Off Target

I saw a really weird thing when I went to Target the other day.

A short line.

Ha ha, just kidding.

Of course I’m kidding. Nobody’s ever seen a short line at Target. That would imply a fast Target worker, and the workplace Olympics regularly have Target workers vying for last place against the DMV workers in the 10- item dash.

Not that I blame them. It’s not like working harder and getting this particular batch of customers out the door quicker is going to have any bearing on the next fifty people in line or get them to the end of the day any faster. They don’t get bonuses for checking out more than one customer per interval. That being said, just because they’re paid by the hour doesn’t mean that should be their target transaction time. I mean, the cashier at the grocery store is also paid by the hour, and yet he manages to scan and bag the ice cream before it’s milk.

Instead of being clock-based, the strangity I witnessed at the Target was of the visual nature. A redesign, if you will. And not one of those “reverse the layout of the store” that Target likes to fuck over their regulars with every nine months or so. “Oh, you finally figured out that we put the Brita bottles in the sporting goods section, but their filter replacements in kitchen? Well guess what, now they’re both in office supplier. Let’s see how many products happen to fall into your basket before you find that one specific item you came in for.”

No, I’m pretty used to those types of redesigns, too. They drive Wife crazy because she usually knows which items are on which aisles better than the actual employees. I shop there rarely enough that I assume it’ll be a half-hour of aimless wandering any time I enter.

No, the thing that freaked me out on this Target visit was brown.

I don’t mean I saw something that was brown. Don’t worry, nobody had lain a deuce upon the shoe aisle. There weren’t selling rusted bicycles or crusty toilet-bowl cleaner.

The brown was painted on the walls. And the front of the store. It was all around me. And brown, I shall remind you, is most assuredly NOT red.

That’s right. I saw a color other than red at a Target.

Strange things are afoot at the circle-around-the-dot.

And this wasn’t just a display or at the Starbucks that is now contractually obligated to be inside every Target. Starbucks are now as ubiquitous at Target as syphilis at a hookers’ convention. And probably more expensive.

Wait, hookers have conventions, right? I assume they have breakout sessions on tracking customer orders through the DickYou App and chafing and, naturally,  cosplay.

So yeah, the Target had been repainted brown. Where once (and always) there was the garish, ruby red of fresh blood now stood a deep mahogany of an unhealthy motoroil shit.

Am I the only one who gets motoroil-looking shit? Maybe that’s a post for another time.

Better yet, maybe not.

At first I thought the new paintjob was at the behest of the strip mall that contained it. The one across the street had just redone everything from a tan to a white, so maybe this stripmall was forcing all of its tenants into with a darker shade to follow suit. I know sometimes these are written into the contracts of tenants. They usually only pertain to the various dry cleaners and sandwich shops. The tenants who center the entire shopping center and have universally-acknowledged color schemes usually get a pass. Because who’s ever heard of a brown Target?

But then last weekend we were on the other side of town, visiting non-Target store – you know, the type of store that doesn’t average one location for every 10,000 residents, such that one has to travel more than a half-mile to get to it. Of course, there was a Target next door. With a Starbucks in it. Not to be confused with the Starbucks with the drive-thru in the same parking lot.

And THIS Target was a deep brown, too. What the hell?Isn’t a non-red Target referenced in the Book of Revelations? Did the zombie apocalypse start without me?

Never mind. We all know the zombie apocalypse will start in Wal-Mart. In fact, it might’ve started there years ago, but nobody’s noticed because they resemble everyone else in the Wal-Mart. Plus, Targets are safe from the zombie apocalypse because the cashiers move so slow that the zombies can’t key see them.

When I remarked on a second brown Target in town, Wife mentioned that the one near her work has similarly moved down the color spectrum.

It’s official. Target’s moving from blood to mud.

So come here, Target. I’ve got something to say to you. A little bit closer…. Like we’re pals…. SMACK!

Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you?

You’ve spent decades creating a recognizable brand and now you’re shirking it. Did y’all just get bored? Disney ain’t losing the mouse ears anytime soon, even if they’re totally freaking out that “Steamboat Willie” will enter the public domain in another three years. Starbucks actually took the word Starbucks off of their logo, but kept the mermaid. I think my daughter asked about “coffee mermaid” long before she could recognize Mickey. That’s the power of a logo.

And I know what you’re going to say,  Target. That your logo is still intact. Whether red or brown, that single circle surrounding a solid circle is your equivalent of Mickey Mouse. After all, your eternal buddy Starbucks took the word “Starbucks” off of their logo, and are just now using what my daughter was calling the “Coffee mermaid” long before she could enunciate Mickey Mouse. That’s the power of a logo.

