June 23, 2005

Grift On June 21, 2005 by nick krill

It is only 8:42 PM and we have already had a full day’s worth of grifts. For those of you who aren’t aware of grifting, check out
with John Cusack. It’s the worst movie ever, but opened my eyes to a world of social obtusities that Uncle Sam doesn’t want you to know about.
Today the spinto band was three for three on grifts in Baltimore MD.

The first grift was the classic free bread grift. It was about 6:00 in the evening, and being unable to load in to the talking head until 8:30 we decided to walk around and find a place to relax. We had just turned down a small side street and began commenting about how awful it was that every store nearby was closing down at six when i looked to my left and saw a large trash bag inside an Au Bon Pain shop. It was glorious, and filled with muffins, strudels, bagels and cinnamon buns. I got the attention of a shop keeper, pointed at the bag and mouthed the words “trash bagels.” She nodded, gave the universal hand signal for “wait just a minute” and went towards the back room. A few moments later she emerged with a small plastic bag and began filling it with the goodies. Each band member now began watering at the mouth and sizing up the expanding bag like a pigeon might hone in on a discarded pizza crust. The shopkeeper then struggled trying to unlock the front door and left us in a few seconds of suspense. Finally, she handed over the bag of orphaned baked goods. Scott suggested we take a moment of silence to bask in the glory of all these day old treats. The moment was brief and we immediately dove into the bag. To celebrate our recently filled stomachs we decided to get a drink. Which leads us to the second grift of the day, the illusive shop keeps “my bad” grift.

We left the side street, some of us with apple danishes in hand, and headed toward a Walgreens pharmacy. As a miser in training I always head straight to the gallon jugs of water when I need to get a beverage on the road. The gallon jug is always cheep relative to the other convenient store beverages, and you simply can not beat its bang for the buck factor. As I stood looking at the available gallon jugs, one immediately caught my eye: a gallon jug for .59 cents. Not only was this jug just pennies, but it was a fantasticly designed jug.
Normal gallon jugs are a variation on the gallon milk jug, the familiar plastic molded container and handle combo with a pop off top. The .59 cent jug was a gem. First, instead of a pop-top it had a proper screw on top, that greatly reduces the chance of the jug top popping off during a bouncy car ride. The jug was also a bit streamlined almost like a bloated Evian bottle. Finally, instead of having a molded, built in handle it was fashioned with a plastic hand-hold secured around the bottle top. This design allows the jug to be held comfortably by ones side with the jug remaining upright. The normal milk jug copy forces the drinker to carry the jug at an angle, which is a mite uncomfortable on long journeys. The only drawback found thus far is the handle around the bottle top can become annoying while drinking from the bottle, however it more than makes up for this fault with its improvements made to the transportation of the jug.
Normally I may take up to two minutes looking at the various product options to determine which yields the maximum value, but today this choice was simple and I made my way to the cashier. Scott was also tempted by the .59 cent water and was at the casher when I arrived. To my dismay, when the clerk scanned the upc code the price for the beverage came up as $1.69. Unfortunately the .59 cent deal was for a gallon of Walgreens brand water, and we held in our hands a Pure American jug. This price was unacceptable, even considering the well designed bottle. After some talking with the cashier and the store manager it was determined that the product was marked incorrectly on the shelf. Due to a shortage of the Walgreens water they had to move the Pure American brand into the shelf space. In the end both the cashier and the manager said it was their bad and thus we go the $1.69 water for .59 cents.

Now being well fed and with our thirsts quenched we decided to find a comfortable place to play a little Phase 10 to pass the time. We began in a park, but after constant pestering from gnats (no-see-ums) we decided to move the game indoors. We began perusing the streets for a comfortable lobby, and finally spotted a local hotel. We had been tipped off by our friends in the mini band that hotel lobbies are a prime pit stop for touring bands yielding clean bathrooms and occasionally scraps of the days continental breakfast. We were all excited to test out their theory. Five of us walked in and made our way towards the hotel bar. We sat down, began dealing the phase 10 cards and told the bar tender we were waiting for a friend. We soon noticed a small buffet of free food which we began picking over. After a few games of phase 10 jon ordered a drink to keep the bar tender at bay while we all made another run at the buffet. Around this time tom decided to go to the bathroom and jon made a phone call to the hobsons (who decided to sit this grift out). Although the call was not initially part of the grift, it fit perfectly into our plan. Here is a short transcript:

Jon: hey where are you.
Caller: bla bla bla
Jon: oh. well we are here.
Caller: bla bla
Jon: hmm ok well we will see you there soon.

This conveniently gave us an exit plan and the bar tender was none the wiser. Then, just as we were finishing out latest phase 10 hand tom returned beaming and holding a hand full of cookies and a coffee. We made our way through the lobby towards the front door and each grabbed a few cookies on our way out. It was the perfect end to a perfect evening of grifting.

While returning to the talking head we saw a park bench reading, “ Baltimore: the greatest city in America” after tonight we would like to amend that phrase adding, “Baltimore: the greatest city in America, for grifting.”

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