Worst Nerd Shopping Experience: And the Winners Are…

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I’m going to keep this brief, because about 60% just completely ignored my pleas to keep your entries short. Both the quantity of the long entries and the quality of these long entries were impressive, so I had no choice but to just post them all and hope a few of you can be bothered to read 5,000 words of horrible nerdy shopping experiences. I guess we’ll find out in about five minutes, huh?

HMs (yes, there’s so much text here I just had to abbreviate Honorable Mentions as

I just finished the fifth grade and my father wanted to reward me for getting straight As so he took me to the Hobby Center. I loved my uncle’s 1/35 scale Tamiya model kits (mainly the little German soldiers) so I immediately went over to the WWII section…Little did I know the amount of paint shades, brush variation, turpentine, cement, primer…etc required. What started as a 20 dollar present was mushrooming out of control. My father was not on board but we ended up picking out a Wirbelwind mobile AA gun on a Panzer chassis with a crew of 4 on sale…with gloss green, gloss black and brown (perfect German army colors, right?) We worked on it all day. I remember the wheels being such a bitch. However…we did not paint it before we started building it and didn’t realize it untill long after the point of no return..(the tank treads were already installed!) So we start haphazardly painting this bitch in the worst colors imaginable and end up giving the Panzer crew shiney army-man green uniforms. We look at the result of this poor model kit as I meekly say “This isn’t how it’s supposed to look.” My dad says, “Well, NO SHIT!” and grabs the paints and turpentine and starts for the celler steps. As he starts going down, I hear “Boom, Bang, Boom Boom!” (as he is falling down the stairs) and “FUCK!!!!” he then comes up with turpentine, gloss green and brown all over his glasses and face and screams at me, “NO MORE GOD-DAMNED FUCKING MODELS IN THIS HOUSE!!!!”

At our local comic store, my buddy Ray and I were doing some browsing for games and wound up staring at some Monsterpocalypse stuff. In a matter of moments we’re accosted by this mouth-breather that shambles up along side of me with his head turned at a mentally defective angle asking “You guys play MonPoc?” Ray attempts to respond to the creature, I back away and slip to another section of a store. I couldn’t take it. This guy was the kind of troglodyte that gives every geek a bad rap – the socially maladjusted gamer nerd that cares not for hygiene or acceptable interpersonal communication techniques.
So as I’m looking at trade paperbacks a few minutes later, this guy shambles (and I’m not kidding, this is the most accurate descriptor of how he moved) toward me again, mouth-breathing and all, and says in a zombie-like fashion, “must…find…MonPoc players…”
I immediately looked up, said “nope, I’m out,” and walked straight out of the store. Ray still accuses me of abandoning him there with the guy, I found that Z-Day rules applied there – survival at all costs.

So, I shop on this website run by this guy named rob. I’ve placed like, a f**king hundred orders for a simple tshirt. Poor customer service, lots of extra crap, and I still HAVENT GOTTEN A TSHIRT! And now they replaced it with some lame T I would never wear. And the worst part? They insist on sometimes mentioning how CLOSE I came to getting my shirt shipped.

