Monthly Archives: December 2013

Steal this blog — 5 things about shoplifting you might not know

Had A Few Beers: This is an interesting article about shoplifting written by a friend that once worked at catching shoplifters at a department store.

Steal this blog!

Take this five-fingered discount on crazy shoplifting stories, just in time for the last minute holiday shopping rush.

5 Stories about Shoplifters You Won’t Believe.

I spent a year-and-a-half working part-time in loss prevention for a retailer that will remain unnamed. This meant tediously monitoring live surveillance feeds for hours, watching shoppers interact with merchandise, and scoping out babes shoplifting.ju.topin low cut tops, punctuated by a few minutes of heart-pounding adrenaline rushes that could make you feel invincible … or just sick. Few rushes compare to catching a shoplifter in the act and then confronting them outside the store. It’s a thankless job. If you do your job right, nobody notices. If you screw up, it’s a black eye or worse, legal liability for your employer. But it gives you insight into a subculture we don’t spend much time acknowledging: Theft. There’s another great blog post out there that explains the rules of shoplifting which would I recommend if you want some more background info on how retail chains handle this phenomenon. Below are the most bizarre stories I encountered in my time with loss prevention.

1.    They never do it out of necessity

I did my time as a loss prevention associate in a military community with a lot of brass. This meant spouses and dependents who were well taken care of and military officers with plenty of disposable income. Supposedly, not the dregs of society. More often than not, it was the lonely housewives or kids looking for a rush that we’d have to pull in and separate from stolen makeup, cheap jewelry, or other frills. They definitely were not stealing items required to sustain basic life.

2.    They’ll hide things anywhere. ANYWHERE!!!

One detective I knew had to stop a woman in her mid-30s or early 40s when she took some cheap jewelry into a dressing room and came out without it. The dressing room was searched and the merchandise was nowhere to be found. He pulled her into the security office and told her she’d been observed taking the item without paying for it. She denied it up and down so he left the room to go into the surveillance room. The woman must not have bothered to think there might also be a camera in the security office with her. She reached down into her pants … deep down … fished around and pulled 20131223-144207.jpgout the jewelry. Then, she took the jewelry off its cardboard backing, ditched the backing under the desk of the security officer and proceeded to swallow the jewelry.  It was all recorded on camera, of course. My friend, the security manager, was dumbfounded. Since they hadn’t actually seen her conceal the item (it happened in the changing room, out of sight of the cameras) they would have had a tough case to prove to authorities. But now, they had her dead to rights. She didn’t see it that way. After the manager rejoined her and picked up the cardboard backing from under his desk, he let her know what she’d done was all on tape. She refused to admit any wrongdoing. It took the authorities’ threats of taking her in for an X-ray to finally get her to fess up. Afterward, the security manager took the soiled cardboard backing back to the surveillance room and flicked it into the hands of the loss prevention associate who’d first suspected the theft, saying “Nice work detective. Now catch another one.”

3.    Shoplifting is a small fraction of the loss that happens every day in retail

The amount of money retail businesses hemorrhage on a daily basis is astounding. The lion’s share of it, though, comes from employee theft. Think about it: You’re on the inside, you work there day-in, day-out, you see the weaknesses, you know when you can get away with it without anyone knowing … or so you think. Another loss prevention manager I knew busted a employee-theft ring for around $22,000 in the course of a couple of months. This one was ingenious. Some kid working back in customer service figured out that if you loaded money onto a gift card, then quickly unplugged the terminal, the money stayed on the card but the transaction would be wiped out of the store’s records. It was like creating free money. Soon word spread and employees started hooking up their friends. How did they get caught? A loss prevention detective got lucky when interviewing an employee for misconduct completely unrelated. The employee rolled on his buddies. If it wasn’t for that dumb luck the store could have lost hundreds of thousands or even millions before anyone were the wiser.

4.    Shoplifting is easy but it’s getting harder

They say, “You never get caught your first time.” Big stores can have hundreds of people shopping and in the security office you have maybe 10, maybe five, maybe one guy watching them all. Or maybe no one is in the security office at all. Then, you have to factor in the places where cameras can’t reach (dressing rooms  or out-of-the-way areas) and the detective’s ability to use the cameras to stay ahead of the customer and get a good shot at the moment of concealment. Catching shoplifters is an art because, well … it’s hard. By the time someone is caught shoplifting, we would assume they’ve done it many times before.  As a security xmasshopliftingofficer you get burned a lot more times, than you get lucky. Now, though, the playing field is leveling out. Advancements in technology are getting down right scary. I once told a shoplifter we had “facial recognition software” to get him to confess to previous shopliftings that had gone undetected. He bought it and owned up to stealing on five other occasions. I thought he was a real mouth breather for believing my line of bullshit, but now I think we’re probably not far off. If I found some pilfered packaging on the sales floor, say a pack for Pokémon trading cards, I could roll back the surveillance video log and figure out when the disposed packaging was left or concealed and get a good picture of who did it. Then I could follow that person around the store and see if they made a purchase. Then, if I saw a purchase was made with a card, I could go into the sales logs and pull the credit card number. Then I could run that through a system called Fraud Watch and pull every transaction made using that card. I could use those transaction logs to go back months and look at video of  every time that person shopped with us, to see if he stole anything else. From there I could build a case to turn over to the authorities — or maybe I just let him keep coming back so I could build a better case and inflate the total dollar amount recouped once he got busted. And this was back in 2009. Today, it wouldn’t surprise me if some stores are looking into facial recognition or any other kind of spooky Big Brother-type stuff in the name of “security.”

