attempted usually when the customer is drunk, not paying attention, or appears to be in a hurry. A simple way to attempt the crime is when you purchase a low-price item and pay for it with a larger bill. You give them a $10, and receive change for a $5; or give a $20 and get back change for a $10. How often do you count your change? When you call them out on this way of grifting, they can always claim they made a mistake.

In this weekend's instance, I was buying two packs of spearamint chewing gum, and was alerted to the con by the fact that the LED transaction display was not showing any totals. And/or they will try to conduct the transaction without a receipt. The other indicator that you can watch for is if the register till is not closed at the beginning of the transaction. The cashier is basically trying to charge you a little bit more for the item on his own without recording the transaction. It's never a large amount of money, and he is depending on you to not notice, but by the end of the day it adds up for the shady cashier.

Knowing that he was trying to do something sly, I waited for the final total, then I said, "That seems a bit high. Can you ring it up so I can see the total, and can I get a receipt?" Sure enough, the next total for the transaction was about $.40 lower than what I was quoted the first time. This ain't a bazaar, honey, and I shouldn't have to haggle the price at a 7-Eleven. And this ain't my first time in a 3rd world market. Just like a large transaction, a customer has the right to request a receipt of the transaction. The cashier was notably flustered, which filled me with glee. Whether you are a adjudicator of the law or just like catching thieves in the act, it's something to watch out for on occasion. Basically, count your returned change, make sure you know the prices, and get a receipt, and you can avoid it.

Later on I stopped by my old place to see if the owner was in and whether or not there was any mail for me there. There was not much mail, but the owner wanted to show me something inside. I had spent over a year at that property, and noticed small termite swarms every spring. I never counted more than a couple dozen critters, but I let the owner know because it could be bad news for the building structure. I didn't realize how bad it could be.

He was working on gutting the place, and since I had told him about the termite appearances, had gutted some parts of the house to inspect the potential damage. And damage there was: the middle of some major joists, up to 6" in width, had been riddled through entirely with tunnels. He pointed out some areas where a joist should be, but were missing entirely. He said there was nothing left but dust and nails in some parts. I pity him, but at least it's not my home! More good renter experience that will potentially help me in the future: if you see even a single termite, you should freak out if you own the place. They do some serious damage to a house's structure.

We had a housewarming party tonight. It was a smashing success, especially judging by the cleanup and beer smell that now permeates the house. Some pictures are here and here. Here's my favorite photo, a closeup of some Bear's chest fur:
TJ's Chest Fur

Posted by jimbo at August 12, 2007 1:49 AM


Nice fur TJ!

Posted by: homer at August 12, 2007 1:45 PM

While I don't agree with the morality of grifting, I do have an admiration for their skill. I say that cuz the movie, "The Grifters" is one of my faves. And T.J., I'm so glad you don't manscape. Glad you all had fun at the party, by the way.

Posted by: diamondfistwerny (Steve) at August 12, 2007 11:33 PM

I thought grifting was the act of beating Angelica Houston with a pillow case full of citrus fruit.

Posted by: Boo Augustus at August 13, 2007 12:08 AM


Posted by: Patrick at August 13, 2007 11:10 AM

Thanks for posting that photo in high definition gigantorVision. Lovely.

Posted by: durban bud at August 13, 2007 2:00 PM

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