I was 11 years old and a huge power rangers fan. Got the Megazord for Christmas, which was totally awesome!
Anyway I really wanted the Dragon Dagger. The problem is that the Saba Sword was out, which was cool, but for me Green Ranger > White Ranger. So I would call Toys’R’Us and see if they had the toy. I saved up all my chore money and was ready to purchase.
Most of the time it was a no, but one time I got a yes. I convinced my mom after much pleading, to drive way out to T’R’Us so I could buy it. The store was about 45 minutes away, so this was a big deal.
We get there, I rush into the store, and all I see if Saba Swords, everywhere. No Dragon Dagger. WTF. I look around in different isles. My mother ignorantly suggests that I buy the Saba Sword. HOW DARE SHE! That’s not the same! We find an employee, they say, “no, we don’t have that.” we reply with a “we called” and got a “sorry”.
A month later (which might as well be centuries in kid time) I try again, after seeing the Dragon Dagger in the Sunday circular. There it was, in all it’s glory, in a full color advertisement. This time Mom calls the store to double check, obviously not believing that I had already done so. We get the affirmative and head out.
I can barely sit still in the front bucket seat of the minivan. It’s burgundy seat chaffing my arms while the seat belt viciously cuts into my neck. I don’t care, however, because I’m about to be the custodian of a weapon of terrible power. A dagger that is also a kind of flute, an ocarina that summons a giant robot from the depths of the ocean. The combined forces of TMNT mutant baddies, Cobra, & generic bad guy figures from the dollar store; will have NO CHANCE to survive the onslaught of destruction that the Dragon Dagger will rain down upon them. I’m on an emotional expectant high that no sugar rush could hope to attain.
We pull up into the parking lot. I pull a Buster Bunny and motor into that toy shop.
There are no Dragon Daggers. AGAIN. Only that new sensation the Saba Sword.
I am crushed. This time, however, my mother is pissed. She asks for the manager. She gives him a piece of her mind. I’m to upset to accept a new action figure as a consolation prize, but pull it together enough on the ride home to agree to a chocolate milkshake.
From then on I’ve always mistrusted retail employees. It’s a feeling that will never be shaken because I did everything I could have done to wrap my small pre-teen fingers around that green plastic hilt, and because of lazyness or ignorance my ennui delved deep into my soul. Deep enough for me to remember this as the Worst Nerd Shopping Experience of my life.

Game Stop
Well played, sir.

here’s another one: I’d like to preface this by saying that my favorite part of my job was talking to and interacting with other women who came into the shop- most of them were actual fans, not buying things for their boyfriends or guy-friends, and it had always been my pet peeve when I was treated as if I wasn’t shopping for myself. I loved discussing what they liked to read- we all generally had the same taste and I loved recommending my favorite finds to them- and them to me! And also discussing fashion, our difficulties being in a male-dominated hobby, which dice sets were the prettiest, etc. It was just lovely, and that’s what I miss most about that job. However, I had one absolutely worst experience with a female customer. She was looking for the perfect miniature to paint for a campaign, and she had brought her boyfriend- a fellow player- along. Now, I’m excited because I love going through minis to find the perfect one, and I start going through the racks, making small talk as I go. Between the information I need (race, class, weapon-type, shield?, detailing, armor) she starts feeding me information that I really DON’T need, “Wow, a girl working at a comic book store! That’s so cool, way to represent. Doesn’t being a girl make role-playing games so much more interesting? For example, I’m really fascinated by sexual role-play. Do you have an erotic supplement for D&D? No? Too bad. Yeah, my DM is difficult to work with, but being a female player, I realized I just had to have sex with him to get my way hahahaha” (I can tell from her boyfriend’s face that he most certainly is NOT the DM and he is incredibly uncomfortable) “Have you ever had to do anything like that? Really, you haven’t! Well, you definitely should.” Did I mention that there were other customers in the store? Parents, kids, teenagers? Way to represent, indeed.

I ordered a phazon suit samus statue from First 4 Figures. This was badass statue- it lit up, was high quality, was huge, and looked awesome. It was also extremely limited run- 1500 pieces worldwide. When I ordered it online I spent $200 on the thing, money from my first real summer job. Then they pushed back the release date. And kept pushing it back. And back some more.
So it came out a six months behind schedule. At which point I no longer lived in the same place. They delivered it to my old apartment- a crappy place which has since become, of all things, a Frat House. I went in to see if I could find it but no luck. The ass of a house manager told me he didn’t care and that someone had probably stolen it (there was no secure mail system, just a fucking table that they put mail on and just picked it up so that ANYONE had access to mail.)
I searched around for weeks. I called people. I stalked the guy on facebook who signed for the package. I blamed the post office. I blamed the frat house. I blamed the website that sent the figure. I blamed the website that MADE the figure. I tried to cancel my my order but everyone kept blaming everyone else for failing so I was out $200. I realize now that I probably could have pushed the issue and gotten my money back but I was too bummed out to do anything.
So I never got my statue. I still occasionally have a feverish night of drunken research now and again even though it’s been four years and the house has changed hands at least twice since then. I still have all the tracking information and the payment notifications. Even if I wanted to get another statue I couldn’t. They don’t make them anymore and the ones that do go on sale sell for prices I could never afford. This event basically killed my interest in collecting toys- I don’t think I’ve bought a toy over $15 since then. This one statue was to be the centerpiece of my collection. I still get weekly emails from the store that I bought the thing from. They;re little more than a grim reminder.
The worst part of it all is the thought that somewhere my beautiful Samus is lying in a dumpster somewhere, alone and uncared for. Or that she’s some frat guy’s dust-covered novelty lighting.
I know this has gone far over 200 words but I could never describe this in so short of a time. I think I’m going to go drink myself into a stupor.

