O's that I Met at RadioShack

In the mid-2000s, just after I graduated from college with a film degree, I was (predictably) out of work and living at home with my parents, trying to figure out what I would do next. I say that I graduated, but I actually had to take a summer class to fulfill my last GenEd requirement. For some reason I thought it would be fun to take Business Statistics as an accelerated summer course, but I didn't take it seriously and (again, predictably) ended up flunking. Thankfully, there were a few other choices to fulfill this requirement, so I ended up taking a Geography class that fall. I enjoyed it so much that I ended up going back to school several years later and studying it further. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

While taking the course that fall, I was looking for jobs as well - I was only taking one course and was basically bumming around the house and annoying my parents. Eventually my good buddy UH-60 hooked me up with a job at RadioShack as a seasonal hire, but I did okay and ended up staying on after the Christmas season ended. I had graduated by this time, but was still pretty lazy/terrified about venturing out into the Real World of a career, so I figured I would stay at RadioShack for a while and see what happened.

I worked at two stores - the first was in Towson Town Center, which was located right by the Rainforest Cafe, and the second was in Arundel Mills Mall. Both malls are pretty big and we saw a lot of interesting foot traffic, especially from foreigners - many of whom would buy RF Transmitters for their iPods, which were either highly regulated or illegal in their home countries. It's kind of crazy home many of those I sold. I remember a time where an entire youth sports team from a Scandinavian country came in and bought just about every one we had in stock.

I also saw several Orioles and O's-related figures.

The first Oriole I sold something to was Rodrigo Lopez. This had to be around the 2005 season, because I remember that I thought he was a big deal after a pretty nice 2004 campaign. This was at Towson Towson Center on an off-day and he had his young son with him, who looked to be around three or four and he was soooo adorable. He was just bouncing around the store in the way that only a young kid can, looking at everything and talking to his dad in Spanish. I think Rodrigo ended up buying a pair of (kinda cheap) Sony earbuds from me for $20. I was pretty nervous ringing him up, but by the end of the transaction I worked up enough courage to slide my business card across the counter to him and ask him to sign it. He paused for a moment and kind of gave me a shy smile and signed the back of it and then he left. I kept that card in my wallet for a while.

The next Oriole I met was Danys Baez. This was at Arundel Mills Mall and happened in early 2007, a few months after he signed with the O's but before the season began. I'm a little hazy on the time frame so I'm not sure if it was before Spring Training or just before the season began. Anyway, he was in the store by himself and I ended up talking to him about a Sprint 3G Hotspot. I was excited to sell it to him, not only because I recognized him as an Oriole, but also because we made most of our money on commissions from selling cell phones and things like cellular hotspots, so I was going to make a few bucks at the same time.

It's funny what you remember about certain events. I remember that Baez was wearing a skin-tight pair of jeans that looked like they were painted on. He actually looked pretty stylish, but I remember he had a bubble butt that I guess he was pretty proud of.

Anyway, the other thing that makes this encounter memorable is that Sprint, at first, denied Baez's credit! For those who've never bought or sold a cell phone before, there is a credit approval process that initiates the transaction and if you have poor credit, you have to pay a deposit before you can activate a line of service. The deposit amount depends on the carrier - Verizon was notorious for having ridiculously high deposits, sometimes upwards of $1000, and Sprint almost always had the lowest deposits. It wasn't uncommon to run a credit check for someone through both Sprint and Verizon and come back with a $400 deposit for Verizon and a $0 deposit for Sprint. But in Baez's case, Sprint outright refused to activate a line of service for him.

Eventually I got it sorted out after calling a Sprint representative, although in the end he did have to pay a deposit to get his cellular hotspot. I remember being incredibly embarrassed throughout the entire process - I couldn't believe that a guy who had just signed a multi-year multi-million-dollar contract would be denied by Sprint of all companies. I also felt really sheepish telling Baez that he had to pay a deposit, but after a brief moment of confusion he paid it and I activated his hotspot and he was on his way. He was very patient throughout the entire transaction - this probably took 45 minutes to an hour to get sorted out. I came away thinking that he was a pretty nice guy.

The next Orioles-related person that I met was Buck Martinez. He wandered in one slow weekday and was looking our wall of cell phones, which, as I mentioned earlier, was always a welcome sign because selling mobile phones was the most lucrative part of the job. I didn't recognize him at first, but slowly it dawned on me that he was the color man for the O's telecasts. He was much shorter than I expected him to be. I worked up the courage to approach him and ask him if he needed any help. He was looking for a Blackberry on Sprint and I was again surprised that someone who I assumed made a decent paycheck would use Sprint. This was around the time that the Blackberry Pearl was very popular, but we didn't actually sell any Blackberries because activating one involved setting up some Blackberry-specific services that our internal activation system didn't support. I ended up directing him to the Sprint store down near the food court and he was on his way.

The final Orioles-related person that I met was an O's scout. I don't remember his name, but I remember that I was ringing him up and he handed me a Yankees-themed credit card with which to pay. I made some innocuous comment about the Yankees, ribbing him a bit, and he said that he was actually an advance scout working for the O's. He looked a little sheepish about the Yankees logo on his credit card. Or maybe I just imagined that part.

So, there you have it. Some encounters with O's and O's-related folks at RadioShack from eight to ten years ago.

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