The Zip Code’s Farewell Tour

As an educator (and founder of the Kat Richter Institute of Distance Learning for Problem Customers), I’m starting to get depressed.  I’m getting no where in my crusade for zip code education.  (If you’re sitting at your computer wondering what the heck I’m talking about, it’s probably because you’re new to the Institute and not because I’m losing my mind, if that’s what you were thinking.  Refer back to “Shopping 101” for a brief orientation).

This afternoon, I was up at Reggie #1 when two women in their early thirties stepped into line.  The first was in the middle of a very interesting phone call and because Friday afternoons tend to be pretty boring at The Shop, I couldn’t help but tune in.

[Warning: the “F bomb” will be dropped in the course of this entry.  And not by me, but by a customer. As a journalist, however, I feel compelled to report the full story.  Truthfully.  Because that’s what journalists do, right?]

To continue:

“I don’t care why you were with her!” she shrieked into the phone.  Her friend nodded enthusiastically as she slammed her basket on the counter.  “I don’t care when you slept with her.  Or whether it was before or after me.  Don’t ever call me again!”

With that, she dropped the phone into her pocketbook and forced a smile.  “What do you need?  My zip code?  Sure.  It’s two-one-five…”

She paused, suddenly realizing that she had given me her area code and not her zip code.  We’ve been through this before, students. 

“Sorry,” she apologized.

“It’s okay,” I replied.  After all, she was clearly distressed.

Taking a deep breath, she recited, “One-nine-one-four—What a f*cking bastard!— seven.”

Well now.  That was one for the books.  Perhaps she’d be willing to give a guest lecture at the Kat Richter Institute of Distance Learning for Problem Customers.  In the meantime: I’ve decided that the time has come for your first homework assignment— yes folks, we’re going interactive.  Please scroll down, click “Leave a Reply” and respond to today’s lesson with your most creative, humorous or downright obnoxious answer to that oh-so-infuriating question, “May I have your zip code?”

The winner will get a gold star.  And possibly a shout out.  And you’ll earn the rest of your class a reprieve in my zip code diatribes.  I’ll start writing about something really interesting instead… something like Britain’s new coaltion government or—ooh!  I know!  Shopping bags.  How cool is that?  Stay tuned.  And do your homework.

15 Responses to “The Zip Code’s Farewell Tour”

  1. Landlord

    Teacher, my dogs ate my homework…seriously they woke me up by flipping my shoe back and forth to each other and that seriously deterred me from completing my assignment, can I have an extension?

  2. chauffeur

    I am glad u explained why they (the man) want zip codes, radio shack asks to, even if just getting batteries, I feel like James Bond when i give them a fake one, well not fake, just not mine. Same with phone number requests. Unless shopping on line, then I want them to have all avail info to limit the chance the order will get screwed up. So much for James Bond.

  3. Charles

    “You don’t need no code for my zipper sweets, its always open! Ah yeaaah” hi-five friend

  4. jeff

    is there a reason why “May I have you’re zip code?” has a possessive and not “your”?

    • Kat Richter

      Because my brain has turned to rubbish since working at The Shop. Actually, that’s not quite true… homophones have always been my downfall. Thanks for catching the mistake!

    • Kat Richter

      Huh? I don’t get it… So I guess that answers your question 🙂 Either that or I need to beef up on my cultural literacy-

      • Landlord

        I get extra credit ’cause I know that 0-2-1-3-4 is ZOOM!!! Yes, I am also showing my age 🙂

  5. Jessica (from London)

    What happens to those people who don’t have zip codes? If I was in your shop, would you be unable to sell me anything? Or would you just put the airport as my address?

    Thinking of this reminded me…my parents lived in Seattle for a bit, and my Dad had an alien card. He’s actually still got it, and it shows him, twenty years ago, with ALIEN written on the card. Apparently a number of people really did think that meant he was from outer space…

  6. Gail

    Dean Madam Educator,

    Keep your spirits up and know you are not alone in the discussion of zip codes. At a recent outing with girlfreinds, we were telling stories of information gathering at the register. Everyone had a story to tell. Ok, not as great as the ones you have posted, but from the other side of the counter we had stories which made us all wonder if truly the information does include esponage.

    Taxi cabs… now that’s a topic I’m sure can conjour up a few intereting stories. Did you know there are 19, yes 19 cab companies in Iowa City? Getting back to the craft shop theme, I am happy to report a friend recenlty listed these IC cab companies in a rainbow order of the paint colors on the taxis. This task was quiet well and amazingly done, but did not include zip code information.

    Oh yeah, 5-2-2-4-6

  7. Ellen Marshall

    I can’t give you any zipcode stories, on account of working in a bookshop in England, but to make you feel better about idiots coming in, I did have a customer a few weeks back who came in looking for a particular Mark Twain novel which we didn’t have in stock. I offered to order it for her and told her which other branches of the company might have it in stock. She then asked me ‘Has Mark Twain written anything new?’. I politely pointed out he’d been dead for about 100 years, and propmtly went off to laugh about her with my colleagues.

  8. Dashing Darcy

    The only correct answer to this question is spoken by an incredibly handsome, undoubtedly heterosexual male (preferably with a British accent):

    “My zip code? Oh fairest of the fair, so beautiful in spite of your uniform polo, ask not what my zip code is. Give me rather yours, or best yet, your telephone number, because my Thursday evenings are as free as yours”



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