No Shin Guards Without a Phone Number

Over the weekend, I went to a Sporting Goods store here in Denver to get some new soccer shin guards for my 7 year old daughter.

I tried to tell her that getting cleated repeatedly in the shins was actually a good learning experience that would serve her well later in life when she grew up and got married and had to work for a living, but she didn’t seem to buy that argument.

So after wandering around this store about the size of a damn football stadium, I found some shin guards and took them to the counter where I was swiftly greeted by a mid 20’s young man sporting goods associate who smiled and said, “Could I start with your phone number, Sir?”

I said, “Why?  Did you want to call me up and ask me out on a date or something?”

Either he didn’t get the joke or just didn’t think it was funny because the perma-smile glued to his face didn’t change at all.

 “No sir”, he said, “it’s just for our records.”

Not wanting to get into a big hassle over 10 dollars in shin guards, I did what I usually do in these situations and gave the guy my office phone number, figuring that when the phone spam service ended up with it, at least they couldn’t interrupt my dinner with sales calls.

After punching the number into his computer, the junior sports associate said, “Uh, sir?  I’m actually showing that as a commercial building phone number and not a residence.”

Great.  Busted by the counter help.

I said, “Well, see, here’s the thing my good man: All I really want to do is buy these shin guards here.  My thought is that I give you 10 dollars, you give me the shin guards and I go on my way.  If I really wanted my phone number to be public information I’d have it tattooed to my forehead or spray painted on the side of my car for everyone to see.  I don’t know exactly what you intend to do with my phone number, but it doesn’t seem like me sharing it with you is a necessary part of this retail transaction, you know?” 

Without even a slight change in expression, Johnny Mc Sportster said, “I see.  Well, if you’d like to talk to my manager, I could have him come over.  You can wait right over there” and he pointed to a large seating area that looked something like the Group W bench for troublemakers and ne’r do wells from that old Arlo Guthrie song.

Spending the rest of my afternoon arguing over corporate retail policy and phone numbers didn’t seem like a really good time investment, so I just said, “Nah, that’s okay.  I’ll just have the kid wear an extra pair of socks to protect her shins”, and I walked out the door.

Apparently, as I get older I’m turning into some strange combination of Ralph Nader and my Grandfather.

Ralph, if you’re reading this:  can you please get my kid some shin guards? 




  • I never give out my phone number in that situation. When they say “can I get your phone number?” I smile and say “nope”. They always just do whatever it is that they do to bypass that screen by entering a code like “PC” or something which I imagine means “paranoid customer” much like the code “CB” we used at the flower shop to inform everyone that this was a “Crazy Bride”. And I would be more than happy to sit on the “group w” bench in order to stand my ground. I mean hey, if Arlo was on that bench, how bad could it be? I love Arlo!

  • I just tell them ‘no’. They don’t have to have it. If they want your business, they’ll just enter x’s instead of your phone #.

  • I always use good old 303–555-1212 (information #)

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