PLA025 Taking Over Fred Meyer's Paging System

Taking Over Fred Meyer's Paging System From The Comfort Of Your Own Home

Written by RedBoxChiliPepper on March 10, 1995

Last revision on March 15, 1995

This is a little incident that happened while I was living in Portland, Oregon and a few people said I should write about it so I am so be happy. Most people who don't live in Portland have never heard of a Fred Meyers so I'll tell you what it is first. It's like a big chain of big stores in Portland. I'm not sure exactly where else in the United States they exist but I had never seen or heard about one until I moved to Oregon.

Take a Wal-Mart and a very large grocery store and add a few extra things and you've got a Fred Meyers. They've got a huge grocery section, lawn & garden, a huge hardware store built in, electronics, music, software, videos, a deli, sometimes a big built-in eating area and a lot of other things that I'm probably leaving out. All in all it's not a bad store but that didn't stop what I did to them.

Keep in mind that at the time all of this happened the employees of Fred Meyers were all on strike and they had a bunch of temporary people working in the stores and nobody there really knew what was going on anyways so that just added even more fun to the whole event.

The Discovery:

Me and my girlfriend (Colleen Card) were walking around the Fred Meyers located at Gateway Shopping Center, shopping and eventually got separated. Since I walked all over the store and couldn't find her (not surprising seeing as how the store is the size of a mini-mall) I figured I'd pick up one of the paging phones that are located on posts every few isles for employees and announce all over the store for her to meet me in a certain place.

I found the phone and picked it up and looked at the HUGE list of all the different departments they have to choose from and finally found the All Store Page listed at 1800. So I dial 1800 and hear a loud click throughout the store and I annouce, "Colleen Card to the toy isle. Colleen Card!"

While I was waiting for her, though, the Matchbox cars got really boring by myself (Justin's dad, the kid I met and was playing with, made him go home) so I wandered back over to the phone and noticed that all the department numbers were in the exact same format as the all store paging number. Electronics was 1296, Hardware was 1693, etc, etc. So I wrote down the two phone numbers listed on the front of that phone and put them in my pocket. Colleen arrived and we went home to a supper of Burger King Whoppers. Yeah.

The First Phone Call:

By now I had this big horrific plan in my head that I was pretty sure wouuldn't work but I knew I wouldn't rest until I tried it so the next morning while Colleen was at school I went back to the same Gateway Fred Meyers to test it out. (Gee, have you figured out what I'm doing yet?) I went to the pay phone that's located in a foyer entrance type thing and boxed a call to the inside of the store.

  "Fred Meyers customer service, may I help you?"
  "Yeah, this is Dave in electronics. Could you transfer me to extension
1800? I can't get it to work..."
  "Okay, just a minute, please!"
I hear the funky Fred Meyers hold music for a split second and then total, dead silence. I hit the "*" button and hear it echo inside the store... So I look around the foyer and there's a few people inside with me so I can't really say anything loud. Instead I start playing "Help Me Rhonda" on with the touch tones and my musical masterpiece echos throughout the entire store.

I couldn't wait any longer for the people in there to leave so in a low voice I start muttering into the phone, "Fuck you alllll...You're all going to hell. I will kill yoooooou, I am Satan......." Now you'll have to excuse the total lack of creativity with my first Fred Meyers speech but I couldn't talk very loud and besides, I was excited that this actually worked! I decided to go inside and check out the reactions so I hung up.

The reactions weren't that great when I first got in. Walking by the photo section I heard a customer exclaim to an employee, "Did you hear that crazy guy??" But the employee wasn't too talkative so that didn't get anywhere. When I got to the Deli, things were considerably more active there. A guy in a suit (didn't look like a manager, but who knows...) was talking to another important looking guy (security?) and the suit was pissed!

I went over to the Deli and pretended to look at the menus so I could listen and they were talking about me. I heard a few things to the effect of, "Well, Dan's looking around for him right now." and "If I catch the little fucker..." It turned out that they thought some kid in the store had picked up a paging phone and done it all. Then I noticed a few guys patroling the isles with 2-way radios on their belts. Typical security dudes. So I got bored and went back home, waiting for Colleen to get home.

The Twenty Minute Broadcast:

Later that evening, around 6:00 I had already told Colleen that I'd succeeded and wanted to try it again so we picked up the phone in her room and called Fred Meyers. Again I got the service desk, asked to be transferred to extension 1800, got hold music and then dead silence.

