Probe: October 3, 2001

October 03, 2001

QUESTION: I "won" a travel sewing kit from Publishers Clearing House, although I paid $3.99 for "shipping and handling."

At first I didn't notice when I opened it but in addition to the small set of scissors, it contained a tiny box cutter. The box cutter is small but in the hands of a powerful person it could slash an artery.

Publishers Clearing House must have sent thousands of those "gifts" out. Check this out! — Armed and Dangerous, El Centro

Since that tiny appliance was in a sewing kit, we're going to guess it's a seam ripper, not a box cutter. But we share your concern.

The blade is sharp and sturdy enough to slice an elephant's hide, too small to trigger a metal detector, and you could hide two or three in your mouth.


Lauren Dickson, a Publishers Clearing House spokesman, said his company will examine the tiny blade and consider pulling the sewing kits off its "gift" list. He said he will refund your $4.

He conceded that before Sept. 11, "We were not so sensitive to possible weapons." It's lucky that you were alert.

QUESTION: I went Saturday to Quarters Arcade and Billiards in El Centro to play pool with some friends. To get the balls you have to leave your driver's license as a deposit.

After the game I asked for my license back and they couldn't find it. It seemed to me the guy behind the counter didn't try hard.

I told him I would have to get a duplicate at the Department of Motor Vehicles. He said, "Send us a bill." I went to DMV and applied for a duplicate. It cost $12 and I won't get the duplicate for a month. I'm going to New Orleans and I need my driver's license with my picture as identification so I can get into bars. I am just 21 and they always card me. What can I do? — No I.D., El Centro

The counter man who was at the arcade Saturday was not there when we called. Ben Nisperos, a Quarters technician who was filling in, promised to look again for your license, and this time, he said he would look high and low for it.

In the meantime, go to Quarters and pick up the $12 to reimburse you for the charge for your duplicate driver's license. At least you won't be any poorer for the experience. Nisperos promised you will get "from the cash register" when you come in.

BANDIT IS 86 — I grew up in Brawley, now live in Los Angeles and read PROBE on the Internet. When I was in college I tended bar for three years. I found out the term "86" came from the Korean War. There was a plane called the F-86 Saber. When an enemy plane was shot down, the pilots would say, "Bandit is 86." It looks like "86" carried over to the bar/restaurant business. — Flying Bob, Los Angeles

We think it was the other way around. The term meaning "you are out of here" started in bars and spread to other endeavors.

NO MORE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE — The term "86" started in the food lines during the Great Depression. If there were 85 meals to be handed out and you were 86th in line, you were 86'ed. The term spread to the military and then to restaurants. If a restaurant ran out of chocolate mousse, they'd pass the word, "86 the chocolate mousse." Hence, "86-ed" means "you are out!" — Restaurant Worker, El Centro

We still like the explanation from the drinker at The Drifters in Imperial who said the saying means "hit the road (Highway 86) and get out of town."

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