So some of the guys at the game shop were getting into MAlifaux when it was just coming out. They were trying to hold a demo / learn to play night I wanted to go to. I also wanted to have some dudes by then so I could play as well. I special ordered the models I wanted from the store even though they had already placed a large general order. I really wanted on certain faction. Well, a few days before the event they call me and say my stuff is in. I head down there the day of the event a little early to buy my stuff and at least glue it together. The clerk informs me that no, my stuff wasn’t there and no they didn’t have what I wanted in stock (someone else had bought it). I ended up getting a different army than I wanted, but whatever. I found out a few weeks later that the OWNER OF THE STORE had kept my special order FOR HIMSELF because he didn’t order enough the first time.

Back in my formative nerd years (basically, from 12 to 17), I was kind of Trek-obsessed. I was also heavily in to martial arts and weapons (I WAS a teenage boy, so it’s not as creepy as it sounds, unless it is; I was also actually training in martial arts, so hopefully that makes it less creepy), so of course my young life’s goal at the time was to combine the two: I desperately, desperately wanted a Klingon blade set. A local House Of Knives store actually had the trio I wanted (bat’leth, mek’leth, and d’ktahg), in separate, non-matching pieces, but what did I care: I could own those blades.
Now the strange thing was, the store was run by this old woman who was known far and wide as someone who would sell sharp objects to the young and the stupid (the more closely aligned the two were, the faster the sale, hence my collection of throwing knives). So, at 16, with money saved up from my evenings and weekends in retail, I walked in to that store with every intention of walking out with my prizes.
Except… everyone wants a samurai sword. And any normal person might understand the appeal of the samurai sword, or the claymore, or the Bowie knife. But these were not “normal” weapons I wanted. They were weird and strange and came from that TV show that the perverts watched in their mothers’ basements. They looked impressive in the display, but no sane person would actually want to buy them. I’ve paraphrased, but that is essentially what the woman told me, right before she asked to see my I.D. I had bought knives from this woman before. I was a frequent enough visitor that I’d get a nod when I came in (before this, anyway), even if I stared frequently, handled occasionally, and bought rarely. But wanting those Klingon blades… that made me a nerd. A weirdo. A freak.
When I pointed out that I had bought from her before with no problems, mall security was called (because speaking clearly and calmly is obviously threatening), and I got to have a pleasant chat with my parents about my strange and weird obsession with deadly weapons. Suddenly, I was no longer a nerd with a desire to collect and display, but a potential serial killer with an alien fetish. I was banned from the mall for a month. I was banned from the House of Knives permanently.
Re-read that first paragraph. I STILL, to this day, feel the need to reason, backpedal and play down my desire for those blades. I shouldn’t. I fly all of my other nerd flags high and proud. But not this one, because this is the one that showed me just what some people see in genre fans. I still can’t bring myself to consider buying the blades. That old woman and her stupid prejudices have completely ruined that little section of nerddom for me.

