Thursday, May 5, 2016

Noooo, Not My Beer!!

Connie lamenting the loss of Beer (and Richie).

Bobby was just as sad as Connie (and me) about the beer (and Ritchie).

"Not my beer!!!!", I screamed to the heavens like Richie's mother screaming for her lost child in La Bamba, "You can't be a pain in the ass like all the rest!!!!"  

I was pissed as I left the UPS facility, unsuccessful in my attempt to pick up the beer.  "This two hour pickup window is bullshit, I have things to do", I thought.

It all started so beautifully a few weeks earlier with a facebook message asking me if I wanted free beer.  Naturally I was skeptical because the question is ridiculous (and obvious) at face value.   Certainly there was a hook, a non-monetary price to be paid for something like this.

"Of course I want free beer, asshole." (That's the appropriate response to another guy when asked a stupid question).  "What do I have to do?"

"Nothing", the guy said.  "The beer will be sent to your house and all I need in return is a few lines of text saying how great this gift service is."

"I'm in", I said.

Reflecting on this random gift of kindness made me think of similar gift services, or clubs, I had been a part of in the past.  I could think of two off hand and started dreading my free beer shipment immediately:

1. Columbia House CD Club
2. Wine Club(s)

I joined Columbia House around 1990 and have only stopped receiving threatening letters in the last couple years, I assume because they went bankrupt in 2015.  If you're around my age you probably remember this scam, but here's a little refresher on how it worked:

For the price of ONE PENNY, you received 12 CD's, with the stipulation that you would buy a certain number of CD's moving forward (15?).   The first shipment was glorious and it was hard to comprehend how they could give away that much music.  This was before the digital age and a CD might cost $20, which means I had $240 worth of music sent to me for free!

The second month wasn't as great as you only received 5 CD's and had to return any you didn't want to keep.  That was easy enough the first time.  I sent them all back, which meant I was still obligated to buy 15 moving forward.  The next month the same thing happened, and I noticed I was being sent artists I had no interest in.  As I recall I checked one "genre" box on initial signup, like R&B.  It turns out that meant they would send you every piece of crap ever made in the R&B genre, not anything you actually liked. Instead of Bobby Brown I got "Hi-Five" or "Jagged Edge". It wasn't long before sending the CD's back became tiresome and overwhelming,  at which point I did nothing and collected a large music library for the price of one penny.  I may have purchased one or two additional CD's, but I think I may still be a fugitive of the law.  Lest you shake a finger at me, take a second to reflect on your similar experience with Columbia House.

The wine club experiences (I've had several) are an adult version of the Columbia House scam except you get alcohol instead of music and the genre becomes "red" or "white".  You get monthly shipments of wine you thought you wanted when you tasted the good stuff at the winery, but it's often not what you thought. It makes sense I suppose, they have to sell the junk just like a chef has to get rid of two day old fish and pawn it off as seafood medley. As a bonus there's usually a "members only" bottle as part of the package.  When Coppola made the first shipment I was thrilled to receive the "Director's Cut" until I went to the grocery store for some lunch meat and saw the EXACT  same bottles being sold in bulk at the front of the store right next to Bud Light display.   I promptly bought a case, I'm no fool.  Our friends knew we received the "exclusive" director's cut and now I could pawn it off as a special gift at our next dinner.

The first sign the beer had arrived was a UPS tag stuck to my door.   Even from a 40 foot distance, we all know what that tag means.  I walked up to the the door and saw exactly what I expected: The box indicating "we will try to deliver again tomorrow" was checked.  "(Filthy curse words)", I exclaimed, "I won't be home between 12:30 and 4:00 tomorrow".  I figured I could login to and change the shipment date and time so I ran upstairs.

"Incorrect Password".  "(The worst curse words known to mankind)", I screamed repetitively.  After several tries I managed to figure it out and planned to pick up the box the next day.  Upon arrival I ran to the door to get my free beer and pulled on the handle, which didn't budge.  I looked up to see that there's only a two hour window for pickup, and those two hours didn't coincide with the current time of handle pulling. (It's hard to describe the words I used at this point).

By the time I got my free beer home, I already hated it, and I hadn't even seen it yet.  When I opened the package I wasn't surprised to see generic looking bottles arranged into a "beer medley" of shit.  The bottles were generic and lacking imagination, one a plain blue label with the words "Dry Hopped Pale Ale".  They (whoever "they" are) didn't make the slightest effort to fool me with a "Director's Cut" misdirection or a "Limited Edition" ego stroke.  Just bland, boring, pain in the ass beer coming from a club equally as bad as the others.   I drove 20 round miles round trip (twice) to pick up a bad beer medley when Bevmo is 4 miles away with the exact selection I want and zero PITA factor.

My first instinct was correct, there was a non-monetary price to be paid for this free beer.  I'll never get those minutes back I spent traveling to the UPS facility, and god only knows how many additional minutes were taken off my life when the pickup window was closed and my veins bulged to 146% of their normal size.  As I move forward I'll do my best to keep myself away from clubs of all kinds and only buy exactly what I want from my favorite genre.  I'll try to choke down the rest of the beer, but don't be surprised if you receive a special, no label, holiday edition,  "Pacheco Brew" this coming winter season.

Me lamenting beer being a pain in the ass