Who Are You?

squirrel drivers license

Identification.  Don’t leave home without it.  If you’re in the younger set, you can’t drink or tuesday tvlegally gamble unless you can prove your age.  Government issued picture ID only, please… oh, and make sure it’s valid, because we all know you can’t tell a person’s age from an expired driver’s license.

True story: 16 years over the legal gambling age, I was nearly refused entry to a Kansas City casino two years ago because they thought my driver’s license was expired.  I was in a state that had no concept of Illinois’ sticker renewal program, and all our little stickers the Secretary of State provides us to affix cling to the back of our ID cards say is “This license is valid four years beyond the printed expiration date”.  Nevermind how phony that may appear, why in the fuck does ID have to be valid to confirm proof of age?  The picture still looks like me, and my date of birth doesn’t change every time I visit the DMV…

It just seems like I've lost a few years of my life in the process.

It just seems like I’ve lost a few years of my life in the process.

It wasn’t all that long ago that ID was required for credit card purchases, and it’s always been a must for checks.  Even in 2014, there are still people who waste our valuable time writing checks in the express lane.  The concept of the debit card was finally floated around in mid 90’s to allow customers to swipe a card backed by one of the major credit card companies that automatically deducted the purchase price from their checking account, and ensure that MasterCard and Visa would rake in even more swipe fees that got passed along to the consumer…

Ch-Ching!  Somewhere out there, Morgan Freeman just for $3.00 richer.

Ch-Ching! Somewhere out there, Morgan Freeman just for $3.00 richer.

In 1996, Visa launched the Visa Check Card, a predecessor to the ubiquitous debit cards we know and love tolerate today that are issued by our own banks.  They came up with a rather clever and hilarious ad campaign to help get people to sign up for this amazing new use for a magnetic strip on plastic.  Here is the original commercial that launched the series:

For those not familiar with American sports, Deion Sanders was famous in the 90’s for being one of those rare athletes who played two professional sports (baseball and football) at the same time.  “Prime Time”, as he was nicknamed, was just as well known for his flashiness and his ego… and you can see them both on display in this commercial where he meets an adoring fan at the checkout counter…. who still demands that his idol provide ID to pay with a check.

Yeah, Deion.  No, it's D-E-I-O-N... yeah, I think it's phony too.

Yeah, Deion. No, it’s D-E-I-O-N… yeah, I think it’s phony too.

How ironic that even the most uberfamous people in the world are not immune to the ironclad policy of providing ID to write a check.  Nevermind that Deion probably just came from a restaurant where he didn’t have to pay the check like all the other regular folks whose autograph on a egghand football helmet is worthless.  Also, forget that Deion Sanders probably doesn’t even own something so bourgeois as a checkbook.

Deion probably has $81.49 in the cupholder of his Jaguar outside.

Deion probably has $81.49 in the cupholder of his Jaguar outside.

The same gag was used by Visa for several years with different real and not-so-real celebrities in the “not famous enough to not need ID” role, like Tony Bennett, Kevin Bacon, James Bond, and even Daffy Duck.  But while writing the latest chapter of my Millionaire saga last Friday where I was scavenging the wild streets of New York City looking for food, it was hard not to think of this 2003 ad in the series with basketball star Yao Ming and baseball legend Yogi Berra…

Yo!  Absolutely no fried chicken in New York City, yo?

Yo! Absolutely no fried chicken in New York City, yo?

With all these hoops to jump through just trying to write a simple check, it’s a wonder this troublesome form of currency ever became as big as it did.  It’s hard to believe these untrusting retailers didn’t demand that using cash required a signed note from the President and Vice President of the United States promising the “full faith and credit” that keeps our fiat currency economy afloat was valid… which brings me to this interesting anecdote that may or may not be true, but is widely told…

If you understand this Mr. Fuddle reference, or even remember the awesome Turkey TV, then I just want to say that I fucking love you to death!

If you understand this Mr. Fuddle reference, or even remember the awesome Turkey TV, then I just want to say that I fucking love you to death!

In 1979, U.S. Treasury Secretary Werner Michael Blumenthal was hosting a dinner party in a San Francisco restaurant.  When Secretary Blumenthal offered his credit card to pay for the check, he was informed that the card was expired and couldn’t be accepted.  So Blumenthal offered an out of state check, probably from the Bank of Peanut Oil and Billy Beer in President Jimmy Carter’s home state of Georgia.  No go, the snotty waiter demanded some ID… some damn good ID, or a lot of important people were going to be washing dishes all night long.  The waiter was probably the only registered Republican in all of San Francisco.

An exasperated Blumenthal finally whipped out his wallet and pulled out a dollar bill to show the stubborn server.  Why?

