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Getting A $100 Education

, , , , , | Right | July 5, 2021

My first job is cashiering for [Big Box Chain]. I’m fairly non-social, so I have had to pick up the little intricacies of smiling, nodding along, and small talk. In many ways, I am awfully, extremely, undoubtedly street-dumb, and this is one example of such that arguably worked in my favor. I’m eager to keep my minimum-wage paycheck and not get fired, so I do my best to learn the ropes.

A few months in, I’m starting to get the hang of some things. I’m confident with my register, have picked up a good rhythm for scanning and bagging, and have honed the fine art of keeping the average customer satisfied. But other things haven’t quite absorbed, two of which are relevant here. One, when my register is full of too much cash, the excessive amount needs to be “picked up” and whisked to the accounting office. And two, sometimes the dreaded “quick-change artist” makes their rounds to dupe us hurried, distracted cashiers out of our register money.

It’s a busy shift, I’ve accumulated Too Much Money in my register, and I’m doing my best to get customers’ purchases scanned, bagged, and paid for efficiently. A couple of hours before shift end, a man comes through my till with just a tiny two-pack of chapstick, which he goes to pay for with a $100 bill. For normal people, that’s a probable red flag, but naive me plugs it into the till and the register opens.

The man waves his arm to grab my attention and wants the $100 back, offering to pay with smaller bills. Present-day me knows he is trying to get the $100 back plus the $90-some-odd change.

Naive past me finds this a little odd, but without really thinking too hard, says the first thing that comes to my mind:

Me: “Oh, no, no, it’s okay! I know how hard it can be to break big bills like this. Don’t worry, I can do that for you.”

I don’t know if my genuine desire to be helpful stunned him or if he just figured that I was too foolish to fool, but he said nothing as I counted out and handed him his $90-something change like any other sale. He didn’t say anything and skulked out when I wished him a lovely day.

A couple of days after this, I was finally told what a quick-change artist is, and I got one step closer to being street-average.