rain down on me from a great height

I had a very short day today, and was wrapped just after lunch, so I had the afternoon to myself to take care of some very important business.

Before I get to that, though, a little bit about working on Eureka…

The good news is that I was given permission to twitter and photograph from the set of Eureka. The bad news is that this episode is so awesome, everything I'm shooting or watching is a special delivery from Spoilertown … so I end up taking boring pictures of the outside of the old Battlestar Galactica stage. This may seem silly, but knowing that I'm >this< close to where that show was made gives me a little bit of the nerdsquee every morning. I mean, it happened right there!

I thought some of you would like to know that Neil Grayston is awesome. I've worked with him in all of my scenes, and I really like him. It turns out that we have a lot in common: we both played D&D when we were kids (I started with Basic, he started with 2nd edition AD&D), we both love acting, we both like science fiction, and we both love being on the show.

Okay, now back to (my) business. When I came up here last week, I felt like my suitcase was lighter than it should have been. I decided that it felt that way because I didn't bring a heavy coat, and I was used to carrying suitcases to cons, which are usually pushing the weight limit with books and pictures inside.

Well, when I got here and unpacked, I discovered that my suitcase was light because I'd left a load of laundry in the dryer and hadn't packed it. Oops. Luckily for me, I had enough of everything I needed except jeans and socks, so on Saturday, I ran over to a nearby department store and bought 4 pair of socks plus two pair of jeans.

This morning, when I was getting ready to get dressed for work, I saw that the cashier dude hadn't taken that giant plastic alarm-ringer-thingy off one pair of the jeans I'd bought. Luckily, I saved my receipt so I could get my GST back when I go home, so I knew I could just go there today after work and get it taken care of.

I felt very self-conscious walking around with a pair of jeans folded up underneath one arm for reasons I can't explain, and I guess I had good cause to feel weird about it because I was really aware of people looking at me when I walked past them. On my way to the store, it started to rain, so I decided to walk through a different department store that was a block closer than my destination. Of course, the alarm went off on the way into the store, drawing even more unwanted attention my way. I waited to see if someone in the store would come over and see what was going on, but nobody did, so I walked through the store and out the other side.

The alarm went off when I went out. I thought, "Seriously? This couldn't have happened once on Saturday, and it's happened twice today?"

An older man in a long coat and a jacket – looking very much like one of the bankers the headcrusher guy from Kids in the Hall hates so much – gave me a withering look, like he was convinced I'd stolen the jeans that were rolled up underneath my left arm. I can see why it would have appeared suspicious to, well, anyone. Again, I waited for someone to come over, and again nobody did. "Maybe Canadians are just more trusting than Americans," I thought, as I walked across the street and into my destination.

As I stood at the light and waited to cross, I noticed that a pair of girls were looking at me and whispering to each other. "Okay, Wil, you're totally being paranoid now. Maybe it's time to go back to the hotel and lie down for a little bit. Also, the light just changed so get a move on."

I walked into the store, and the alarm went off. "Of course," I thought.

I headed to the first cash register I could find, and waited. When an employee arrived, I blurted out, "I'm not a criminal!" She looked at me like that's exactly what I was, so I continued in what I hoped was a calmer voice, "I bought these on Saturday, and the guy forgot to take the tag off." She looked at me warily. "I have the receipt," I said. I pulled it out of my pocket and set it on the counter.

I remembered a day, about a year ago, when I was at a Staples near my house buying printer paper (yeah, they've got that) and a couple of full-on tweakers came in, trying to "return" a handful of pens and stuff they carried in a well-worn plastic bag. The manager made them immediately, and while the female half of the couple tried to convince him that they'd bought them the day before and just didn't need them, a car alarm went off in the parking lot. The guy half of the couple was seriously high – picking at his neck, tapping his foot, the whole thing – and he started looking around furiously while he said with increasing volume, "Alarm! Alarm! Alarm! Alarm! ALARMALARMALARMALARM!" 

I got out of there before things got ugly. Well, uglier, anyway.

The cashier looked at me again while she picked up the receipt, and I was convinced she was seeing that tweaker couple in my face. "I have the card I paid with if you want to verify that I'm telling you the truth," I said. I don't know why I felt so guilty, but I wouldn't have been surprised at all if I got the tap on the shoulder and the "Sir, will you come with me, please?"

After what seemed like a very long time, she apparently decided that I wasn't making up a story, took the plastic alarm thingy off, and gave me back my jeans.

"Do you think I could have a small bag, please?" 

She just looked at me with a mixture of incredulity, confusion, annoyance, and other.

