I’ve had a few different jobs over the course of my life, and at each I’ve learned something that I could take with me for the rest of my life. How to deal with people, how retail markups are calculated, transport logistics, what types inspectors business owners in different industries have to bribe to keep their doors open etc. You know, how to get by in life. But, additionally, each of these has taught me new and interesting ways to screw over people who have pissed me off. A few of my favorites follow.
Paper and Printing
For a while I worked in a paper warehouse, dealing with all sorts of people in the printing industry. Though not as exciting as The Office may have lead you to believe, paper is still considered a commodity, and while print shops have been going the way of 8-track manufacturers, we’re a good way from the paperless utopia we’ve been promised. Here I learned about the important difference between grain short and grain long, that cover snaps while text flaps, how to translate the two different systems of paper weights, and that if you confuse bone with ecru on an order a Jewish lady will rip you a new asshole for ruining her daughter’s Bat Mitzvah because the invitations were the wrong color. The most important lesson I learned, however, was that the power of the press belongs to those who run one.
I will relate a story of petty revenge against business fuckery and one against a personal douche. If you run a small business, particularly a local restaurant, you may use a common marketing ploy and offer a discount or free meal to frequent customers. These promos are particularly popular with pizza joints. I feel confident in saying that most people have probably used a “buy 10 get 1 free” pizza coupon at some point. Or, at least collected them in a junk drawer and forgotten they existed until after they expired. It would seem like common sense, but if you ever pay a printer to make those nice coupons for you, make sure you pay them. If you don’t, you deserve the sudden influx of free pizza coupons that will inevitably show up because the guy who produced them gave stacks to all their friends and family. That’s not so creative or terrible, though.
Most print shops make more than just invitations and paper flyers. A lot of them print boxes, silkscreen shirts and signs, and make stickers. Bumper stickers are a bit less popular thanks to the internet and social media campaigns. Until a few years ago they weren’t just a mark of extreme right or left wing insanity, but were used to tell people what your other car was or what you’d rather be doing. What I’m trying to say is that not just crazy people put stickers on their car just a few years ago. And because they were forever, quick to produce, and relatively low cost for the exposure they can provide, a lot of non-profits and charities used them to spread their messages. And if you piss off a printer they may run a few hundred bumper stickers that read something along the lines of “Depressed? Don’t give up. Call 555-555-5555 for counseling 24 hours” and slap them on cars and in high visibility spots around town. Especially outside of bars. Imagine if every sad drunk in a city saw your phone number when they were most likely to call a help line and cry into the phone. Especially at 3 am. If you’re the kind of person who can deal with the possibility of a real and true depressed person at what may be their lowest point calling someone completely unqualified to help them and is likely to curse them out, this is a wonderful way to ruin someone’s day.
I worked for a major cellular provider doing end user support. While there I learned how just about anyone can take advantage of cellular carriers’ policies and technology to screw over their fellow man. While tech geeks and phone enthusiasts may know what a PUK code is, your average individual has no idea. For those who are in the majority, a PUK, or Personal Unlock Key, is a secondary level of security for cell phones that use SIM cards. If you have a PIN programmed in your phone to keep people from snooping and it’s misentered 3 times in a short period, your device may ask you to enter a PUK. This number can only be obtained by contacting the phone carrier. Enter the PUK wrong 10 times and the phone’s SIM card is locked, essentially turning the phone into a brick until they get it replaced, cutting it off from all network access. This is a great one for that asshole who sets their phone on the bar while they try to grope unappreciative women.
If you know the name and phone number for the target of your ire, along with who their cellular provider is, you can make their life unpleasant for quite a while. When calling just about any service provider, be they cellular, cable, utility, or other, people have to provide some sort of PII, personally identifiable information, to gain account access. What PII is used can vary, but will usually include an account number, name, and often the last 4 digits of a social security number or a password. This is done so that unsavory individuals with ill intent can’t call the phone company and cancel your account or order a few thousand dollars of pay per view porn to your cable bill. It can make calling for basic help annoying, but it’s understandable. What you… I mean a hypothetical vengeance-seeking person with few scruples, probably a Cuban, can do is suspend their service.
The only thing that a representative is allowed to do to an account without receiving positive identification over the phone is suspend service. The logic is as follows; if someone has their purse, or satchel if they’re a dude, stolen with their phone in it, they might not have access to that information, and the company would prefer to be safe over sorry if someone’s gotten a hold of their customer’s phone. I know of at least one person who had a pissed off ex continually call in and suspend their service as stolen, even though their account had notes all over it explaining what was going on. The customer service reps had no choice but to suspend the phone. It went on until the customer closed her account and opened a new one with a different phone number under a variant of their first name.
I did a part time gig delivering auto parts for a while. The drivers were a mix of young guys who needed beer money and bored retirees from the auto industry. Here I learned from one of those retired mechanics that sugar in a gas tank is not the engine destroying catastrophe that urban legend would have you believe. It can do some damage to a fuel filter and their fuel injection system, but nothing that’ll stop the car and can’t be fixed pretty quickly. If you really want to get somebody, what you need is a ping pong ball.
Cars are pretty simple in function. A driver (you in this case) presses down on the gas pedal, which draws gas from the tank into a pipe that leads to the engine. The more gas being fed to the engine, the hotter it burns, and the faster the car goes. Ping pong balls float. Drop one into a gas tank and it’ll float to the top. As the gas level drops, it will get closer to that pipe leading to the engine. And, usually when the tank is about half full, the suction will be enough to suck that ball into the pipe, cutting the flow of fuel and stopping the car. So, your car will stop as though it’s out of gas, but the gauge shows half full. Additionally, after the engine shuts off, the suction will stop and the ball will float back to the top of the gas tank, so you can restart the engine, at least until you give it too much gas. And there’s no way to really know or fix the issue without dropping the gas tank.
I think this one’s my favorite.