The first thing I yelled into the phone was, "DON'T SHOP FRED MEYERS!" That was the big slogan in town that the employees who were on strike were using so I thought that would liven up the whole strike thing and if nothing, make the local papers. I put on my Good Morning Vietnam CD which starts out with Robin Williams yelling, "Goooooood morning, Vietnam!" and plays the clips of all his best radio stuff, including all the foul language and bad jokes.

Then I played a few good clips from The Jerky Boys's first cassette and started paging people to different departments of the store. After about twenty minutes I hung up the phone so I could call back and make sure I was really on the paging system and not just talking to myself like an idiot. So I called back.

  "Fred Meyers, customer service. May I help you?"
  "Could I have the shoe department, please?"
  "Hold please!"
After about a minute of waiting, I finally got the shoe department. I told the lady I was Dan from security upstairs and asked her if someone was playing with her phone there on the paging system.

"Oh no, sir! That wasn't from this phone. They think it was kids in the food isle. The security guys are looking for them right now..."

The Two Hour Broadcast:

I thanked her and hung up. Now we knew we were getting through okay so I called them back and once again asked customer service to connect me to extention 1800. By this time I guess she had figured it out because she wouldn't connect me so instead I asked her to connect me to Lawn & Garden. When they answered, I had them connect me to 1800 with no problems.

The only thing I can't figure out is why when I was in their system they couldn't somehow get rid of me. Why couldn't they shut off their all store paging system? Why couldn't they disconnect the speakers? Why couldn't they pull the plugs on the phone for a second and then put them back in? Why couldn't they just hang up on line two? Anyway, here's a breakdown of what our two hour broadcast consisted of:

1. Various type of store pages including....
   "Customer Service to the sexual toys isle!"
   "Customer Service to the anal lubrication department!"
   "Customer Service to Customer Service! We don't know what we're doing!"
   "Attention K-Mart shoppers! Don't shop Fred Meyers!"
   "Al, clean up on isle 5. Some stupid bitch just spilled her fucking milk
   all over the fucking floor, the stupid cunt!"
   "AT&T, Please deposit 25 cents..."
   "I need a price check on this vibrating cream."
   "Security to isle ten. A lady is testing out the douches again."
   "Security to isle seven. That little boy is stealing Froot Loops..."
   "Security, monitor register two. BARBARA is working again."
   "Hi, my name is ROY and if you find a furry watermelon, that's my gerbil!"
   "Chris Tomkinson is the bestest, coolest guy in the world! Cactus?"
2. Colleen's Story Time Hour. She read a bunch of children's books and changed
   the wording around to make them quite demented and gross. (This is where
   PLA024.TXT came from, by the way...)
3. Harmonica Hour! Together on harmonica we didn't sound that great but that
   didn't stop us...that alone probably got rid of most of the shoppers.
4. Voiced our opinions of political issues.
5. Told very anti-religious and racist jokes. (We're not against religion and
   not racist people, we were just trying our best to offend everyone.)
6. I played my favorite songs over the store via the local radio station, KUFO.
7. A special announcement by RBCP: "Ladies & Gentlemen, may I have your
   attention please...At this moment I'd like you all to direct your attention
   to the individual working in Lawn & Garden. She is the very person who
   screwed up and allowed us to take over your paging system! Not that bright
   of an employee if you ask me but hey, we're dealing with Fred Meyers,
   right? So ma'am, if you haven't been fired yet...Thank You!"
8. Colleen sang "I'm a Little Teapot" while I yelled "Fuck God!", then she
   started reading off phone sex ads. Then poetry.

Transferring The Call Ourselves:

Me & Colleen went to Gateway again. After getting on their paging system so many times, they must have put out a big-time security alert or something because NO department would transfer us anymore so now I HAD to get it just to show them. Here's what we did...

1. We find a phone in Isle 13 and write down the extension number off of it.
2. I stay there and Colleen runs out to the pay phone.
3. Colleen boxes a call to Fred Meyers and asks customer service for extension
   1625, which is where I'm standing.
4. My phone begins to ring. I pick it up, dial TRANSFER, 1800 and hang up.
5. I run out to the pay phone and we say a few things into the phone such as
   "Ha, ha! We got through! Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah!" and other assorted
   immature things.
6. We get kind of bored and go home. But it WORKED! Ha!
A few days later we called from home and asked to be transferred to extension 1625. A stock boy picked up the phone and we told him exactly what to press and we got on again. They'll never win.