5.    Have I emphasized enough that they will put things ANYWHERE?!?!?!

We’d been watching these two women for awhile. Their favorite thing to do was peel discount stickers off clearance items and stick them onto higher value clothing items. This, of course, is illegal. We in the industry called people like this “Sticker pickers.” These two were smart about it, though and they burned us a few times. We kept watching them when they came in and, as usual, they started getting bolder … and sloppy. Sloppy enough for one of them to try to shopconceal some cheap jewelry right in sight of the cameras. So we pull her and her friend into the security office, let them know they’ve been observed taking merchandise without paying, and leave them alone after they deny any wrongdoing. Not a minute after we left the security office to go to the surveillance room where we could watch them on a live feed, the one with the jewelry takes the missing item out of her pocket and down it goes into her pants. Again, we’ve got her on camera, and again the authorities have to threaten to go in after it, but this time the perpetrator decides to call their bluff. A police officer had to take her into the bathroom and step-by-step, instruct her to open up, so the police officer could go after the item with a gloved hand. As the female officer recounted to us after the thieves had been taken away, that was easily the most disgusting call she’d ever been on and yeah, the jewelry thief had been menstruating.

Part Three: Santa’s Night Out — A Tale of Three Deliveries

Had a Few Beers: This is Part Three of a three-part series.  Part One is available here and Part Two is available here )

HAFB-Santa-Bar-Illustration-2013-12-OGMWIG

Part Three

Christmas Morning … the Reckoning

The sleigh was parked peacefully behind the bar. After leaving the Garcia house Santa felt there was again hope.

He was inside the bar, at ease among its torn and worn wallpaper. The barstools wobbled, the TV was out of focus, the bar was uneven and even bartender was indifferent.

It was the only bar open at this hour, so by the process of elimination, it was, well — perfect.

“You need something,” Raoul the bartender asked barely glancing away from the TV.

Santa thought while he lit up another Kool. The memories of the Miller, Johnson and Garcia deliveries flooded back in.

Jesus, this had been the worst Christmas ever and it was supposed to be the easiest.

“Tequila and whatever you have on draft,” Santa answered.

Raoul indifferently served both up and went back to watching the fuzzy TV above the bar.

Santa laughed for a moment as the news station reported his progress back to the North Pole.

After slamming back the tequila, he pulled out his iPhone and checked his Facebook.

My friends are such shit heads, he thought as he scrolled though his newsfeed.

The Easter Bunny’s newest selfie was the first thing that appeared. Santa checked EB’s other updates and it was just selfie, after selfie, after selfie.

Too much cute!

Too much cute!

Why the fuck was this bunny constantly in front of a mirror, taking photos of himself? It was bullshit. You’re a fucking bunny, for the love of all that’s holy. We get it — you think you’re cute. And how fucking easy was his job anyway? Hide a few eggs and a few cheap plastic toys around the house on the night before Easter morning – a robot could do that shit.

Santa scrolled through EB’s photos, it was all the same shit. Cute bunny photo, followed by sexy bunny photo, followed by fake nerdy bunny photo.

The Easter Bunny’s production costs were nonexistent and his continual self-promotion was grinding on Santa’s already frayed nerves. Why the fuck was the bunny constantly making duck lips in each and every photo he took of himself? And was it so hard to ensure the background of those photos was free of dirty clothes, empty food dishes and trash? How could EB’s considerable followers not call these things into question?

“Fuck the bunny,” Santa said out loud.

Raoul turned from the TV and Santa nodded silently toward his empty shot glass. Raoul filled it and went back to the TV without a word.

Santa looked back at his phone and noticed a new red “1” on his newsfeed icon. He clicked it. It was a new update from the Leprechaun. Finally, Santa thought, something from a reputable holiday hero that would have some substance.

Only it didn’t.

The Leprechaun had long since gone political.

This time is was a post railing against the injustices at Guantanamo Bay and advocating that anyone associated with its administration be tried by an international war-crimes tribunal. The post below that argued on behalf of some insurgent group or another in Central Africa. The next post was another call to action after someone tall was sentenced to a shorter stay in jail than a short person convicted of a similar crime. The Leprechaun was having none of that! He was calling for the judge in the case to be assaulted in a very-very violent and anatomically impossible way. The fourth and final post Santa read railed against the NSA, which the Leprachaun alleged spied on everyone.

The last one caused Santa to quietly chuckle. He clicked “Like” hoping this quick, small interaction would feed the half-pint’s paranoid nature. Fuck the Leprechaun and his “pot of gold.” Santa knew the short little shit had blown most of it on hookers and gambling in the early 70s anyway.

Santa was about to shut the damn smart phone off when it happened, the Facebook instant message light lit up.

He clicked open the message and immediately regretted it.

It was from the Tooth Fairy.

Before anyone reading this was even born, the Tooth Fairy and Santa had an affair. Not just a run-of-the-mill affair, but a passionate, tumultuous, turbulent and at-times chaotic affair.

In other words, the bitch was nuts.

delete, delete, delete

delete, delete, delete

“Hey Santa <3< 3 <3 just wanted to say hey!!!!!!! I hope ur not working 2 hard on ur buzy night!!!!!!!! Cupid and I just landed in Bali for a vacation so he can rest up for his busy season in February!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s soooooo pretty here! Thinking of you XOXOXO …”

If eye-rolls made noise, Santa’s would’ve been audible two states away. Cupid’s busy season consisted of ginning up business for the good people at Hallmark and prancing around in a diaper for a few hours. Fact of the matter was, Santa wasn’t all together certain that Cupid wasn’t in fact gay and that his “adorable” wife was nothing more than the type of eye candy required of a person in his line of work.