"I feel a little weird carrying a pair of jeans around town," I explained. With obvious reluctance, she gave me the bag. Needless to say, I got out of the store pretty quickly.

Once I was out of the store and on a fairly busy shopping street, I relaxed … for about a block, when I noticed that people were still looking at me. I remembered feeling like a circus freak when I was a teenager, because people stared at me all the time after seeing me on their TVs…

…and that's when it hit me. "Oh. People are looking at me because I was on TV last night and they're trying to figure out where they've seen me before."

Mostly out of relief, I laughed out loud and relaxed for real this time. I walked back to my hotel feeling fitter, happier, more productive.

85 thoughts on “rain down on me from a great height”

  1. Well I don’t think there is any in Canada, but you should have went to Kohls. LOL! “Where can you expect great things!” and the “Yes we can policy”. They will do anything for you, especially taking the tag off your jeans with out question, and take back items that don’t belong the store Ha! Saddly, I used to work there, and it was almost a nightmare. I liked working at Mervyns which I believe doesn’t even exist in California anymore for Target *bastards* sold us to an investment firm that undoubtly wipe us off the face of the earth. I am still pissed about it! Oh well, I got a fluffy job now, so I guess I can’t complain too much. Poor Wil, I feel sorry for ya!

  2. I agree to never shop there again because Sears need to get their head out the dirt and realize they really need to reorganize their corporate policy and store management. If they don’t they will surely cease to exist in about 15 years *generous estimate*

  3. You should have just channeled Evil Wil Wheaton. “Do you *really* think that I’d walk through two department stores setting off alarms for a pair of jeans? Good. You just keep thinking that.”
    BTW, I can see why the scene where Stuart introduced you took several takes. The timing on you turning around & Sheldon popping up like a disturbed Meerkat was brilliant! Have fun with your new jeans!

  4. Ah, the price of fame.
    I remember this type of thing happening to me, albeit, on a much smaller scale, after I acted in a few plays around town. Every now and then, someone would come up to me and say, “aren’t you ?” That was nice. It never got to the staring stage. The last time someone stared at me like that when when I was dressed up for some role playing sessions and proudly flying my freak flag.
    Seriously, hardly anyone ever realizes they are “special” and those that do usually aren’t. Sorta the reverse of the people who are wise enough to realize they aren’t wise at all.
    To your audience, commenting on this type of thing that makes you seem accessible and special.

  5. Hi Wil!
    I didn’t see anyone bring up this point, so I thought I’d add my two cents.
    I worked store security for a while. One of the reasons that no one approached you is that they may not be allowed to. Our store policy, and I get the impression it’s pretty common, is that rank and file employees are not allowed to do anything about shoplifters. It’s to minimize the risk of the store getting sued for false arrest. We literally had someone walk out of the store with a flat screen TV because it is a termination offense to stop a shop lifter if you aren’t loss prevention.
    Even if you are loss prevention, you have a list of things you have to be able to report observing in order to prove beyond a doubt that the person intended on stealing it. So with the TV thing above, loss prevention couldn’t do anything about it because we had no way to prove it.
    Our store used to have a “hear a beep, get a buck” system. If you went over to investigate the alarm going off and checked the customer’s receipt, you could log it in and get a buck for every time you did it. They discontinued that policy some time after I stopped doing loss prevention. I’m not sure if it was because of employee fraud or it caused all sorts of weird problems when the person who set off the alarm didn’t have a receipt.
    Really, the alarms at the door are meant as more of a psychological deterrent. It doesn’t stop anyone determined to take an item. But some analysis somewhere determined that they had less theft by having those than otherwise so it was worth the cost.

  6. Good points. Additionally, I worked for a place that said they couldn’t stop people until they had left the store, because up to that point it wasn’t “officially” stealing.

  7. Security Guard: Hey, kid — one more thing. If you EVER set foot in this store again, you’ll be spending Christmas in juvenile hall. Capisce?
    [Bart looks blank]
    Security Guard: Well, do you understand?
    Bart: Everything except “capisce”.
    http://j.mp/9dTj4H ;]

  8. Also true. The full list of steps I had to follow was:
    – See them enter the area.
    – See them select the item.
    – If they conceal the item, see where they conceal it.
    – Maintain visual contact with them until the store.
    – Watch them leave the store.
    All of this in order to prove intent to steal should it come to a court room. =P

  9. Does the title of this post imply that you are being a Paranoid Android? If so, I didn’t realize that you are a robot. But that does confirm one of my theories.
    Awesome song, by the way.