Okay, the scene is an ASDA, at a Help Desk at the front of the store. It helps if you read the guy’s voice as the Simpsons’ Squeaky Voiced Teen and mine as Fluttershy’s, ie in an uber-nervous whisper.
Me: Um… I was looking for something, I mean I’m buying a present for someone, but I can’t find it and…
Guy: Okay, what?
Me: Um, well, um… *whisper* My Little Pony blind bag toys.
Guy: What was that? I couldn’t hear you.
Me: They’re like, little toys… Small. Like this. *makes universal gesture for ‘little’*
Guy: *in a loud voice* Are you talking about sex toys?!
Me: NO! …Sorry. I meant, they’re My Little Pony toys. But they come is this little bag and I looked online and they said they had them in ASDA and… *trails off*
(By now he’s staring at me like I’ve grown another head and I’m the colour of a tomato.)
Guy: I don’t think we have them, no.
Me: I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m a really bad customer, um bye… *flees*
(In the end I ordered them off Amazon, much easier and less humiliating…)

My worst nerd shopping experience was actually something I simply witnessed, but it was truly glorious and bizarre. So one day I was hanging out in the local comic/anime/toy shop, talking with the owner, when this kid comes in. He looked like Napoleon Dynamite in a Metallica t-shirt. So he goes up to the owner and begins one of the strangest exchanges I have ever heard.
“Excuse me sir,” he says in the voice of someone with a stuffy nose, “Do you have, um, Genus Magazine?”
“No, what is that?”
“It is a hentai publication.”
The owner is taken slightly aback, but responds. “I don’t have that one, but I do have some hentai in the back. Want to look?”
“Yes, I would like that very much.”
So they go in the back, and there’s an awkward silence for a little while, after which I hear the kid say, “I don’t know why she would do that. You know, unless it was for power.”
Anyway, the kid comes out and agrees to buy the magazine, but as the owner goes to ring him up, the just leaves the store without a word. Confused, we all go back about our business, but about ten minutes later, the kid comes back and gives the owner money for the magazine. He then offers the kid a paper bag in which to carry it. The kid responds with, “No thanks, I’ve got my own.”
The owner chuckles at this. “I guess you don’t want your parents to see, huh?”
The kid shakes his head. “No, that’s not it. My dad got me a Playboy for my 18th birthday, but that didn’t do it for me, and I’m hoping this will. Well, see ya.”
We all stood in horror as the kid walked out of our lives, and left us all with that disgusting image.

In the days before debit cards–in fact, before I even had a bank account when I was about 15–my brother and I decided to chip in together and buy a TurboDuo game console, about $200 if I remember right. I had loaded up every piece of spare change I had in a sack, but despite having meticulously counted everything out before hand, at the counter, we were coming up about $4.00 short. Counting and recounting a huge pile of nickles and dimes only to have it not be enough didn’t seem humiliating at the time, but looking back on it, I wince every time.

I spent a holiday season three yers back working at a large well-known toy store. There was a twilight display which included two highend Edward and Bella dolls on display; and when I say highend I mean almost two bundred dollars each. Despite the high price tags the stands the dolls were on had a tendency of falling apart due to people picking them up and playing with them. One day while fixing “Edwards” stand I handed the doll to a teenage girl because I didn’t have anywhere else to put him. Immediately the girl licked “Edward’s” entire face. Several customers who witnessed this incident appeared visibly ill, and to this day I can’t look at anything twilight related without feeling slightly queasy.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a job interview an hour from my house. I thought, “What better excuse to check stores for Transformers.” So after the interview, I stopped at every Wal-Mart, Target, and Toys R Us on the way home.
Hasbro is being kind of dickish now, with shortpacked figures and impossible-to-find exclusives. They are also massively oversupplying Bumblebee and Optimus Prime (except for the new Masterpiece Prime which is, you got it, an exclusive). All the shortpacks and exclusives are swept up by scalpers, who throw them on eBay. It’s impossible to get them anywhere online without paying a fortune.
I stopped at 10 stores on the way home. I can go shopping all day, but going into these same stores over and over is hellish. By the time I pulled into store 5 I was already tired. Store 7, bleary-eyed. Store 10, just short of murder. Murder Prime shops at Wal-Mart. I know this now.
There were approximately 10 different things I was looking for. I found ZERO. I found plenty of Bumblebee and other pegwarmers, but nothing that hadn’t been clogging stores for months.
I’m shifting my focus to Lego now.

