Anyone who has ever taken a screenwriting class knows that a common exercise to help one learn how to create believable, realistic sounding dialogue is to eavesdrop on strangers’ conversations and write down what they say. Whenever I was assigned this little annoying bit of homework, I usually just made the conversation up instead of actually doing the work. Writing dialogue has always been my strength as a screenwriter (creating a cohesive story line and finding a way to exclude diarrhea jokes, not so much), so instead of taking the time to actually complete the assignment like a responsible student, I would just fire off some ridiculous back and forth an hour before class. Besides, it was more fun to make up an outrageous conversation and turn it in (or even better, read it to the class). Looking out across a row of horrified faces as I read a conversation between two made up people trying to figure out which campus toilet seat “Anxious Guy” got herpes from was priceless.
“I felt something wet on that toilet seat in Cornell Hall, but I just thought it was water. Why didn’t I wipe it up? GOD I’M AN IDIOT!”
This is how I earned my college degree.
While picking up a six pack at the Wag-a-Bag on 24th Street just west of the University of Texas, I witnessed a real life interaction that lived up to the fictional ones I so often handed in. In the spirit of that exercise, I decided to write it down and share it.
SCENE: A young, male, possibly underage UT student stands at the check out counter with a case of Coors Light in front of him and a passport in hand. A middle aged, male clerk stands behind the counter.
Clerk: I’m sorry I need a driver’s license.
Student: This is legal ID.
Clerk: I know but we have to have a driver’s license. I have to be able to swipe it.
Student: This isn’t a fake ID.
Clerk: I didn’t say it was but we can’t take it.
Student: You can’t take this?
Clerk: Nope, I’m sorry.
Student: It’s a passport. It’s not a fake ID.
Clerk: Okay, but like I said we can’t accept it.
Student: (irate) It’s not like it’s a fake ID. It’s legit. How can you not take this? I wouldn’t make a fake passport to buy beer. I’d make a fake passport to be a fucking terrorist.
Clerk: It’s store policy.
Student: (growing angrier) It’s store policy to not accept passports?
Clerk: Yes, sir.
Student: You gotta be FUCKING KIDDING ME!
Clerk: (calmly) I’mmmm sorry.
Student: CAN’T TAKE A FUCKIN’ PASSPORT BECAUSE IT’S FUCKIN’ STORE POLICY! Un-fucking-believable! Oh yeah, I’m really gonna make a fake passport and piss off Homeland Security just to buy some fucking beer.
Student: CAN’T TAKE A FUCKING PASSPORT! UNBELIEVABLE! UN-FUCKING-BELIEVABLE! YOU GOTTA BE FUCKING KIDDING ME!
(*Student walks outside*)
Student: (from outside) YOU’RE FUCKING KIDDING! CAN’T TAKE A PASSPORT! FUCKING SHIT!
Clerk: (to me) Well jeez.
Student: (from outside) UN-FUCKING-BELIEVABLE! BULLSHIT! FUCK!
(*Student gets in a car, a Friend is in the driver’s seat*)
Student: ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING!?!?
No, sir, the clerk was in fact not kidding.
Was the student underage and using a fake ID? I had no way of knowing. He was pretty insistent that the passport wasn’t fake, which I guess is a red flag. Though like he said, it would be a waste of time, a huge risk, and quite terrorist-like to fake a passport. Though it is suspicious that the only people who ever have to say they aren’t terrorists are terrorists. I should probably call this guy in before Rolling Stone has a new cover boy. Regardless, even if the passport wasn’t fake, it still might not have been his. He could have borrowed a 21-year-old buddy’s passport to use as an ID. I also don’t blame the Wag-a-Bag for not taking his passport. That place probably gets underage kids with all manners of bullshit IDs coming in constantly.
If the ID was fake, which I think is a decent possibility, outrage is definitely not the play that guy should have made. I mean he went straight to fury. There was hardly even any bargaining, and no attempt at being relatable. “You wont accept my identification SUCK MY COCK I’LL MURDER YOUR FAMILY!” You’re definitely not getting that beer now, bud. It’s one thing to act annoyed when you’re being ID’d when underage. The whole “Seriously man, I’m in a hurry” routine is quality. Annoyance, however, is much different than unbridled rage.