It pissed off Santa to no end. The Tooth Fairy had so much more potential. There was so much she could’ve done, that they could have done, if she’d said yes when he asked her to marry him those eons ago. But she didn’t and they’d drifted apart. Every millennial or so she’d drop Santa a note and more and more the notes only seemed a cruel and unsuccessful effort on her part to prove what a great and wonderful life she led.

This message was no different. Here she was bouncing around to various vacation destinations without a care in the world. Oh well, it was generally well known in certain circles that she’d long since outsourced her cash-for-teeth program and her “National Tooth Fairy day” initiative (sponsored by who other than Hallmark) was a washed up, dead-on-arrival holiday idea that everyone had long since forgotten about.

Santa drained his second tequila shot and washed it down with his beer. Maybe Mrs. Clause wasn’t so bad after all, he thought. Despite her seemingly incessant naggings, she loved him. She stood by him. She only wanted the best for him.

Something on the TV caught Santa’s eye. He asked Raoul to turn up the volume.

“We have some breaking news from California,” the news anchor said. “It seems the Drug Enforcement Agency gave itself an early Christmas present. In spite of California’s recent legalization of medical marijuana, DEA agents netted the largest marijuana seizure in Sacramento history this morning in a raid at the home of local pot aficionado Juan Garcia. An agency spokesperson credited the raid’s success with the DEA’s cooperation with the NSA …”

The reported continued on as a stunned Santa watched men in black uniforms pour out of the Garcia home. Then, just to confirm it, there was footage of a handcuffed and clearly frightened Garcia being taken out of a police vehicle.

“Jesus Christ, I was just there,” Santa said out loud.

A hooded figure across the bar who’d gone unnoticed up to that point responded.

“The NSA is in everything,” the man said. “Trust me, I know.”

“I don’t get it,” Santa replied. “Why is National Santa Assistance ruining all these people’s lives? I mean sure, I’m down with a little ‘shaming’ for particularly bad boys and girls, but even then I limit it to some coal. None of these families were not bad at all.”

“The National Santa Assistance …” the man questioned.

“Yeah, the NSA,” Santa said as he ordered a beer for him and his new friend and took a seat beside him.

It took a while, but Santa recounted for the man the story of the disastrous deliveries he made throughout the night and how it all seemed to begin with his deal with the NSA.

The man was initially skeptical that Santa was indeed Santa, but after viewing the sleigh, the empty sack of gifts and Rudolf’s disgusting proclivity, he was convinced.

The young man introduced himself to Santa and the name rang a bell in Santa’s head, but he wasn’t sure why. The kid seemed nice enough.

Santa excused himself to take a leak and ran the name through the Naughty or Nice List on his iPhone. Edward Snowden came up on the review list with extra asterisks alongside it. Seems there was evidence he had stolen something. Which in and of itself was of course was very naughty indeed. But it seemed that the something he had stolen was actually something that was potentially safer in Snowden’s hands than in the original owner’s hands.

The case had been marked for executive review by a committee of elf ethics attorneys before the NSA’s miraculous offer to take over Santa’s list.

“Listen Santa,” Edward started when returned to the bar. “NSA doesn’t stand for National Santa Assistance it’s the National Security Agency.”

Then Edward took a few minutes to bring Santa up to speed on the whole NSA situation and with each detail Santa’s jaw dropped a little further.

“So how are you back in the country, why aren’t you still in Russia,” Santa finally asked.

Edward explained that the information he’d “collected” allowed gave him such insight into the NSA’s workings, he was able to slip back into the country from time to time undetected. He knew all the back doors.

“Holy crap,” Santa mumbled to himself drinking in all the information Edward had provided him. Exhausted, he laid his head on the bar for moment to contemplate the wickedness of it all.

“Yeah,” Edward said, “I know, I know. It’s a bitch, but I’m trying to fix it.”

Santa grunted, still stunned from the news. He and Edward talked a few minutes more before Santa excused himself and, after scarfing down a greasy burger from a hole-in-the-wall restaurant next door, he launched the sleigh northward.

Once he was safely airborne, Santa used the phone to call headquarters.

“Executive Santa Division, this is Legolas speaking, how can I help you Santa,” said the elf-formerly-known-as-George.

Jesus, again with the Legolas crap, Santa thought.

“Yeah, ah, Legolas, I need you to help me with something. I need you to access the database that controls who has read/write access to the Naughty or Nice List,” Santa said.

After a brief pause Legolas told Santa he had done such.

“Good Legolas, I need you to remove all NSA access to the list. Can you do that?”

“I can, of course Santa, but that requires that you initiate Santa Operating Procedure number …”

Santa cut him off.

“Look Legolas, would you like an authentic Lord of the Rings Legolas bow and arrow set for being such a good boy?”

This question was followed by several seconds of excited yelling on the other end of the phone. It was obvious to Santa that Legolas would indeed like an authentic Legolas bow and arrow set for Christmas.

“Yes, sir,” he finally said, “I would like that very much, sir.”

“Then yank all NSA access to the Naughty or Nice List. I don’t want there to be any access to the list outside of the traditional, pre-NSA, personnel.

For several moments Santa could hear Legolas furiously clicking on a keyboard.

“It’s done sir, will there be anything else?” Legolas asked.

“Yes, a few things. First I need all NSA incoming calls to the North Pole automatically redirected. Can you do that.”

The elf quickly answered that he could.

“Good Legolas, I want all incoming calls from the NSA directed to the Johnson’s in North Carolina. Also, I need all funds that were transferred into our accounts from the NSA immediately redirected into a general purpose legal defense fund for the Miller and Garcia families. I’ll clear it with the legal team when I get back, but unless I say otherwise, that money can only be used on their legal bills, understood?”

Several more moments passed with furious keyboard clicking by Legolas before the elf confirmed he had done what Santa asked.