whilst waiting in line at the only real big comic store near me there was a mother buying some comics for her kid and she didn’t seem to know anything about them and so just trusted the guy behind the counters advice all whilst i watched as he got her to buy the same four issues 3 times just with different covers and than charged for the poly bag and she even thanked him and he pretended like he cared with a big shit eating grin on his face
it just seemed so mean
i was so bummed out by that i couldn’t even read what i got for about a week afterwards

Not even a year ago, I went to a Lego store opening in Milwaukee. Per the Lego site, it was a 3 day opening, and on each day, you could get an exclusive item with purchase (while supplies last). On Saturday, the giveaway was a small, but cute set of a Lego store. As I had recently proposed to my then-fiancee in a Lego store, my plan was to get the set and display it with a lego bride and groom at our wedding. i was pretty excited. I drove up from Chicago in the morning and picked up my 3 nephews as they are also lego fans. I got to the mall about 30 minutes before the store opened assuming, “Hey, these are Lego sets. You can pretty much buy them at any retail store. The line shouldn’t be too long.” Well, when I walked in, I was horrified to see a line that snaked though the ENTIRE upper level of the mall. The wait was over 4 hours long and people had been camped out since 5 am (they came in with the mall-walkers!). Sales associates were walking up and down the line and I kept asking them, “Will there be enough of the giveaway set?” They would each reply, “No, sorry. They will probably run out about 100 people ahead of you.” I proceeded to watch as grandparents who brought their grandkids (just for a fun day) would walk out all surprised by the free set. I crossed state lines to get it! What then proceeded to happen was almost embarassing. I walked around the mall for the next 3 hours asking EVERY person with a Lego bag if they would be willing to sell it to me. I told them my sob story and each of them said no. None of them wanted it for themself. The grandparents were all very proud that their grandson was being very kind and offered it to his brother who couldn’t make it today. Anyone who was willing to sell it immediately price-gouged it. “I’ll sell it for $400. that’s what they’re going for on ebay right now.” For fucking Legos. The whole point of Legos is that they’re built with a universal building piece. They don’t appreciate in price. They are just meant for fun. I was furious about everything! How could there possibly be a line this long? Who are all of these spoiled little kids whose relatives are bringing to the mall like this? Who do those bastard price gougers think they are? The worst thing about everything was that this was basically my fault. I totally could have gone earlier. I had nothing pressing that morning. I just ASSUMED that a Lego opening wouldn’t be that crazy. More crowded than usual, sure, but nothing like this. Because of my own arrogance, my nephews had to watch me fuming all day while I creepily stalked complete strangers and asked to buy their lovely gift.
And the (also incredibly verbose) winners!


