Like most chain supermarkets, our local Safeway has a loyalty program, which it enforces by making its discounts available only to its loyalty members. Naturally, I’m too lazy to sign up, and I’m definitely too lazy to carry a loyalty card in my wallet all the time on the off chance that I’ll need to go to Safeway.

So instead at the cash register I use the “I forgot my card” approach, whereby I input the phone number associated with my loyalty account. Since I don’t actually have an account, I simply use the old landline number of our apartment. (We disconnected it several years ago.) Luckily, whoever lived in the apartment before us (this is pre-2000 or so) must have had an account, because the phone number is valid in the system.

The funny part is that the name of the account member is printed out on the receipt, and the cashiers seem to be required to acknowledge the account owner by name at the end of the transaction: “Have a good evening, [glances at receipt] _____________.” So every time I buy something at Safeway, the cashier experiences a moment of visible cognitive dissonance as he or she glances down at the receipt, sees the name “Steig Johnson” — for that’s who it is — looks back up at me, a very clearly Indian dude whose name is very clearly NOT Steig Johnson, swallows, and plows ahead, wishing me, Mr. Johnson, a good night. I smile and give the cashier my most Nordic nod.

Of course, in the modern age, finding the real Steig Johnson is no challenge; after a stint in Berkeley, he’s now an Assistant Professor of Primatology at the University of Calgary. Cheers to you, Steig, for providing me with a decade of discounts.

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9 Responses to Steig

  1. Maya says:

    the hilarity of this entry is that i’ve actually been successfully using *your* cell phone number for the last year at my local safeway. so apparently you do have an account. or someone does.

    “Have a good day…um…Ms. Shankar”.

    • aj says:


    • aj says:

      In reality, this is hilarious. Mostly liked you signed up for it when you were visiting? I will be saying a sorrowful goodbye to Steig.

      • Anonymous says:

        ajju, I am glad you are not using Steig J ‘s account any more.

      • maya says:

        recently, i tried using my own number at safeway to determine if it had in fact been registered. it successfully went through. however, upon departure the clerk exclaimed ‘thanks aigerim!’

        turns out aggy’s been registered under my number all these years and has been using it all the while.

        what is with safeway cards and identity fraud?!!!

  2. Clay Miller says:

    Oh My God! yes. for some reason, my family’s home number gives back a Susan Beck. If you think you get some funny moments from Steig Johnson, you should see the people get so confused that I am not a woman, then going through the thought process of saying Mr. instead of Mrs.

  3. Shashikant Khandelwal says:

    This is so funny! Even more funny is the fact that my case is exactly the same. I use the stanford dorm phone number, and the name that’s printed is some chinese name Ed Zhou. I’m clearly nowhere close to looking like chinese …

  4. Obiekwe says:

    I have been approached (cold call) by MUNICIP.-MALAGA-No/679 (acting for TD Claims) to say they can get alomst 17,000 Euros back for me. They want alomst 600 Euros first. I am sure it is a scam but thought they could be added to your list of scammers! (Unless of course someone thinks they are genuine!!)

  5. Yo, that’s what’s up truthfully.