“OK, Legolas I need you to take every name associated with the National Santa Assistance organization and put them on the naughty list – with three asterisks by their names.”

This request was met with a gasp on the other end of the line. Legolas was right to gasp, three asterisks next to a name on the naughty list meant one thing, coal for Christmas with extreme prejudice, a fate reserved for only the naughtiest of the naughty.

Several seconds later Legolas reported that the task was complete.

“Anything else, Santa,” the elf asked.

Santa assured him there would not be and wished Legolas a Merry Christmas before hanging up.

Santa checked the onboard computer and only seconds had passed before he noticed the NSA was on to what he had just done, but all of their phone calls had been redirected already to the Johnsons.

“Shoot me in the ass with a BB gun again junior,” Santa laughed.

He checked to make sure his flight path back home was on track before making one more call.

Seconds later a voice came on the line.

“Santa, good to hear from you, we’re tracking you as heading on a course back to headquarters. What can I help you with?”

It was Sara from the warehouse, one of the precious few elves that hadn’t insisted on being called Legolas, and it was a relief for Santa.

“Sara, I’ve got a weird question for you. How many Legolas bow and arrow sets do we have in stock?”

Sara groaned.  “Well Santa we have 637 sets here, none outbound and none inbound.”

“Great, I need every North Pole elf named Legolas to receive one.”

Sara laughed, clicked on her computer and seconds later assured Santa it was done. They would all be under the tree when the elves awoke in a few short hours.

Santa hung up and quickly composed a text to Mrs. Claus not wanting to wake her, but wanting to reassure her if she was still awake and waiting on him

“Be home in less than an hour. Crazy night, you’re not going to believe it when I tell you. No Duck Dynasty for me until the attic is cleaned tomorrow, promise! Love you … see you soon,” it said.

Santa banked the sleigh slightly to the left and down when he felt something tap softly on the heel of his boot. Curious, he fished around under the driver’s seat and found the culprit, an unopened beer had rolled out of its hiding place.

Santa cracked it open, took a good healthy sip and smiled.

It had turned out to be a merry Christmas after all.

Part Two: Santa’s Night Out — A Tale of Three Deliveries

Had a Few Beers:  This is Part Two of a three-part series.  Part One is available here

HAFB-Santa-Amazon-Illustration-2013-12-OGMWIG

 Part 2

Santa flies high in the sky Christmas night

“You goddamn sonofabitch,” Mrs. Claus’ screeched in the voicemail. “Why the hell aren’t you home yet? You had three goddamned deliveries! And Legolas just came to the door looking for the Christmas bonuses. I told him that you were a no-good sonofabitch and guess what — it wasn’t news to him.

“You have to work ONE DAY, Kris! One day of the year, for gawd sake! Call me!”

Santa cringed. She can be such a bitch sometimes, he thought gulping his beer. This beer is delicious, he thought as his sleigh flew over the  Appalachians. Does a red nose up your ass feels good, he wondered as the malt and barley soothed his mood.

“Hey honey, two more deliveries to go,” Santa slurred in the return phone call.

“Are you drunk,” Mrs. Claus demanded.

“No,” Santa scoffed. “That’s ridiculous! Who dets grunk when they’ve got presents to deliver. You’re so silly.”

“Who dets grunk?” Mrs. Claus repeated.

“Huh? Are you drunk,” Santa laughed heartily. “Sweetie, are you drunk?”

“You said, ‘dets grunk’ Kris, I’m not stupid,” she hissed.

“What I said was, I love you. Listen, I’m ahh flying over Lake Michigan and we might lose the signal here. Gotta go!” He slammed the phone down.

Following the debacle in Minnesota, Santa was relieved when at last his sleigh finally touched down outside the Jackson home in North Carolina. This time fewer tree tops fell victim to the sleigh and he only sideswiped  a couple cars as he skidded to a halt outside the rural home.

Santa was relieved the night was nearly half over. Just this delivery and one more and he was finished for the year.

He surveyed the damage he left in his wake before shrugging and grabbing the ever-shrinking bag of gifts.

Wiggling his nose, he was about to walk through the front door when a noise caught his attention.  It was faint at first, but grew increasingly louder by the second. Within moments it became almost deafening.

Something swooped past Santa’s head. He swatted at it wondering what kind of insane rabid bat was attacking him. Something else flew past the other side of his head. He spun around trying to locate it.

Suddenly the air was thick with giant bugs carrying what he assumed were bombs. They were everywhere in an instant. He could barely see the sleigh from the doorstep there were so many.

Santa screamed and thrashed about. He batted at them with his sack managing to kill one and send another careening wildly off into the darkness. In an attempt to escape the assault, he rushed inside and slammed the door behind him. But the gnats were also inside. As he ran toward a door across the room, his foot became tangled in the tree lights and he dragged the tannenbaum behind him as he crawled into a closet.

Panting and panicked in the darkness, he was just getting his bearings when he heard that familiar buzz. Sonofabitch! One of the foul creatures was in there too! Assuming his usual fighting posture, Santa peed a little then thrashed about. The beast was formidable. Its flesh wasn’t like a bug’s at all. It had cold metallic limbs and instead of wings, it had rotors. The cramped quarters were to Santa’s advantage, however. No matter what part of his body he moved, he was able to harm the assailant. In the end, the bug was too small to defeat the hefty Claus and he managed to kill it.

Running his hand along the wall, he found a switch. Light poured into the closet.

The bug wasn’t a bug at all, but a miniature helicopter with the word “Amazon” emblazoned on its side. In a claw it clutched, of all things, a Christmas present.

