Paint Bomb

Monday, 1 November 1999
Never in my life I'll become a fun shopper. I find the mall mobs repelling. Special shopping nights and weekends are not my piece of cake. I prefer to avoid the masses and prefer to shop in the more quiet hours. Shopping is bad enough as it is, but it really gets terrible when I go for something as intimate as new underwear. It gives me the feeling that I am forced to share a secret with a total stranger such as the lady at the cash desk. My underwear is none of her business.

Apparently more people have difficulty paying as these things are heavily secured with electronic clips. Some of them even have paint bombs. The clips further burden the confrontation at the cash desk. She pinches all my underwear and fumbles for a nipple. How much worse could this be?

She is finished, at last. It's over. I can pay and go. I feel relieved on my way out. At the exit a security gate starts beeping. Did I trigger that? Probably not, as everything has been paid, after the extensive fumbling. Assuming the beep is for somebody else, I walk on.

At home evidence emerges that the lady's actions were less than adequate. One piece of underwear still has a clip, and with a paint bomb too. Sigh. What to do? Back to the shop for a new embarrassing fumbling action? No, not for me. Hacking a small clip can't be that difficult, can it? At the cash register it's removed in just seconds.

How to dismantle a paint bomb? I've no idea. The clip is tougher than expected. It's quite a clever design. The only weak part is the paint bomb, which I really don't want to break apart. My compliments for the construction. Meanwhile the clip is badly damaged by my efforts. Back to shop is not an option any more.

I put the whole problem aside for a while. Such a mental break often works when I'm stuck with some programming work in Smalltalk or JAVA. The solution usually just emerges. It seems like a part of my brain needs to work on a solution in the quiet background.

The mental break does the trick. The solution pops up: Freeze!

It's still a bit scary though. Who knows, the paint may expand when frozen and the whole thing might explode after all. Just to be safe, I wrap the whole thing into a plastic bag. Off it goes, into the freezer. To be continued tomorrow.

Morning comes. The paint bomb is still in one piece and looks fully frozen. I get the biggest hammer available and smash the thing to pieces, still in the plastic bag, just to be safe. Hmm, I sense some sweet satisfaction. The dangerous paint lies harmless in broken pieces. The clip gives in after some heavy violence with a pair of tongs. The disassembly is a success, although the pair of tongs is covered with paint. The paint bomb does not exist any more. What's left is some underwear with light traces of paint.

A tip: Should you plan an illegal underwear hunt, do take a freezer, a hammer and a pair of tongs with you!

Till next week!