  10. At least you caught it before you left town! A few years back, I had purchased a new suit and shirt a few days before leaving town to go to a friend’s wedding a few hours away. When preparing to iron my shirt the morning of their wedding, I discovered that they had neglected to remove the plastic security tag. No receipt with me, and the store didn’t have a location nearby, at any rate.
    A quick scour of the only shopping mall in town was fruitless… but maybe the nice folks at Sears would be able to remove it? I popped in there and had a chat with one of the nice ladies working in the Menswear department, who thought that the security tag was similar to a kind that they used to use. I gave her the go-ahead to try to remove it, knowing that if it broke in the process, it would most likely ruin the shirt. A few minutes in the back, and she came back – victory!
    I must have an honest face or something – or maybe people don’t frequently try to steal men’s dress shirts?

  11. Oh man, that must have been a nightmare for you! I know what you mean about it happening during a crowd rush. Can’t happen during slow times, oh no, always when the store is full. I was at a Walgreens not too long ago, and the minute I stepped out the door…BEEEEEP. The lady behind the counter said, “Oh, that happens all the time. They need to get that fixed”. You think?
    Part of me still gets paranoid when exiting a store. Needless to say, Online shopping and I are good friends. =]

  12. And you’ll be scored by the BSG composer too. But taikos? Probably not… but maybe? :-)
    Speaking of which, Frak Evil Wil Wheaton for breaking up Leonard and Penny!
    Next time you’re on (I’m sure you will be), the clown sweater is the only fitting retribution. :)

  13. A friend of mine played a recurring bit part in BSG and I ended up going to the wrap party. It was one of the highlights of my life.
    Not sure if you’d be into it but as coincidence would have it, there’s a midnight double bill of The Goonies and Stand By Me this Friday at the Rio up on Commercial and Broadway.

  14. Wow. I can’t believe all those people noticed and stared, and yet not ONE person said, “Hey Wil! Your fly is open!”
    How rude!

  15. WWtPA: I could explain the difference between an android and a robot, but what’s the point? You wouldn’t listen. You wouldn’t care. Nobody does. Everybody hates me. I don’t deserve to function.

  16. Canadians are very trusting! But the comment about waiting around for someone to come by when the alarm went off makes sense. You weren’t in any hurry to escape. Shoplifters run! Oh, and why didn’t you carry your jeans back to the store in a bag? Instead of walking around with them? That just occured to me…or perhaps having a bag with tagged jeans in them looks more suspicious? Tough one!

  17. And don’t forget to say “Wheres the washroom?” That question always caught me off guard when I was in retail. I thought to myself…washroom? What in the hell is a washroom. Does he mean restroom? Oh!

  18. Yes, we do get CBS up here, and all the other US networks. However, TBBT is shown on CTV in Canada. Which means that the cable company substitutes the CTV feed for the CBS feed when a show plays at the same time, as TBBT does. That way, you get all the Canadian ads when you watch on either channel. And after all, money is what it is all about.
    What really sucks though is not being able to watch the CBS internet feeds from Canada. They also recently blocked their CBS Radio feeds as well. Which makes it difficult to listen to US Talk Radio online.

  19. You going to be able to see either of the Canucks vs Kings playoff games while you are up here? Or just via CBC tv in the hotel?

  20. wow. i had no idea this existed, but i’m so happy to know that it does.
    (this is where you roll your eyes, and i’m sorry for this, but…)
    toy soldiers was on one of the movie channels tonight. i love that movie. they rarely ever play it. (but they can play the same movie twenty times in a week.) anyway. i was watching that, and imdb’d it, and googled the characters, and found this…and for that i am grateful.
    (this is where it gets super silly … and no, i’m not some stupid teenager … i’ve had a shit week, so i’m feeling silly today…)
    i liked your character in that movie the best.
    okay. i’m done with the cheese. look forward to reading your stuff.

  21. Hey Wil – what’s the weirdest thing anyone’s said to you (re: trying to figure out who the hell you are)?
    Something like… “Weren’t you chased down by a train once?” or “Didn’t I see you in grey and rainbow pajamas in the 80’s?”

  22. Love this story…
    Just came across your blog, and have loved the read and pictures
    Yes, us Canadians are a bit strange, but you have to admit, we are a friendly bunch eh?
    take care

  23. Late to the party but…hope you and your jeans are now
    comfortable, not drinking too much.
    Funny thing about security tags at the store I work at: they don’t actually set off any alarms! I’m guessing they are meant to act as a deterrent just by being there. Also, it is true that us associates are not allowed to go after shoplifters ourselves…that’s up to loss prevention.

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