Santa ticked off the list of Christmas enemies he’d defeated in the past: the HAFB-Santa-Amazon-Illustration-2013-12-OGMWIGGrinch, the Abominable snowman and some asshole named Scrooge. None of them were ingenious enough to make one, let alone millions of these things.

Whoever this Amazon was he was a sonofabitch that was for sure.

“I’ll have to ask the NSA about this,” Santa whispered to himself, his tongue thick with hops and cottonmouth.

The buzzing outside the door hadn’t fully abated when he heard a voice from outside the closet.

“Holy shit, Sue Ellen, the gubbermints finally come after us!”

The words were punctuated by what sounded like a volley of gunshots.

“Yee haw,” the man yelled. “Wake up junior, he’s going wanna get some of dis here action …” which was again followed by several gunshots.

Santa put his hand on the closet’s door knob and slowly counted to three. On three he took a deep breath and rushed out into the living room turned war zone. Besides the toppled tree and crushed decorations, the room was now filled with a thin layer of smoke. The floor was littered with Amazon corpses, some of them still struggling to fly despite their bullet-riddled bodies.

“There’s one of them now, Paw!” called a boy from atop the upstairs.

Santa looked up and saw 8-year-old Junior leveling, what looked to be a Red Ryder carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle at him.

Santa ran desperately toward the front door of the house knowing full well that he would be lucky if he was only hit by a BB. A stinging pain on his left butt cheek forced him to jump a little as he heard the boy cry out, “I got him paw, I got him!”

Santa was barely outside the door when a large chunk of the door’s frame exploded by his head from as another round of the shotgun.

“Come back here mister Ffff Beee Eye man!” called out the father.

There was no time to think. In an instant Santa was in the sleigh, gaining altitude and taking evasive maneuvers. In the process of a terribly sharp bank to the right Santa’s cooler and his uneaten sandwiches disappeared over the side and, with any luck, Santa hoped, fell onto the Jackson’s roof.

Once the sleigh had righted itself and was free of any danger, Santa pointed the navigation system toward the last stop of the night, Sacramento, Calif.

He briefly considered stopping for more beer and a bite to eat, but decided it would be easier to just finish the delivery and call it a night.

Santa gripped the reigns firmly, steeled his face against the cold night wind and raced for California.

Outside a quiet suburban home in Sacramento, Santa had his first flawless landing of the night. Not a single tree top was trimmed, nor were any of the numerous Priuses along the street scratched, dinged or damaged.

The woefully empty toy sack lifted out of the sleigh with ease. Tired, famished and with a sore left ass cheek, Santa strode confidently to the front door, failing to notice a small sign on the curb that read: “Sacramento Medical Marijuana Dispensary, Please inquire within.”

Santa, partly out of exhaustion and partly out of frustration, wasted no time wiggling his nose and opening the front door.

Everything inside was quiet and peaceful. A fire flickered lazily in the fireplace, the lights on the Christmas tree blinked softly and the whole house smelled wonderfully of freshly baked cookies.

“I wonder if…,” before Santa could finish the thought he saw them — an awaiting plate of cookies and a full glass of milk glistened on the mantel. There was even a small note written in crayon by a child.  “For Santa, thank you. From, Tyler.”

Santa could’ve cried. Could’ve, but didn’t. He gobbled down the cookies like a half-starved madman and then gulped the milk just as quickly.

The snack did the trick, taking Santa’s mind off his hunger for a moment as he reflected on the disastrous evening. The Miller and the Jackson deliveries were botched abortions, yet here, finally, Santa had been handed what looked to be a normal house.

There was mistletoe hung above the door to the kitchen. On the fireplace four stockings were lovingly embroidered with names: Mom, Dad, Raymond and Isabelle.

Beneath the trees were presents from Mom, Dad, the kids, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends. Santa took a moment, drinking it all in, even surveying the family photos adorning the walls.

As he became lost in the Norman Rockwell-look of the Garcia home, a beautiful golden retriever came down stairs.

At first glance the dog startled Santa, but he’d long since become accustomed to family dogs and they’d become used to him. The dog wagged her tail and Santa bent down to give her a good thorough scratching behind the ears and on her belly.

The house was just perfect, he thought. This, he knew, would be his moment, his chance to make amends for the mishaps of the last two deliveries.

This house, he told himself, would end perfectly.

Free to conduct the task at hand, Santa knelt down and reached into his bag.

The first gift he pulled out was addressed to the father, and he set it lovingly under the tree. The next was for the mother and he treated that present in a similar fashion. The kid’s gifts were next and he placed each with loving care at the front of the pile of gifts so that they might be seen first.

Gifts in place, Santa stood up and admired his work. It was odd, he’d been doing this sort of thing for countless years, but this particular set of gifts almost brought tears to his eyes.

As he looked at the picturesque scene, oblivious to the world around him, Mr. Garcia, dressed in pajamas came downstairs in search of a midnight snack.

“Whoa, dude, you are real,” Garcia’s voice rang out from behind Santa.

Yeah, Santa got high.  Deal with it.

Yeah, Santa got high. Deal with it.

Santa jumped, but not so much. The serenity of the house had, for once this night, soothed him.

Typically in this sort of situation Santa would have activated his invisibility shield the moment anyone walked into the room, but, for reasons he couldn’t explain, he didn’t.

Instead he giggled.

Santa giggled, and giggled and giggled some more. Garcia giggled too.

“Dude,” Santa finally managed to say, “I’ve always been real, man.”

“I knew it,” Garcia said in hushed tones, “You’re like awesome and stuff. Man, my kids love you. Hell, I love you.”

Yeah,” Santa replied with wide grin and an upnod. “Shit, man I just do …stuff. It’s cool.”