Unfortunately, Target, I’m here to tell you that’s bullshit. I’ve known the coffee mermaid. The coffee mermaid was a good friend of mine. And you, dot with a circle around it, are no coffee mermaid. Your “Target” might as will be a curling house. My daughter requests Mickey Mouse pancakes. She’s never asked for a Target pancake. If I made pancakes of a Target logo, her best guess would probably be a Saturn pancake. And she doesn’t even know what Saturn is yet.  She’d probably call it a fucked up pancake. And she DEFINITELY doesn’t know that word yet.

(No, don’t check my Alexa song history and see how many times I’ve listened to “Little Lion Man” with my daughter in the room.)

Target, you more or less owned a color and you don’t want it anymore. One day I wore a red shirt with khaki pants to work. I usually stick with tried and true color combos. Tans go with browns, greys go with blacks. One day, I put on tan pants and, to be daring, I grabbed a red shirt. For some reason, I felt safe with this combo, like I knew it wouldn’t be questioned. A student said I looked like a Target employee, at which point I realized how I knew the combo would work. I’ve seen it a million times.

Then my student wondered, if I looked like a Target employee, why I was moving around the classroom and working.

You know what, Target? I stand corrected. Change all the color schemes you want. You’ll always have a motif that’s all yours.

Brown Target: winner of the Retail Olympics’ Lint Medal. And that ain’t going away with a paint job.

Honest Opinions Elsewhere

The place I take my car for repair has a strange ranking system. They explain it when I’m picking up my car.

“Hey, my pay is dependent upon your reviews. I only get a bonus if you give me all tens and yeses.”

Um, okay. I mean, thanks for telling me that. Because otherwise I might’ve thought of the ranking system as, I don’t know, a way to provide your employer with feedback, instead of just a rubber stamp to give you some extra scratch.

It happened again when I stayed at an airbnb. “The company sees anything other than a 5 out of 5 as a failure and will hurt my search results.”

Do these people and companies not realize the purpose of a ranking system? Do they want my honest feedback on things relating to the service that can be improved, or do they want a guilt-ridden blow job?

Ah shit, man, you quoted me an hour but it ended up taking three. But if I list that as a seven out of ten, then your kid might go hungry. If you have a kid. I don’t know. You didn’t really make a personal connection. Wait, shouldn’t I be the one getting the blow job?

And I don’t necessarily want to fault the employees pleading for my rating. They’ve been put in an awkward position by their employer and/or service provider.They kinda have to give me a heads up that these rating systems don’t work like normal rating systems. I’m a teacher, after all, and in my mind, a 9 out of 10 is an A-. It’s a pretty solid result. Far above average. Almost perfect but not quite. Maybe throw in a blow job next time.

But if the entity that receives the rating is going to consider a 9 the same way they would a 1, then it’s fair to give us graders a warning about that. Because now if I think they gave me a 9, I might as well just give them a 1. Right? Is that the way this is supposed to work?

Although by guilting us into tens, we cease to become graders, right?

And herein lies my problem with this system. If anything other than a 10 is a failure, then why am I even providing a ranking? Don’t make me rank things on a scale of 1-10 if there are only two options.Ask me yes or no questions. Give me a pass/fail option. “Did your support provider offer oral copulation? Yes/No.”

Because what’s the point of a ranking system? One would think it’s a chance for a company to know what things it does well and what things could be improved upon. At the car dealership, I do legitimately get annoyed at the wait times they quote. They always quote on the low side. It’s gotten to the point where I just add 30% to whatever they say. Quote me an hour, I’ll be here eighty minutes. Tell me it’s going to be a couple hours, I might as well go to lunch. Three to four hours? It’ll be ready at the end of the day.

Is this misquoting a deal breaker? Obviously not. I’ve gone there often enough to be able to convert it quickly in my head. So I’ve at least used them more often than I’ve used the metric system. But do they deserve a ten if I brought an hour’s worth of work to do and I’ve now been twiddling my thumbs watching the episode of Maury that’s turned up way too loud in the customer waiting area? No, they don’t. Personally, I’d probably give them a 7 or an 8, but dude’s just told me that anything less than a 10 is seen the same as a 1. So my options are to be a complete dick and take food out of his mouth or else not give them some legitimate feedback that would help improve their experience.

It’s no wonder they keep quoting the wrong times. Nobody’s ever bothered to tell them it’s annoying. Nobody’s ever given them a B with constructive feedback.

