There are a lot of things we believe that are just not true. It is not against the law to cut a tag off of your pillow or say a prayer inside a public school building. Cutting your hair does not make it grow faster. Starbucks does not train their employees to mess up your name on your cup in order to trick you into advertising for them. These things can be used in our art work to make a character seem silly or gullible, or as a piece of dialogue that reveals the gullibility of others.
But there are other things we think are silly, just our imagination, or untrue that are actually reasonable and real. Creating a character or persona who doesn’t believe these six things will result in a very different song, story, play, film, poem, or routine. Use one or more in your next project, or just look them over and find out if you, or your friends, believe any of the misconceptions.
There is a legitimate reason for cashiers to verify if your cash is real for small purchases.
You’re out running errands, and suddenly feel too thirsty to wait until you get home. You already paid for your groceries, but want to grab a soda from the cooler before you go, using the cash you keep stashed in the back of your wallet to pay for it instead of swiping your debit card again. Before handing you back your drink and change, the clerk checks to make sure the bill from your wallet is not counterfeit.
“Come on,” you think to yourself. “ They’re just doing this to be difficult. If I knew how to counterfeit money, and I were willing to risk the jail time, I’d be treating myself to something a lot nicer than an extra soda to drink in the car on the way home.”
But there is a good reason for the clerk’s action. Counterfeiters often do make small purchases with fake money. This is done to get the cashier to give them back real money for their fake bill. If the counterfeiter “breaks” a phony fifty or hundred by pretending he has no other way to pay for a two or three dollar purchase, the clerk is going to hand him $47 or even $97 or $98 real dollars, along with the item, making that item…and the cash he gets back in change…free to him.
Your soda does taste better at McDonald’s.
There is plenty of soda in your fridge. You buy a bottle or two, or a case, from the grocery store every week or so and keep it on hand as a regular drink. Or maybe there’s no soda in your fridge, because you’re not much of a soda drinker. But unless you never touch the stuff, you probably order a soda when you go to McDonald’s. It just tastes especially fresh and flavorful there.
Some contend that it’s nothing more than the power of association. McDonald’s food is a treat for most of us. It’s a break from cooking and washing dishes if we go through the drive through on the way home, or a little treat from Door Dash or Uber Eats if we have it delivered. The soda tastes better because it’s part of your treat. But McDonald’s soda is slightly different than the soda you get anywhere else. The Coca-Cola company ships most of its syrups in plastic packaging. McDonald’s soda syrup is shipped to them in steel tanks. This impacts the flavor of the syrup. McDonald’s also keeps both the syrup and the water much colder than other restaurants before putting the products into the soda fountain, which maintains the carbonation longer.
Those flags for ridiculously small purchases on your debit or credit card are for your financial safety.
The reward points on a credit card can be redeemed for something you’ve been wanting, so you take out the card, promising yourself you will only make purchases totaling the amount of spare cash you have on hand, and will pay everything off before it generates interest. But soon after activating the card, you find such a good deal on the item, you forget about the points and stash the card in your desk drawer. Several weeks later, you decide to use the card after all, and make a small purchase at the mall an hour away from your hometown. The credit card company flags your account and stops the purchase.
Your reaction is similar to the one you had over the counterfeit cash screening. This seems ridiculous. You think credit card company employees simply don’t have enough to do and must be flagging things at random, just to keep busy. Surely they don’t think someone would go through the trouble and the risk to steal a credit card, only to get two CDs or a new set of pans for the kitchen at the mall.
Except that this is exactly what identity thieves do with stolen credit cards. The first purchase isn’t typically the high end designer wardrobes, massive video game collections, or trips to Vegas we think of when we picture identity theft. The thieves start by making one or two small purchases, both to see if the charge will go through, and to test whether or not you carefully monitor your statement.
Your hair does grow slightly faster in the summer.
When you said you needed yet another haircut or trim last summer, everyone probably brushed it off as you just wishing you could get out more, hoping that your salon would return to normal soon, boredom, or a combination of those factors. And they were likely right, though our hair does grow slightly faster in the summer. This is due to the peak of our hair’s growth cycle coinciding with the summer months. We are also usually a bit healthier in the summer. The summer of 2020 was of course different, but in most summers, we get out and get fresh air more. We walk places rather than drive more often, or we take walks. Picnics, barbecues, and events in city parks lower our stress level. Increased sunlight lifts our mood. None of this is directly related to hair, but we tend to have healthier hair when our overall health improves.
Binge watching tv shows actually can help reduce stress.
In the past, we watched tv shows once a week, on the day and time they aired. If we liked an old show, we might get to watch two or three episodes each night on a “classic tv” station. The opportunity to watch several episodes in a row only came up if a tv station held a “marathon” of a certain show. Once videocassettes and DVDs came along, we could often rent or even buy whole series and sit and watch them all day if we wished. But all of that took at least some effort. You had to go and buy the tapes or discs. Now, thanks to streaming services, the opportunity to watch multiple episodes of a show in a row is as easy as a click of the remote.
Psychologists and licensed professional counselors repeatedly warn that doing this excessively is not good for our mental health. We’re all seeing the detrimental effects isolation can have on us due to the current public health crisis, and making that even worse by spending entire days completely alone staring into a screen is not going to improve things. And of course it’s never good to sit around for days instead of getting exercise, stay up too late because you’re watching something, or skip showers and meals to watch tv. They note that “I was binge watching my show to relax,” has become an excuse for neglecting important details in your life.
But some experts note that, if done within reason, binge watching really can relieve stress. It does this by taking you out of the world for a while, allowing you to focus on a story instead of the news or your bills or whatever else is weighing on your mind. It can also improve your social life, especially now, when we’re all stuck at home, by giving you something to talk about with others.
Store employees who ask to see your receipt really do have to ask…just not for the reason you might think.
Though the practice has faded down in recent years, with many stores abandoning it altogether, we can all remember when certain big box stores featured “greeters” waiting to ask to see your receipt as you exited the store.
This can feel insulting, as though they’re treating you like a thief. It also seems to be a pointless waste of their time.
“I don’t steal,” you think. “But if I were going to steal something, I would destroy the packaging that set off the alarm and conceal the item, not parade past half the store’s employees with the packaged item sitting in my cart.” And you would be right. Somebody standing in the doorway reading your receipt for tissues, toothpaste, and a new throw pillow is not going to do anything to stop theft, except maybe send the message to would-be thieves that the employees are watching them.
But it is true that the employee is required to check, for reasons that have to do with them, not you. In most cases, the person tasked with checking receipts at the doorway of a store has the lowest level job in that store. They get paid the least, and get bossed around by everybody from the cashiers to the floor associates to the customer service managers who actually are their supervisors. While there is absolutely no reason for any store employee to raise their voice at you, block your path out of the store in any way, embarrass you, or treat you like you’re doing something wrong when you aren’t, the person needs to do something that constitutes “checking the receipt” in order to keep their job. And they are often being monitored by several other employees in the store.
Much of what we read, hear, or experience and think “that’s ridiculous,” actually is ridiculous. Healthy skepticism and critical thinking is a good thing, and is especially important at a time when believing wildly farfetched stories about serious issues backed up by nothing more than other people yelling …or posting..nonsense can be harmful to ourselves and others. But every once in a while, the absurd, silly, or useless turns out to have a legitimate reason behind it.