“I totally know you do, bro!,” Garcia said. “You have like THE best job in the world. No doubt.”

Then he paused for a moment to rethink that statement.

“Well, actually,” Garcia snickered. “I have the BEST job in the world.”

It was about this time that Santa realized something was amiss. He suddenly craved Cheetos and had an unbelievable case of cottonmouth.

“Hey,” Santa said, moving in slow motion across the room. “Ya got something to drink?”

“Ohhhh,” Garcia said gleefully bouncing up and down and pointing at Santa, “How you feelin’, vato?”

“I feel funny,” Santa remarked

“Yeah ya do, man, those cookies had some of the dankest bud in Cali in them,” Garcia said, before adding, to no one in particular, “Man, I got Santa stoned!”

Seeing the panic cross Santa’s face, Garcia walked over and put a hand on his shoulder.

“Don’t worry, yo. I won’t let anything happen to you. I’m not gonna be the guy who killed Santy Clogs,” he said.

The next few hours were hazy for Santa. They talked about life, sports, women, toys. They solved countless world ills and brainstormed numerous life-improving inventions. Santa learned what Carne Asada was and Garcia tried, but failed, to open doors with a nose wiggle.

After some time Santa felt good enough to leave and his hunger was a thing of the past, two bags of Doritos and half a cold pizza had seen to that. After promising to stay in touch, the two men parted ways.

Outside, back in his sleigh, Santa took off into the cool morning air.

He wanted a drink, a beer before going home. His mouth felt like it was stuffed with cotton and he wanted just 15 minutes to clear his head of all the night’s activities. The onboard GPS told him there was one bar, just outside of Portland, that was open at this hour on Christmas Day.

“Billy Ray’s it will have to be,” Santa said to the reindeer as he piloted the sleigh north.

(Had a Few Beers: This is the special Christmas update, the second of a three-part series. Be sure to check back soon for the conclusion, or to receive notifications of when this and other updates are published, you can always subscribe using the button on the right.)

Santa’s Night Out — A Tale of Three Deliveries

 

HAFB-Santa-Illustration-2013-12-OGMWIG

Part One

The day before the night before Christmas

Jolly Old St. Nick was surprised when the nice men in suits came all the way to the North Pole from Washington D.C. for a visit. The initials on their business card read “NSA,” which they assured him stood for “National Santa Assistance.”

And what assistance it was! In exchange for unlimited access to his naughty and nice list they agreed to take care of all the Christmas Eve deliveries, even the naughty ones. The way they laughed when they promised “to shoot some coal to all the naughty boys and girls,” struck Santa as a bit odd, but otherwise their offer was a blessing.

Mrs. Claus had been on Santa’s ass for years. She incessantly nagged him to slow down, take it easy and to outsource the delivery of the toys. But if he gave up all the deliveries he’d never get to leave the house. Christmas Eve was his one night of freedom.

christmas-presents

FEDEX is here, FEDEX is here!

“Why can’t you get those lazy elves to take care of the delivery,” she complained as Santa tried to tune her out in front of the TV. “In case you haven’t noticed they haven’t built a goddamn thing in years. Have you seen all the UPS and FEDEX trucks outside their ‘factory?'”

It never ended with her. Just when he was hoping to unwind after a long day of cleaning out the reindeer stalls (and what filthy animals they were!) she’d start in.

It was always the same old shit, at least until the good men from the National Santa Assistance program showed up. This year was going to be different. With the NSA’s help, Santa only had to make three deliveries this Christmas Eve. With any luck he could have those wrapped up by midnight and be back home drinking a cold one before sunrise in Australia.

“You shouldn’t be flying around all night at your age anyway,” Mrs. Claus droned on. “Remember the Christmas you smashed the sleigh into good Mr. Washington’s face on Mt. Rushmore?”

Of course he remembered. A few too many fathers in the Pacific Northwest decided old Santa would appreciate a micro brew instead of milk with his cookies. By the time he was piloting his eight “tiny” reindeer over South Dakota, he was good and drunk — not that he’d ever let the misses know, of course.

Sadly, Rudolf had taken the brunt of the accident and the poor bastard was never the same. While none of the reindeer were exactly bright, Rudolf these days was positively brain damaged. When he wasn’t licking his own poop or drooling on himself, he was constantly trying to shove his glowing nose up Blitzen’s ass and Blitzen didn’t even seem to mind. Jesus, all the damned reindeer sort of freaked Santa out sometimes. Maybe next year he’d skip deliveries all together and butcher the lot of them. Grilling reindeer steaks with a cold one during the summer months had a certain charm.

“…and furthermore, I’ve been asking your for at least six months to clean out the attic,” Mrs. Claus’ shrill voice interrupted Santa’s train of thought. “Kris, are you even listening to me!”

In response, Santa kicked back the recliner and let one rip. Mrs. Claus stormed upstairs.

At least now he’d be able to watch Duck Dynasty in peace before embarking on his “big” deliveries.

One thing Santa was sure of — loading the sleigh for just three families was a lot easier than packing up gifts for 2.18 billion. He even had ample room for a cooler of beer and sandwiches. Normally Mrs. Claus would have made the sandwiches, but she was mad as usual. Seemed every year her attitude became as bad as her ass was wide.

Oh well, he thought. He wasn’t a spring chicken anymore anyway, what with his beer belly, pack-a-day smoking habit and love of anything pork.

Santa had just chain lit a cigarette and cracked open a can of Milwaukee’s Worst when elf Bill sauntered into the barn with a clipboard.

“What’s up, Bill,” Santa asked in as jolly a voice as he could muster.

“I’ve asked you not to call me that,” Bill growled. “My name is Legolas.”

