Saturday, May 1, 2010

T.R. Switch by Jimmy Callaway

If life is short, then the short con is the only one that makes any sense. The long con involves a lotta p’s: planning, preparation, partners. There may be a bigger pay-off, but it’s also a bigger pain-in-the-ass.

The Transmitter-Receiver Switch, also known as the T.R. Switch or the Mississippi Switch, is your basic reliable short con. Here’s what you do:

Take your bum paycheck from your shit job down to the liquor store and cash it. Banks leave a paper and/or computer trail for the family courts; Sam’s Liquor takes only 2% of your meager earnings. Ask for twenties mostly, but make sure you have at least one single.

Go to 7-Eleven. Or AM/PM, or Circle K, or some sorta chain like that. Your mom-and-pop joints are a little quicker on the up-take generally, but these convenience stores are mostly staffed by people who don’t even care enough about themselves to get a better job, much less any shenanigans you may be up to.

Walk into the 7-Eleven (or what-have-you). Smile, but don’t beam. Don’t avoid eye contact, but don’t make it if you don’t have to. Basically, don’t be so inconspicuous that you become conspicuous.

Make your selection. A bottle of Sprite. A coffee. A Snickers bar. Nothing over two bucks. Try and keep the clerk’s back to you. If the candy’s in front of the register, go back to the soda cooler, for example.

Go to the counter. When the clerk rings you up, hand him/her a twenty.

As he/she is counting back your change, interrupt and say, “Hey, where is the nearest McDonald’s?” Or Burger King, or Blockbuster Video, or wherever. Try and make it someplace you actually know, behind where the cashier is facing.

Without realizing it, most people will turn and look in the direction they want you to go: “Oh, there’s one down Main, over near blah blah blah.”

Meanwhile, take the dollar bill in your pocket and switch it with the ten you’ve just been handed. If you’ve just gotten two fives, you can give that a shot, but a ten will work much better. This switch is crucial, obviously, and fluidity is the key here. So more relevant p’s: practice, practice, practice. Stand in front of the dirty bathroom mirror in your rathole apartment and practice until you’ve fooled your own eye.

Interrupt the clerk and say, “Hey, you gave me the wrong change.”

The clerk will look confused, apologize, and replace the one with another ten.

Thank the clerk and leave. Enjoy your soda or candy bar. Or just throw it out down the block.

Repeat as necessary.

About once every five times, you’ll get a clerk who’s wise to this, a clerk who knows he/she gave you the right change. When this happens, try playing the indignation card—“What, do you wanna search my pockets?” But this usually only works once every ten times or so.

Best thing to do in a case like this is to concede defeat: “Okay, man, you got me.” Smile at him/her, maybe wink, and then quickly (but not hurriedly) get the hell out of there. Not only is it simply right that you acquiesce the victory to the clerk, but also by catering to his/her ego, you lower the chances of him/her calling for a manager or a cop.

Once you’ve killed the afternoon doing this all over town, go to the grocery store and buy diapers, formula, baby food, what-have-you. Pay the full price and get a receipt. This will make it more difficult for the family courts to prove that you are reneging on your child support, even if you haven’t made a full payment for months. It also makes it more difficult for the mother of your only child to snort said child support up her nose.

Visit with your only child for the time allotted to you by the family courts. Make nice with the visitation supervisor. Repeat as necessary.

And that’s about it. You ought to be able to adapt these basics to your own style and then be able to play with the variants from there. But above all, remember:

Life is short. The shortest con of them all.


Jimmy Callaway is officially the first author to contribute to Title Fights with no affiliation to SMSU. Jimmy Callaway is awesome.

A T.R. Switch is, actually, a Transmit / Receive switch found primarily on older CB radios.


  1. This has kicked the ass of anything else I've read today. Simple, dirty, and straight to the point. Rock on, Callaway.

  2. That story was very engaging, nice job.