The Chatdown

I did not even see the Little People today, as I spent my day in downtown Fresno for jury duty.  Yes, you are correct, I was also called for jury duty not long ago.  And yes, it's still true that you can not take Sharpies in the courthouse.  In fact, despite my best efforts, I had one in my purse confiscated today.  Well, not actually confiscated.  The deputy spied it on the x-ray machine, dug through the vast contents of my purse, and politely asked me to go back outside and throw it away.  (FYI: The "best efforts" referred to above were trying to get rid of all my Purse Sharpies before I went to the courthouse in the first place.  It was not any kind of unsuccessful effort to wrest the contraband Sharpie away from the deputy. Although that would have made the morning much more interesting.)

Because of the day's events I can not talk about the Little People today.  Nor (by court order) can I talk about the court case that I am being considered for.  However, I did hear something interesting on the radio on the way downtown today.  It was reported by this radio station that now Homeland Security is going to take on a new tactic for traveling passengers at the airport:  The "chat down".  This seems to be some kind of short verbal conversation between the security people and the passenger with the aim of ascertaining if the passenger seems at all suspicious - at least verbally. 

Being a person who likes to for the most part travel in silence (at least while alone), this does not sound very fun to me.  In fact, I can think of several places that I go to often just here in town that are already adopting this method of conversation - and I don't much enjoy those conversations, either. 

For example, I am lucky to have a fabric store very close to my house, and as I am making several new things for our upcoming Holiday Boutique, I find myself at this fabric store at least once a week.   With this increased exposure to these specific store employees, I have experienced more and more of this "chat down" approach.

Recently I was at the cutting counter at this store with an employee that usually doesn't work in that department.  I knew this because a)she told me this, and b)I am there all the time.  Unfortunately, this was an evening when I was very anxious to be somewhere else, which made the conversation all the more tedious.

It went down like this:

J (me):  I'd like two yards of this fabric, please.
SG (Salesgirl):  Oh, okay.  Let me see... (she starts slowly and carefully spreading out the fabric on the table.)  I'm new at this...I usually don't work in this department. we go.  (starts cutting)
Cuts three or four scissors lengths, and then:  "What are you making with this?" 

J:  A scarf. 
SG:  Oh!  A scarf.  (stops cutting).  How are you going to make it?
J: Well, I'm going to blah blah blah... (I quickly explain my plan for the scarf-making process).
SG:  Oh!  Okay.  (starts cutting again).  There you go. (Moves on to the next fabric and asks how much I want.)
What are you making with this? 

J:  Um, a bag. 
SG: (Stops cutting and looks around conspiratorially)  We have to ask that.  They make us.  It's a way of engaging the customers. Although we don't have to ask everyone.
J:  Ah ha.
SG:  (Stops cutting, as if this question stops her in mid-cut):  So, how are going to make the bag?
J: Um, I'm not really sure yet.
SG: (Cutting again.)  Oh, okay.

Next is the fabric for another scarf.  This time I just volunteer what it's going to be before she can ask.

SG: Oh!  Another scarf.  (Stops cutting). 
Well, that's interesting.  (Rubs the fabric). 
This isn't very soft fabric.  Doesn't it bother you that this is not very soft fabric?  (Remains in a non-cutting stance until I answer.)
J:  Um, no.  No, it doesn't.
SG: Oh, okay.  (Continue cutting).

And on and on it went.  Believe me, I felt very "Chatted Down" before the whole fabric experience was over. 

So, next time I go to this store (most likely over the weekend) I think I will just volunteer what everything is before I even begin the fabric-cutting process.  Or pretend that I don't hear them and refuse to talk at all.  And perhaps I will be done with the Chat Downs. 

I guess I'm just more of a cut-and-dried x-ray kind of person.  Like this morning, with the Sharpie.  Because otherwise it might have gone down like this:

Deputy:  So, tell me how you feel about Sharpies....

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