Santa rolled his eyes. None of the elves had been the same since those fucking movies came out. Ever since watching “Lord of the Rings,” each and every one insisted on being called some variation of Legolas. It annoyed Santa to no end.

“Whatever,” Santa said.

“Your refusal to treat our heritage, history and ancestry with the proper respect is very troublesome Mr. Claus. I hope I won’t have to bring it up again to the union?”

Santa hoped not to. The last time that happened it cost him a couple million dollars and — in an agreement he still couldn’t believe was legally binding — he was required to change his name to Golem for a year.

“Fine, Legolas,” he said, stretching the name out as he said it. “Do you want a beer? It’s totally cool because I only have three deliveries this year.”

“I most certainly will not be having a beer, and neither should you,” Bill said. “I’m here to conduct the Christmas Eve pre-flight safety and quality assurance checks as required by the St. Nicholas/Elf Workers Overseas Contract agreement.”

“I know, I know, every time I turn around you Ewocs kick me in the balls.”

Bill missed the Stars Wars reference, thank god. Had he caught it and complained to the union, god knows what it might have cost.

“Knock yourself out, Legolas,” Santa said, tossing an empty can over his shoulder and cracking open a fresh one. Just as he was thinking he could get in a good half-hour nap before taking off, he noticed Rudolf again shoving his shiny red nose up Blitzen’s ass.

HAFB-Santa-Illustration-2013-12-OGMWIG

Twas the night for putting it right in her belly

An hour later, Santa was literally and figuratively “flying high” somewhere over southern Canada on his way to make his three deliveries. The sleigh’s heater was on full-blast and he’d long since stripped down to a slightly stained wife-beater T-shirt. He had headphones on attached to an iPod he “acquired” when he spilled beer on some packages, and 2 Chainz was serenading him with some business about “putting a fat rabbit on a Craftmatic.”

Santa looked at the tag: Too, Johnny. From, Santa.

“Looks like Johnny just made the naughty list,” Santa joked to himself, before flicking the tag out of the sleigh.

Almost immediately, the sleigh’s intercontinental radio crackled.

“Mr. Claus, this is Agent Smith with the National Secur … uh, the National Santa Assistance program. We’ve received information that you’d like to add Johnny Miller to the naughty list? Can you confirm that for us, sir?”

Santa was startled by the question. How the hell did they know that? Man, the Santa Assistance program was on the ball.

“Um yeah, definitely on the naughty list,” he said, taking a swig of beer. “Naughty, naughty, naughty.”

“Understood Mr. Claus, we’ll take care of Johnny immediately. Thank you. You’re a great American. Over and out.”

The radio went dead before Santa could explain he was only joking (and that he was in fact Canadian), but it wasn’t really important. No need to bring down the sweet vibes of 2 Chainz.

As Santa softly banked the sleigh to the right, empty beer cans rolled around in the back. Santa leaned back in the seat, put his feet up on the dash and sang along, “I put it straight in her belly!”

Some minutes later, a dashboard light came on indicating the sleigh was about to start its decent into the northern United States. Not noticing the light, Santa blissfully sipped on his beer while vaguely wondering how many cans he could fill with pee if he had to go badly enough.

It wasn’t until the sleigh almost clipped a light pole that he realized what was happening and by that point it was tragically too late. The sleigh crash landed atop a restored ’57 Chevy wrapped in a bow.

Beer cans spilled onto the street as Santa clumsily disembarked and stumbled into the shadows in case anyone heard the racket. When the coast was clear, he crept out from his hiding spot and grabbed a sack of gifts. He flung the oddly lightweight bounty over his shoulder with such force that it flew out of his hand. On unsteady feet he climbed into a holly bush to retrieve it.

“What the fuck,” Santa simultaneously hiccuped and giggled.

As he surveyed how to get into the house since the chimney was on the roof and his drunk ass was on the ground, he was too preoccupied to notice an ominous-looking black van outside the Millers or to see three armed men dragging a wriggling boy.

Just moments before Santa’s arrival, the three Miller children had been assembled in their family’s living room four houses away. There was the youngest, Stephanie, 4, and the apple of her father’s eye; the middle child, a bookish, but adorable Mary, 10; and finally the athletic and zealous 16-year-old Johnny.

Their parents, Craig and Kim, were trying to coax the kids to bed.

Craig thought Kim had a little too much wine at this point, nearly three glasses, but said nothing.  It was Christmas Eve after all and it had been a good year for him as an investment banker. Still, it wasn’t as good a year as his neighbor Mark Markson’s. A cherry ’57 Chevy sat in that driveway.packageclipart

“Now children,” Craig said slowly, enjoying the moment, “do you know what happens if Santa gets here and you’re awake?”

“No Santa,” Stephanie said.

Craig was about to answer when everything went wrong — very, very wrong.

Through the front door stormed shouting armed men in black uniforms.

“Freeze motherfuckers,” someone yelled. “On the fucking ground right now, you fucking douche bags,” yelled another.

Five more, assault rifles in hand, pushed past Craig chasing after Johnny who fled up the stairs.

“I said get on the ground motherfuckers” another officer yelled, the bead of his laser-sighted rifle catching Stephanie betwixt the eyes.

The frightened family complied.

“OK, which one of these assholes is Johnny,” one of the officers asked another.  The two then stared at a grainy cell phone surveillance photo showing Johnny with Stephanie in line to see Santa at the mall.

“We got him,” a man atop the stairs declared as Johnny struggled under his grip. “The dirtbag’s right there.”

The chaos in the house was so loud, that no one heard as Santa missed his landing outside.

A sober or slightly less drunk Santa would have realized he was at the wrong house, but a sauced Santa thought nothing of it as he futzed around with the door lock at the Marksons. It was a solid 15 minutes before he remembered all he needed to do was twitch his nose and the door would open.