After all, isn’t that what reviews are supposed to be for? I used to wait tables and I considered the tip as a dialogue between me and my customers as to how my service was. Unless the customers were Russian or ordered thousand island dressing. Because those people always tip poorly. But everyone else? I sure as shit never had to tell them that if they weren’t able to tip me 20% they might as well tip me zero.

I ran into the same problem with the airbnb. Was the place fine? Yeah, it was fine. Would I stay there again? Probably, depending on what else was available. Was it the Shangri-fucking-la? No, it wasn’t.

The two upstairs bedrooms at this house didn’t have their own bathrooms. Meaning I had to trudge my ass down some rickety stairs, probably waking the entire house, in the middle of the night to take a leak. Sure, I could’ve drank less before going to bed, but what’s the point of vacationing if you’re not going to drink?

Also, while we didn’t use the “fourth bedroom,” the person sleeping there would have to go through the room I was in to get to the stairs to get to the bathroom. We ended up taking the air mattress out of that room and let the kids sleep in the living room downstairs. Because the kids were there with their parents. And the bed in the room next door to the air mattress room upstairs only had a double bed. Not the best arrangement.  Not a 5 out of 5.

I know there’s nothing they can feasibly do about access to bathrooms upstairs. I certainly don’t blame the owners for this fact. But at the same time, it’s a fair thing to mention in a review, right? It’s probably something worth noting in a review so that other people booking it know that whoever’s staying in the two upstairs bedrooms better be okay holding their bladder long enough to trudge down some stairs in the dark.

But the owners seemed very nice. They were super polite in every interaction I had with them. They even told me they gave ME a good review as a tenant. I didn’t even know that was a thing. Not sure what I could’ve done to be a bad tenant. Clearly they aren’t one of those apocryphal airbnb owners who set up video cameras or they would’ve known we moved their air mattress. And they would’ve known what I did to their bathroom after a night of drinking. Or maybe they’re selling that footage to some fetish site, and they’re telling the other airbnb owners that I’m a cash cow.

Cash cow is also the name for what I left in their toilet. Look for me this week on

So, again, I’m left with a quandry. I don’t think the place is a 5 out of 5. But the owners seemed nice. So now I have to decide if I want to give a heads up to future travelers via a legitimate review or give a fluff job to the owners.

Instead, I do the same thing I do at the car dealership. I don’t give a review at all.

The Libra in me can’t handle the two sides. I’m sure my students wish I would do the same. Give them an A or don’t give them a grade at all. Turn all of education into a pass/fail system. Although it’s not even pass/fail, it’s brilliance/fail. And really, they told you the consequences, so it’s a “they’re brilliant/I’m a dick” scale.

Apps work the same way, especially games. I notice they want you to rank them early, like when you’re still going through the tutorial. When the game still seems fresh and interesting. They don’t want your review after the game’s grown stale. They also say, “If you’re enjoying this, give us a five-star review.” But in my world, if I merely “like” something, it’s a 4-star, not a 5-star review. Maybe even three. Five stars denotes over the top. Exceptional. The difference between an A and a B.

Goodreads has a good system. If you hover over the stars, they list a 3-star review as “liked it,” a 4-star as “really liked it,” and a 5-star as “it was amazing.” They even have 2-star as “it was okay.” That seems a bit nice. I think of two stars as “Meh.” Or maybe three stars is “Meh” and two stars is “I tolerated it.”

I give two stars to a book that I finished, but didn’t really like. One star, what Goodreads classifies as “didn’t like it,” is usually reserved for books I didn’t finish. Although there was one book that was hovering around two stars, but when I finished it, the ending was so bad that I dropped it to a one star. That was probably a book that I should’ve given up on.

So not every book on Goodreads is either a 5 or a 1. But people still seem to treat it that way. I’m amazed at how many five-star reviews  write about all the problems that they had with the book. Others give a three-star review, then gush about how wonderful the book is. I can only assume those people’s ranking systems have been ruined by the likes of car dealerships and airbnb. None of us feel safe giving our honest opinion. Someone, somewhere is liable to get killed if we do.

Either that or the author was giving them a blowjob.

So here’s a ransom note. The Wombat and his entire family have been kidnapped. A gun is pointed at their heads. Anything other than a five-star review of this blog post will result in some pistol-whipping and hari kiri immolation. Oh, did I not mention there was a sword there, too? No? Well tough shit, you can’t mention in the review that the plot kept changing.

What’s that? There aren’t stars to review on this site? Only a like or dislike button? Wait, there’s no dislike button? So you can either like it or don’t do anything? Wow, this is just like every other review system. Either tell me you like me or don’t say shit at all.

Your wait time should be about ten minutes.

No honest opinions, please.