Because I'm the fucking Secretary of the Treasury, you moron!!!  Expect an annual IRS audit from not until hell freezes over!

Because I’m the fucking Secretary of the Treasury, you moron!!! Expect an annual IRS audit from not until hell freezes over!

The waiter compared the signature on the check to Blumenthal’s signature that appeared in the lower right corner of every Series 1977 piece of paper currency ever issued, and was satisfied that the check might clear the bank.  See what kinds of interesting stories we will no longer have now that debit cards have taken over at the register?  Once again, technology has ruined everything…

Hold on, let me bring up my Gravatar... that should satisfy you that I'm who I say I am!

Hold on, let me bring up my Gravatar picture… that should satisfy you that I’m who I say I am!

About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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20 Responses to Who Are You?

  1. This is one brilliant piece of writing – and I learned a bunch of stuff I didn’t know. Thank you. I loved the story about Blumenthal’s signature. I will be sharing this with friends.

  2. The Cutter says:

    I was once denied service in a bar because my license had apparently expired. I’m not sure how the waiter even thought to look, but I’m glad he did since I probably wouldn’t have noticed for a while.

    And don’t worry, the story has a happy ending: We moved to a different bar with less observant staff and I got my beer.

    • It was probably in their training. Even though I have never run a register (How many 16 year Mecca vets can make that claim?) I still had to take the Alcohol and Tobacco compliance training module numerous times… and an expired license is supposedly one of the leading indicators of a fake ID. Ummmm, OK.

  3. We just got back from the grocery store. Tuesday is senior discount day. They were actually checking IDs to make sure you were old enough for their lousy 5% discount. Like we don’t LOOK old enough? The grey hair, canes and walkers aren’t enough?

    • Carding for the senior discount is just plain cruel! I’d rather see the kids carded when their parents try to pass them off as 5 years younger than they are to get a cheaper meal!

  4. I haven’t been carded too many times after 21…probably because I looked 21 when I was 16. But I was asked to show my ID to buy liquor 2 weeks before my 30th birthday. I thought he was kidding and started laughing. He was serious! I almost kissed him and then proceeded to point out that my 30th birthday was only 2 weeks away….LOL! Yeah…he made my day, week, year! HA! 🙂

    • Our cashiers are told to card anyone who even appears to be under the age of FORTY! I’m ot sure most bartenders would go that far, but that’s how it’s supposed to go in the retail part of the booze business…

  5. HeeHee Class….none! Not true but funny. Most informative!

  6. 1jaded1 says:

    Very funny. Yes, it’s so annoying when people in other states don’t understand the Illinois sticker renewal program. So much for being a safe driver.

    • True… it isn’t much of a reward. And usually long before the extra four years is up, the crappy sticker’s ready to come off the back of the card. Doesn’t make it look any more legit…

  7. draliman says:

    With the first Visa debit card in 1987, cheques in the UK fortunately fell out of use at supermarket checkouts so no more waiting for people to write them out (though in the latter days the checkout printed the details onto the cheque). In fact shops and restaurants no longer accept cheques at all, for the most part – you can only use them through the post to pay bills. And of course with chip-and-PIN nobody has to sign anything any more. Boring, but fast (as long as you can remember your PIN) 🙂

    I loved the story about Blumenthal – puts me in mind of that bit in “Coming to America” – “No, he has his own money”!

  8. NotAPunkRocker says:

    You, ooh, you, ooh
    ’cause I really wanna know

    There are good songs to get stuck in your head, and great ones. This is great.

    Turkey TV looks very familiar, I just can’t place it right now.

    I remember learning how to fill out checks in school, but they don’t teach that now (as I found out when I gave Matthew one for school). It’s all about the plastic now.

    • “Who Are You?” has (most of the time) been the song played during the introduction of the visiting lineups at Busch Stadium since 1996. I love how they use it there, and hated when they switched to “What’s Your Name?” the past couple years (But The Who are back this year… YAY!)

      It baffles me how Turkey TV has been largely forgotten by the same group of kids who still idolize YCDToTV… they were practically sister shows on Nick in the mid 80’s, and even used a lot of the same actors! I tried desperately to find a graphic of King Wino von Fishlips from the Hap Hazard segment for a post a few weeks ago, and got totally shutout…. WTF?

      I remember learning how to fill out a check. Sigh… I wonder if they still teach how to read an analog clock in grade school?

  9. PigLove says:

    WOW – This is deep today and very interesting. I actually learned some things I never knew. You know what else is interesting? This little piggy has never been carded. Perhaps I need to get me some identification. You know just in case I’m out and get asked – snorts. XOXO – Bacon

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