“Jesus Christ, Kris,” he muttered to himself, then laughed and repeated, “Christ Kris, Christ Kris, Christ Kris.”

After taking a leak in a dormant bouganvilla bush he was making his way inside when he heard the screams from the Miller house.

“Why are you taking him,” Kim Miller pleaded as two men ushered her crying son to the van. “He hasn’t done anything.”

Santa quickly slammed the door and rushed to peek out the blinds. He could see a crush of men emerge from the Millers. Then the van sped away.

“I gotta get the fuck out of Dodge,” he whispered as he reached into his bag and flung presents at the tree.

Once the Millers were back inside, Santa stumbled off the porch and commenced to yanking the sleigh off the Chevy. Rudolf’s propensity toward tossing Blitzen’s salad made the task a bit more difficult.

As he prepared for takeoff he noticed the voicemail light on his dashboard blinking.

“Christ,” he thought ripping open a new beer and hitting “play” as the sleigh ascended into the black sky.

(Had a Few Beers: This is the special Christmas update, the first of a three-part series. Be sure to check back  this later this week for part two, or to receive notifications of when this and other updates are published you can always subscribe using the button on the right.)

Stop dropping F bombs. No not those F bombs, the other friggen F bombs

OK, OK, I get it.  The word “faggot” is now officially off the table.  Like racial slurs, “faggot” is hateful and intones homophobic beliefs.  And let’s be honest (lesbionics?), anyone in this day and age who still harbors homophobic beliefs is fucking gay … oh wait. They’re fucking retarded … crap.

You know, it’s getting harder and harder to swear these days without detonating linguistic land mines that potentially color the speaker (me) in a thick hue of bigotry, intolerance or insensitivity.

And that fucking sucks.

Thankfully, “fuck” is still on the table, but what exactly does something “sucks” imply?  That question is food, or at least liquid, for thought. Does the term “sucks” refer to blow jobs? Could blow job aficionados find it offensive?   I really should survey some to get a feel for their stand on the matter.

Truth be told, I’ve never really used the term “faggot” much, if at all.  I honestlycan’t remember the last time I said “fag” or “faggot.”  But I’ve sure as hell heard it used, and a lot of times the person using the term doesn’t mean it as a homophobic statement.

He is in fact, Fabulous.

He is in fact, Fabulous.

Recently, as you’re likely aware, Alec Baldwin got dick punched for calling a paparazzi a “faggot cocksucker,” which yeah, that’s bad. The first transgression was committed the moment the term “faggot” left his piehole. He simply ensured that the court of public opinion would convict him by tacking on “cocksucker” at the end.

That’s pretty fucking straight forward right there. Calling someone a “faggot cocksucker” doesn’t leave a lot of room for interpretation does it?

I’ve wanted to write something about the word “faggot” for a while now. I wanted to do it mainly because two of my favorite comedians both did very funny bits regarding the word.

Louis C.K brings up a very good point when he says most of the time when one guy calls another guy a faggot he doesn’t literally mean that guy is gay, he means that guy is being a fucking faggot. I’m never going to do his comedy justice so just watch the clip here. I’ll wait.

Joe Rogan , who I’ll be the first to admit has mired himself in controversy over the term “faggot” offstage,  still had a funny, and serious, bit about the word. But he’s “retired” the word even after saying he doesn’t mean it as a homophobic slander.

As you may well know, the term “faggot” dates back to approximately 1250 AD and is defined as a bunch of stick.

How the hell did that even work? Everything in the middle ages was fucking weird.

Old English was kind of weird ...

Old English was kind of weird …

“Geoffrey, after I’m done burning this witch at the stake I’m going to stop by your hovel so we can go into the village to drink grog.”

“That sounds lovely William, but sadly I have to pick my wife’s small pox scabs this evening.”

“You’re such a bundle of sticks, Geoffrey.”

Kind of lacks punch doesn’t it? Unless by bundle of sticks they meant “bundle of dicks,” in which case, great slam William!

A lesser-known fact about the word “faggot,”  according to dictionary.com, is it also once referred to a contemptuous woman. If I was into making misogynistic jokes that would pretty much write itself.

Anyway, I think the point (as if I even had one to start with) is that we need a new word for “faggot,”  one that has the same hard-hitting “sick burn, bro” feeling without all the “I disapprove of what you do in the privacy of your own home with your dedicated life partner.”

I’m at a loss. I don’t have any idea what kind of word fits that description. I doubt it exists, frankly. This is normally the part where I’d suggest some stupid made-up word to use in place of “faggot,”  a word like “kerfufflebumhead,” but let’s be honest, that’s fucking retarded and it never works.

Some people will say that if someone is smart enough, he should be able to say what he wants without resorting to swearing.

Well I’m not that fucking smart, you fucking fucks.

When discussing how to conclude this faggy … err I mean dumb, blog entry, Fran again came to my rescue with this gem, which I think says it all:

One could argue you should be able to convey your thoughts without cursing, but where’s the fucking fun in that?

You tailor your language to your audience. If you’re talking to a professor of economics you may say something one way. If you’re talking to a bartender you say it another.

But no one can deny that the bartender’s language is clearer and to the point. A spade is a spade, if you will.

I found an article where a professor of economics was dismayed to learn lecturers were presenting “things that are known to be untrue.”

You could wonder what’s meant by that statement. (I was too bored to read the article to find out.)

But if he’d just said, ‘They’re spreading a bunch of fuckin’ lies,’ there’d be no question about what he meant. He means the assholes are lying.”

Which is pretty fucking brilliant, if you ask me.