My son had been nagging me for months to get a new computer, and today I finally cracked. I had just gotten my new paycheck and was going in to buy a new computer today, accessories and all. I hadn’t been to George’s Electronics in months, even though it was my favorite store, and I was surprised to see that the name of the store now read “Uncle Enzo’s Electronics.” Curious.
As I walked out of the summer heat and into the air conditioned building I noticed something new, two guys in black suits and dark sunglasses standing near the entrance. They were both overly-muscled bouncer types.
My curiosity got the best of me and when I found an employee asked what had happened.
“Oh,” he replied, “we’re mafia owned now.”
“What?” I said, incredulous.
“Yeah. Uncle Enzo bought the place from George over a month ago. He got a very good deal on it, too, from what I hear.”
“I see. So what does this mean exactly?”
The man seemed to be quoting from a brochure as he said, “Uncle Enzo uses his connections to get the lowest prices on all our electronics, and we pass the savings on to you!”
“Okay, well, I was wondering if you could help me look for a new desktop computer.”
“Right this way.”
I briefly noticed that his nametag read Johnny “the Weasel” Malone. He led me
own a few aisles to the display models and pointed out a few examples in my price range. I was curious about a lower-priced one and asked for more information.
“That’s the Initrode 3000,” Johnny said. “We just had a shipment come in last week. They ‘fell off the truck.'”
“Wouldn’t that damage…?” I began. “Wait, are you saying these are stolen?”
“Absolutely not. Uncle Enzo and his associates do not knowingly buy or sell stolen merchandise, nor engage in any illegal activities of any kind.”
A man came up and interrupted us. He seemed pretty angry about something.
“I want to talk to someone about the stuff I bought yesterday. Half of it don’t work and the other half-“
Johnny held up a hand. “Talk to Gregori in customer service over there. He’ll take care of you.”
“And ask him to use the bat.”
“What if I’ve still got problems?”
“Sir, I can assure you that after talking to Gregori you’ll never want to lodge another complaint again.”
“I’ma do that.”
Johnny the Weasel watched him go and then turned back to me. “Anyway, if you can tell me more of what you’re looking for I can help you pick the model you need.”
I told him what I wanted and what price range I was looking for.
“Well,” he said, “I think you’ll want one of these five computers.”
“Oh,” I added, “I don’t want to buy anything that will get me in trouble with the law.”
“Hmm… Then you’ll want that one.”
I took it, put it in my cart, thanked the man for his help, and then got the printer, mouse, and other accessories, and then headed to the register.
The checkout clerk was a high school girl, probably 16 or 17, and she was seemed to be summer help.
As she began ringing up my purchases she asked, “Would you like to buy a Customer Protection Agreement?”
“Is that like an extended warranty?”
“Sorta. It, like, makes sure nothing bad happens to your stuff. You wouldn’t want some guy to come into your house and, like, smash your stuff would you?”
“Well, no. I guess I’ll take it,” I said.
“You’re smart for an old guy.” She popped her gum. “That comes to 879.37.”
I handed her my debit card and she scanned it. The register made a strange beep.
“Sir, your card was, you know, declined. We have a guy who offers loans, if you need some quick money.” Another gum snap. “Right now we have a special: miss your first payment and we only break one of your legs.”
“Um, I’ll pay with my credit card.”
“Whatever.” I scanned the card.
“Thank you, and have a wonderful day.”
I walked out of the store and put my stuff in the car. On the drive back, I had a black sedan following me, but I managed to lose it in traffic.
When I got to my house I carried the computer in the front door. My wife was there to meet me.
“How did shopping go?” she asked.
“It was interesting. George’s Electronics is owned by the mafia now.”
“That’s new. How’d that affect things?”
I thought for a minute. “Compared to how things normally go at these stores, I’d say it’s an improvement.”