March 2007 i was on my way to see 300 and hit up the local game and book stores, on my way out the door my visiting cousin asks me if i can watch her two kids and before i can answer her she takes off leaving me with her two very bratty, disrespectful kids who cant listen to save there lives, to make matters worse i’m informed that the younger of the two cannot handle violent movies thus throwing my choice in movie out the window. these two then proceed to make me miss my train making me wait a extra half hour for the next one. we then get to the mall late, to late for any of the then starting movies, not a big deal so i do my shopping before the movie instead of after, however they had not told me that there mother had given them money to give to me to pay for there movie and had proceeded to buy 30$ worth of candy apiece leaving me to deal with having to pay for there movie and leaving me to deal with two sugar-buzzed brats for the next two and a half hours.
so i proceed to go to the closest Chapters which i was then thrown out of and had a 6 month ban put on me because of said brats behavior, next was EB Games which i thought at that moment was my change in luck, the debt machine wasn’t working and it being Tuesday meant new Nintendo shipments and i was able to get a Wii because i had cash, my lucky day i thought but low and behold someone who didn’t think that was fair decides to get physical tries to grab my bag and after a brief tug a war I get a decent grip, get back my Wii, toss it to the cashier, and drop my would be thief with a nice solid headbutt all while said brat kids are cheering on the altercation.
next comes movie time, wii in bag and brats in tow i return to the theater and it is decided on that instead of 300 we would see TMNT movie, the one with Patrick Stewart voices the villian, not a big deal i liked the Turtles as a child and i thought hey good enough for the brats, i might enjoy this one and they will finally give me a little piece and quiet. Nope booted out of there too, no refunds either, so on my way out, pissed right off trying my best not to chew out the two instead saving my few choice words for there mother, i’m halfway across the parking lot when the fellow i ad previously headbutted with a few of his friends who decided that they wanted to finish what he had started the hour before, another brief altercation leaving me with a bloody nose and three other guys groaning on the ground,
i almost make it to my train station, i walk buy a Boston Pizza when i her a laugh i think i recognize and i check the vehicles parked there to confirm my suspicions which were proven true when i entered and found my cousins my aunt and uncle, drunk and having a good time, i then proceed to chew out every one of my relatives about the behavior of the brats, behavior of my cousin, and making sure put as much public embarrassment as i could on the whole group while leaving the brats with them upon leaving.
i make it home, sit down hook up my new Wii only to find that through my altercations of that day my Wii Sports disk got cracked and the Wii mote busted, then the next week i find out that i have a corn allergy and that i should avoid movie theaters whenever it is possible.
so my day ended up with a store banning, kicked out of a movie by a usher, two physical altercations, chewed out close relative, which had resulted in being my last words ever spoken to one of them because of a accident later that year which made me feel like shit, and my last big screen movie i was able to see was a ok TMNT animated movie and only 1/4 of it.

Man, I wish I had a funny story or something but mine is just harrowing and embarrassing. Oh well, maybe I’ll get a t-shirt out of this.
It was last year at a Barnes and Nobel. I was at the mall with my sister and my mom, so while they were clothes shopping I decided to check out the books. As I was browsing I saw, in the manga section, the English translation of Sailor Moon had come out. I’d never read the manga, but I remember enjoying the anime when I was little. I thought it might be good for a laugh or two.
I go to the checkout. Now if you’ve ever been into a Barnes and Nobel, you’ll know there’s a little queue before the registers. It wasn’t a particularly busy day, so there was only two people on duty, the manager and some teenaged boy. The manager was helping out a mom dragging this little kid in tow and trying to buy, like, 15 books while the teenager was chatting with some of his friends in front of his register. I waited like an idiot for about a minute before the teenager called me over, still talking to his friends.
I gave him the book and he gave a long, hard look at it, then at me. He said “you buying this for your niece or something?” I told him no. His friends snickered. He gave them this stupid grin, handed it back to me, and said “Sorry, I can’t let you buy this.” Well, I was shocked. I asked him why not. He said “Yeah, it’s against company policy. I can’t let any man buy this. They might be a pedophile, you know?” (Oh, as an aside, I should mention that I’m actually transgender, male to female. At this time I hadn’t come out to anybody and noway near passed, but I knew it. So, yeah, that helped.)
While this was going on, his friends were just cracking up. I think I literally turned beet red. I stammered trying to tell him that I wasn’t a pedophile. He said “I’m sorry, what was that?” A little louder, I said I wasn’t a pedophile. By this time the people in the queue behind me were giving strange looks. I was just mortified. Finally, the manager seemed to notice there was a problem and came over. The teenager’s friends scattered. I breathed a little sigh of relief, thinking it was all over. The manager had apparently overhead the conversation and pulled the teenager over to the side. Of course, he must not have known I was still in hearing range because he said;
“Look, you can’t say somebody can’t buy a book just because it’s weird. And you ESPECIALLY can’t use the company’s name as an excuse. So stop fucking around and let the faggot pay for his book.”
He then went back to his register as the next person in the queue headed over. I have never been so humiliated. Honestly, I should have complained about it to upper management or something but I just wanted to get out of there as fast as I could. The teen let me pay for the book and I basically ran out. As I left, I saw his friends and they laughed as I walked by. I then went into the bathroom at Best Buy and cried for 10 minutes. It was horrible.
Sailor Moon is still awesome though.
Congrats to the winners, and thanks to everyone who entered! And if you’re still reading after all this, you deserve a congratulations as well.