Interview With The Security Man:

After that night it got sort of boring. I was a little upset that none of this made the papers and we never got around to doing it much more after that. Once while Colleen & her dad was in another Fred Meyers shopping, I got in and made a few announcements, played a few touch tone songs, etc, but their system was messed up and they couldn't hear me very well.

So one day I'm hanging around the Portland PDX airport because I have nothing better to do. One thing has led to another and I'm sitting at a pay phone, using the fingernail clippers that I stole from the gift shop to splice open the wires to the pay phone. (They wires were just shoved up under the pay phone wall and easy to get to. I had access to three different phones, including my own.) I didn't mean to, but instead of just stripping the outer cover off the wires, I cut it totally in half. I quickly learned which phone it was when the Japanesse girl next to me looked distressed, started yelling something urgent in the phone, then hung up and went to find antoher phone. Whoops?

So I finally get my phone and the phone next to me successfully hooked together. I called Zak and explained to him what I'd done. Then I patched in the other dial tone and called Fred Meyers in Beaverton. We had no problem getting in to their all store paging. We fucked around for awhile on their system and got bored with it so Zak used HIS three-way to call up the Gateway Fred Meyers. We asked the customer service lady for security.

  "Security, may I help you?"
  "Yes, this is Roy from the Orgonian Newspaper. I was calling in regards to
your problems that I've been hearing about with your paging system?"
  "Well, sir, that's a problem that has been taken care of. Is what was
happening is some kids were dialing in from the outside..." Blah blah blah,
he rattled on for awhile.
After he babbled on for awhile and I asked him some more questions, I asked, "Sir, are you aware that you're participating in a four-way phone call and right now as we speak, our voices are echoing throughout the bowels of Fred Meyers in Beaverton? Now, you say that you're security for Gateway Fred Meyers, correct?" The line was totally silent after that, then it clicks and he's hung up, probably franticly calling Gateway to find out if it's true. I then made an announcement, "Yes, shoppers of Fred Meyers, this is the kind of intelligent people that you're dealing with every day, shopping here!"

We hung up and Zak called Fred's back to ask the lady if we were really on the system. She verified that we were so we asked to be transferred to 1800 and she told us to please hold.

"Security, may I help you?"

"No, she must have misunderstood us. We didn't want security, we wanted extension 1800 so we can frollic around your paging system freely!"

"Well, sir, I don't think that's going to happen."

Another incident with security happened when I called security from Clackamas Town Center, just out of boredom. (The very mall that Tonya Harding likes to skate in, by the way! Boy, do I feel important.) I called Gateway security and had a long conversation with the security lady. I told her I was the one responsible and she said, "I know, I have the same number on my Caller I.D. here." which is bullshit because I'd never called Fred's from that Mall.

  "Well, ma'am, did you think what I did was funny?"
  "No, not at all, actually."
  "I bet you smiled, though..."
  "Well, yeah, until you started getting vulgar. You really upset quite a
few shoppers here."
  "That was my plan, though."
  "Because I have no life."


I know the story just kind of ended there and didn't really have any kind of point to begin with but I thought I'd write it to see what you think. (Which is probably that we all need to get a life.) Since that day we've been on the paging systems of various stores around Portland, saying pretty much the same things each time. It actually gets old after awhile but it's really fun at first. I severely shocked the shit out of myself trying to hook another pay phone to my original two so don't try that unless you're wearing big rubber yellow gloves! It never did make the paper that I'm aware of and the strike is over and things are pretty much back to normal there. So if you want to call Fred's and try it yourself, feel free!

K-Mart uses a similar phone system nationwide but I never have been able to get into their paging system. Actually, I've never been able to get into any other store except for Fred's so please mail me if you get anywhere with other stores. Wal-Mart, perhaps?

Phone Numbers:

Gateway Fred Meyers          503-254-7905
Beaverton Fred Meyers          503-690-5823
Rockwood Fred Meyers          503-669-4600
There's a billion others in Portland, but those are just the ones I have listed and I'm too lazy to dial information. The paging code for most of them is 1800, but Rockwood for some reason is 800. If you want Isle 13 at Gateway, the extention is 1625. (Talk to a not-too-bright stock boy!) I don't encourage actually doing this, but think it would be funny as hell.
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