Yesterday I was Kansas City for business. I had a few hours between meetings and stopped into a local coffee shop. By the time I was ready to leave, the only people left were the barista and one other customer. I made some witty banter with the barista while tossing away my garbage, which prompted her to ask where I'm from. I replied that I live in California, and this led to the customer across the room chiming in to ask which city. It turns out he has a friend who lives near me.

The customer was a big, blusterous, hairless guy, about 35-years old. It helps my story if you have a mental picture of a friendly blowhard who probably played high school football.

I cheekily asked what his friend's name is. It was a long shot, but I figured it would be funny if I actually knew him. The rest of the conversation went like this, spoken loudly across the room of the otherwise empty coffee shop.

Guy: "You don't know him."

Me: "How can you be sure I don't know him?"

Guy: "I can tell by looking at you."

Me: "How can you possibly tell by looking at me?"

Guy: "I can tell by the way you're dressed. My friend's a high roller."

For my non-American readers, a "high roller" is a rich guy. I was wearing jeans and a nice sweater.

Me: "I could be a high roller. You never know."

Guy: "No. If you knew my friend you'd be wearing an expensive suit. He only hangs around with other high rollers."

Me: "Still, I could be a high roller. You never know.

Guy: "No..."

As he continued loudly explaining his hypothesis that people who look like me could never know people who look like his high roller friend, I sketched Dogbert on a napkin. I signed it, wrote my name more legibly below my signature, folded it neatly and handed it to him on the way out.

Me: "Tell your friend I said hi."

I didn't pause to check his reaction, because it seemed funnier to not look back, so I don't know if he's familiar with Dogbert. But the odds are fairly good that his businessman friend has seen it somewhere. That should be an interesting conversation unless he tossed the napkin before he left the coffee shop.

Yeah, I know I was being sort of a dick. But how was I supposed to resist in that situation? I don't have that kind of self-control.


Scott Adams

Co-founder of CalendarTree

Writer of a book

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Apr 17, 2014
Great story! Love your style...
Apr 16, 2014
Nailed it!
Apr 15, 2014
You were in Kansas City and didn't stop by to say hi? Yeah, you are a dick.
Apr 7, 2014
First off I would have handled it far differently, spending 20 or 30 minutes convincing him I was in fact a high roller and - more importantly - that he was wrong. I'd have given everyone in the room a thousand dollars (except dick guy) and copies of my book. Etc...

But that is because I am not as quick-witted as you, Scott. Who cares if it is dickish? It is funny and it passes any Karma test. You weren't any meaner to him than he was to you and in some ways you actually blessed him with a valuable piece of memorabilia.

One thing I couldn't have done was not look back. I'd LOVE to know if he figured it out and what he thinks now. Probably chuckling to himself and thinking he has a great story to tell people now about that time he ticked off that Dilbert guy in a coffee shop.

In all reality, the guy may not have even been trying to be a dick. He might have been trying to make a joke about how no one rich would be in that coffee shop and just generally been trying to make conversation using a socially stunted brain. Believe it or not, there are some people out there who just don't know that they aren't interacting well socially. (Would make a good character - the mean guy who doesn't even realize how what he says could be taken badly.)

But who cares - if it was fun for you and didn't hurt anyone, why not do it? It isn't like you are going to have to reckon with anyone later or have some supernatural diety judge you and condemn you to hell for yanking the chain of a socially inept induhvidual in an KC coffee shop. Live for the moment!
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 7, 2014
The blowhard deserved it. I wonder why he would strike up a conversation with you if he already made up his mind that you couldn't possible be a high roller? Perhaps to get in on the conversation with the barista and then to be annoyed by the stranger engaging him in conversation? Was the barista pretty?

I also wonder if he tossed away the napkin not ever having read a Dilbert or heard of Scott Adams.

Good post though. It should be a commercial of some kind or a scene from a movie.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 4, 2014
@AltantaDude ... poorly drawn Mr. Peabody? LOL!!

