Category Archives: Gender-bending

The name game

Here are some interesting statistics for you:

Approximately two-thirds of the people I serve make payments using EFTPOS. A further half of this group pay by credit.

Three-quarters of the time, processing credit transactions is uneventful, but occasionally (that is, a quarter of the time), I find details that are worth filing away for future reference, for moments like this when I can write about them.

All checkout staff are required to match the scribble customers make on the credit slips with the scribble on the back of the customer’s credit card. Up until two weeks ago, I used to conduct only random checks (i.e. checking three-quarters of the time). This negligence, if you would like to think of it that way, was often due to time constraints.

Two weeks ago, however, a woman I served told me that she had her credit card stolen not too long ago and that because a checkout operator had not compared the signature on her card with the slip that was signed, the thief stole a lot of her money. She then gently chastised me and asked me to properly check everyone’s cards in the future.

Scared into compliance, I have since taken the time to examine signatures on every card that comes through me. And I haven’t even pretended to check on any occasion either – you can’t really pretend to conduct a thorough inspection without actually doing it.

In my time on checkouts, I have seen a great variety of signatures. Some have been microscopic, others so large that only the centre third was visible on the relevant strip on the back of their credit card. I’ve processed elegant signatures, messy ones, and ones written in languages other than English.

None, however, were as ridiculous as one customer’s, whose signature was comprised of a bunch of loops and a figure eight repeated over itself about eight times over. Now that was pure silliness. I had to cough back a snicker.

My father has a peculiar way of asking people to sign documents. He puts the sheet(s) in front of them, points to the appropriate place, and says, ‘Can I have your autograph?’

Every bloody time, he says ‘Autograph’ instead of signature. Every time.

I don’t say anything, I just place the slip in front of customers and they seem to know what to do from there. Signing is the easy part, it seems. Working out what buttons to press and which way to swipe the card is the tricky bit.

Today, I may have processed my strangest credit transaction yet. The customer was an elderly woman, amiable and good-mannered. The transaction was as normal as any other up until it came for me to compare her credit card with the credit slip.

Now, I only looked at it for a brief second, just long enough to make sure that the squiggles and curves of both signatures resembled one another, but I could swear that the name she had signed and the name on the back of the credit card was Victor.

I looked up from the card and the slip and met her eyes. She simply smiled benignly so I proceeded with the rest of the process.

As I stuffed the credit slip into the til, placed the pen in its usual spot, and waited for the receipt to be churned out, I recalled an old movie about a gender-bender, a movie I haven’t watched but whose poster I have seen. It’s called Victor/Victoria. At the time, I couldn’t remember who it starred, but in looking up the details now the film was released in 1982 and features Julie Andrews in the lead role.

It is possible that there are females wandering about who are called Victor, but until now I had yet to meet one.

On another occasion, I served someone who had the exact same name as an old primary school friend, but that’s not as interesting as the case of Victor. More interesting than the school friend coincidence, someone else had the name of a popular country singer. The name escapes me; country’s not my thing. But again, there’s nothing subversive about that.

I’ve yet to actually serve a transsexual – as far as I’m aware, anyway. But when the time comes, I do hope that they’ll pay by credit.