Here we profile:
The Key Man
Real Name: Jerry T.
Occupation: Hardware store assistant manager. Duties include copying keys for customers.
Story: After three weeks on the job at a hardware store in the Los Angeles area, Jerry dubs himself “The Key Man.” Put in charge of the incredibly powerful key-copying machine, Jerry decides he will use his newfound power to fight evil. Customers do not call Jerry The Key Man. The owner does not call him The Key Man. Only Jerry calls himself The Key Man, and fancies himself a superhero who fights crime.
Problem: Jerry’s officious, self-important attitude rubs customers the wrong way. He struts to the counter and says in a deep superhero voice, “The Key Man is here. What seems to be the problem?”
“The Key Man needs to know”
When a customer explains that he wants to copy a key, typically a house key, Jerry aka The Key Man springs into action, interrogating the customer about the “crime potential” of misuse of the key, who will receive the key, where the new key will be stored, and many other questions. He typically conducts the interrogation with a suspicious squint and prefaces questions with “The Key Man needs to know . . . .”
This starts arguments with customers who answer, “Well, ‘Key Man’ that’s really none of your business,” saying “Key Man” in a disrespectful, sarcastic tone. These customers Jerry classifies as “evil.” He shrewdly does not announce his discovery of their evil nature, but only nods and says, “I understand.”
Then The Key Man really goes into action. He takes way too long to copy a key, announces the machine is “on the Fritz” and even makes imperfect copies he knows will not work.
For months, The Key Man’s secret fight against evil goes undetected. This is due to his very believable disguise of incompetence, and partly because Jerry believes some customers are “good.” But when one customer returns to the store three times with a defective key, the owner steps in and examines the grossly mis-copied key. When confronted by the owner, Jerry explains: The Key Man believes that the customer is evil and supplying him with an extra key “could lead to mischief.”
The hardware store owner fires The Key Man on the spot.
Postscript: Jerry now sells kitchen cabinets at a do-it-yourself chain store. He calls himself The Avenging Kitchen Designer, although he drops the “Avenging” in conversation. You may have encountered Jerry. When his interrogations reveal a customer’s interest in saving money, he interprets this as an intent to “steal from the store.” His main methods of avenging evil: Quoting ridiculously high cabinet prices to customers he suspects are evil and his signature phrase, “That would have to be custom ordered.” Oddly enough, the store manager is fully aware of Jerry’s secret identify and encourages him in his battle with evil.
The “Superheroes among us” are everywhere. Your best defense is to take them very seriously and try not to act evil.