@Scott ... Not dickish at all. Frankly, I don't see how any moist robot could possibly resist such low hanging fruit.
Apr 4, 2014
Brilliant! I'd love to have seen his face afterwards.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 4, 2014
Weren't you tempted to steer the conversation in this direction:
(your vis-a-vis) "He only hangs around with other high rollers."
(you, looking him up and down) "so... he's not really your close friend, is he?"

On unrelated topic: a no class dummy gets to have your autographed cartoon while the quiet barista probably didn't even get a good tip.
+32 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 3, 2014
I've been meaning to post this for weeks: my father passed away recently. One of his favorite stories was how he went to use a pay phone in a hotel lobby and found a signed Dogbert doodle on a napkin sitting nearby. He proceeded to crash a talk you were giving and was a huge fan for all his remaining days. Thanks, Scott, for bringing the world some much needed joy.

[I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your dad. When I traveled in those days I often left signed Dogbert sketches on the next-to-top page of note pads I found in hotel lobbies and rooms. My hope was that at least one of them would reach someone who cared. Thanks for telling me this story. You made my day. -- Scott
Apr 3, 2014
HI Scott, just posted on Facebook your goal about escaping from the cell, freeing the other inmates, killing the warden, burning down the prison...life changing! I am going to recommend and purchase this book for all my friends and relatives! Joy
-11 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 3, 2014
I can;t help but notice that you never bothered to introduce yourself.

Are we mere mortals that far beneath your notice that you can't say something like,
"Hi, my name's Scott. I'm a cartoonist."
in a nearly empty room? It's not like you were going to get mobbed in that setting.
+9 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 3, 2014
That high roller might own the cocaine francise in your area. In that case he'd be distinctly unamused if customers were to toss his name around.

Possibly your fellow bar customer realized this too late.
Apr 3, 2014
My father had a story from his days as an intern at a hospital. One day he and a friend joined a third intern. This last, not known as a literary sort, was reading a new hardback by C.S. Forester.*

The friend, a huge Hornblower fan, made some remark about the other even knowing who Forester was.

"I don't know him from Adam," the third said. "But he was on my ward for a few days and he gave me this."

Dad's friend nearly blew a gasket. Forester was literally in shouting distance the previous week and this philistine met him and got an autographed book.

*Author of "The African Queen", the Hornblower novels and other still-in-print bestsellers
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 3, 2014
I'm guessing that his meeting was at the Andrews McMeel Universal building (12th & Walnut). If it really was a "local" coffee shop, it was probably the LatteLand at 12th & Main. Otherwise, Scooter's and Starbucks are the only other close coffee shops. How's my detective work?

[Right about the work, wrong about the coffee. I think it was on 13th. Might be wrong. -- Scott]
Apr 3, 2014
I pretty much work from KC coffee shops and have never had this kind of thing happen. Crazy. I'm *really* curious which coffee shop it was. Most of the ones I've hung around are a little hipstery so probably wouldn't attract "high rollers". Crazy. I hope the rest of your Kansas City trip had more of the typical "nice Midwesterner" interaction.
Apr 3, 2014
Universal Comics is located in KC, which is Dilbert's publisher. (along with Doonesbury, Foxtrot, a bunch of others). I'm across the street if you ever want to get coffee!
Apr 3, 2014
I can see the headlines in tomorrow's tabloids - "Moist Robot Not High Roller Shock."
Apr 3, 2014
It was not a dick move. When someone is acting like a dick and your response is to act like slightly less of a dick, I consider that appropriate and acceptable behavior. Had you started acting like Topper, you may have crossed the dick threshold.

Boy, I have to wonder how much of that will get censored.

Apr 3, 2014
This is why we need an "Uber, but with Helicopters" service, for just this kind of situtation.

Mr. Blusterous stands at the window, looks at your ascending helicopter, looks down at the napkin, looks back up at the helicopter, scratches his head, glances at the barista, squints up at the helicopter...

[Impressively obscure call-back. Nicely done. I know that one was just for me. -- Scott]

Apr 3, 2014
What the heck were you doing in Kansas City?
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