We love hearing our customers' stories--especially when it's a triumphant (and usually evil) tale involving an Annoy-a-tron. Schadenfreude never gets old.
But the email below from Christina in Atlanta is a little different, and perhaps calls for a warning label on something we wouldn't expect to be a problem.
Christina and her dangerous boyfriend with his Samurai Sword Handle Umbrella.
Three months ago, I bought a product from the ThinkGeek website as a present to my boyfriend--the Samurai Sword Handle Umbrella.
Fast forward to a week ago. Last Friday, my boyfriend wore the umbrella on his back when he came to my dorm room. As we were cleaning my room, we noticed some cop cars outside of the building, but since it was Atlanta, I didn't think too much of it.
About an hour later, my boyfriend received a call from one of his friends and he left my dorm without the umbrella. Five minutes later, he called and said the police told him that they were evacuating the building. He suggested to me that it might be advisable to leave, too, so I left my room and I saw at least three police officers as I passed through the lobby.
Outside of the building I saw about two dozen people near the entrance, and I was about to ask about the situation when I was waved inside by one of the police officers.
The police officer asked, "Did you escort anyone into the building?" As some of these officers had military issued riffles, I was pretty nervous. I replied, "Yes, one person. My boyfriend." The officer asked me if he left the building, to which I replied he did. The officers didn't believe me, and the one officer that I was talking to stated, "We have officers covering all of the entrances, exits, and staircases, and no one has left the building." Nevertheless, having seen him go down a staircase, I maintained my position that he did leave the building.
The officer then asked me to describe him, so I proceeded to describe his hair color, height, eye color, and build. The officer interrupted, "Did this person have a weapon?" Through my nervousness I perceived what the situation was about.
I replied, "He had an umbrella that looked like a weapon. It looks like a samurai sword."
The officers looked at each other. One of them said, "An umbrella?" to which I replied affirmatively. I then helpfully volunteered, "I can call him to come right back over."
The conversation went like this:
Boyfriend: "Hello, what's up?"
Me: "Please come over right away. The police need you here."
Boyfriend: "They do? Okay, I'll come over. What's going on?"
Me: "Please bring your umbrella with you."
Boyfriend: "My umbrella? This is about my umbrella?!"
Me: "Your umbrella. Yes, your umbrella."
Boyfriend: "Okay, I'll come over in a minute. But the umbrella isn't with me. It's in your room."
Me: "Just come over as soon as possible."
After I hung up, the officer told me to sit down, and I was even more nervous when the officer with the big gun was told to watch me.
When my boyfriend arrived, the officer questioned him about the umbrella. He was then told to sit in the chair across from me, and another officer with a big gun was told to stand over my boyfriend.
Two police officers escorted my hall director up the stairs to retrieve the "artifact in question."
After a couple more minutes they came back down. The officer was carrying the umbrella. He then unsheathed the "artifact in question" and popped it open. Another officer said, "We're done here." All of the officers then streamed out of the building. In all, there were about a dozen officers, and four with rifles.
Though we are now prohibited from carrying it on our campus, I would like ThinkGeek to know that we enjoy the umbrella. However, a SWAT team summoning wasn't on the product information page.
Thanks for the email, Christina, and we hope you guys don't get soaked the next time it rains cats and ninjas on campus!
UPDATE 8/18 4:00pm:
After posting Christina's email on August 17, we heard that there was an actual samurai sword attack at Georgia Tech in February 2010 some 7 or 8 months before Christina had a SWAT team descend upon her dorm.
And now, a day after this blog post, a few comment threads on our blog and around the internet have taken the story in several directions. Some find it just funny, or deplore the Atlanta police's reaction. Others say no one has any business carrying around an item that looks like a weapon, novelty umbrella or not.
While we recognize that Christina's incident was probably colored by the earlier February attack--explaining the presence of the SWAT team--we understand the spirit in which she (and we) wield the Samurai Sword Umbrella: it's something like covert, socially-appropriate LARPing, and with a clever nod to the pop culture notion of samurai. (We also carry a Broadsword Umbrella should you prefer a knightly, D&D look.)
It goes without saying that we don't condone samurai sword attacks, or unnecessarily causing a ruckus on your college campus, but we do hope that the Samurai Sword Umbrella Incident doesn't mean you can't have a little fun with an umbrella.
And we'd like to warn all the replicants out there to be ready for a Voight-Kampff test should you be caught with our Blade Runner Umbrella.