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01/29/2003

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I bought a TiVo today. Yes, I bought a second TiVo. Please, no cracks about our rampant consumerism. We know. We can't help it. I like gadgets and Claudine likes T.V. We're lucky we've only got two.

This is Claudine's birthday present. There's no surprise this year so I feel comfortable typing about it here. It's not like she reads this very much anyway. I usually get her some kind of amethyst jewelry for her birthday. In fact, I think I've gotten her a piece of amethyst jewelry for every birthday starting from the year before we got married. If I count right (which isn't always a given), I think that makes 8 birthdays. The tradition got started back when she was in Washington D.C. and I had driven down for her birthday weekend. I still hadn't gotten her anything for her birthday so I went out to the Georgetown Mall on Saturday morning. I was just wandering around not really finding anything when I walked past a new-age feeling jewelry store. I spotted a pair of silver and amethyst earrings. One of the things that Claudine and I found we had in common very early on was the fact that we liked silver, white gold, and platinum much better than yellow gold. We hate it in fact. So I snapped up the earrings and they were a bit hit. Little did I know that I was starting a tradition. A tradition that I'm now breaking this year. I don't want to be too predicable. Women love mystery, don't they?

The whole TiVo purchase took me about 20 minutes. I don't mean I was in and out of the store in 20 minutes, I mean I was out of my house and back again in 20 minutes. I went to the East Hanover incarnation of Best Buy which is frighteningly close to my little slice of suburbia. They had exactly one 80 hour TiVo unit left. I grabbed it, walked over to the one open register and slapped down my credit card. Compared with some of my other experienced in these cookie-cutter, soulless stores, it was an amazingly easy purchase.

There was one odd thing that I noticed about the checkout process in Best Buy. As I said, there was only one open register. And the less-than-thrilled young lady behind the register was giving off huge vibes of disinterest. As she saw approaching, I saw her type in what I assumed was a password into the keyboard to start the transaction. As a full fledged geek, I usually check out all the technology involved in the check-out process. Blah, blah, blah the whole transaction went through smoothly. At the end, as the drone handed me my receipt, the terminal screen blanked out and prompted for a password. I asked her "Do you have to enter a password for every transaction?" "Every one" she said with a tone that made me think it was a sore point to her and possibly the entire staff. As I walked out to the car I tried to envision what circumstances caused Best Buy to feel they had to know who was responsible for every transaction. I can understand having to log into a register at the beginning of a shift. Or having the ability to lock a terminal, walk away for a moment, and then be able to log in again. But this system required the entry of a password with every sale. I remember having to wait in a long, long line at that Best Buy before Christmas. The time spent by having to enter that password between every transaction seems like a huge waste of time.