It’s A Cents-less Law

, , , | Right | August 4, 2020

I am working the register and a family approaches me with their purchases. The woman has an empty bottle without any label in her hand.

Woman: “The reverse vending machine didn’t accept this bottle!”

Me: “Well, it doesn’t have a label or barcode, so the machine can’t scan it.”

Man: “Yes, of course, we can see that.”

The woman tries to hand me the bottle.

Me: “What do you expect me to do with that? I can throw it in the trash for you, if you so wish.”

Man: “No, we want our money! It’s twenty-five cents!”

Me: “I can’t do that as it doesn’t have a label.”

Man: “But you are obliged by state law to take all bottles back, even those without labels!”

Me: “I don’t know about such a law, but I do know that I can’t take that bottle back.”

Man: “You have to! It’s the law! I want to speak to the boss!”

Me: “Let me just get the store manager.”

While I lean over to the microphone to call for the store manager, the man goes on and on about how it’s the law and how we have to take the bottle back. Finally, the store manager arrives.

Manager: *To me* “What’s up?”

Me: “Well, these customers want—”

Man: “We want our deposit back for this empty bottle! It’s twenty-five cents! You are obliged by law to take those back!”

Manager: “We won’t take them back. It doesn’t have a label anymore.”

Man: “You have to by law!

Manager: “I’ve never heard of such a law.”

Man: “There is!”

Manager: “What do you expect us to do with it? We can only throw it in the trash; this would be a loss for us.”

Man: “But it’s only twenty-five cents! Don’t make this harder than it has to be! I want to speak to your boss! This can’t be right.”

Manager: “The boss isn’t in today.”

Man: “Then call him immediately!”

Manager: “No, I won’t do that. He has better things to do. I am simply enforcing rules our boss made; we are not supposed to take unlabeled empties. It’s a direct order by him.”

Man: “But you have to; it’s the law!”

By this time, a big line of around ten people has formed behind him, all rolling their eyes and getting more and more annoyed and impatient over the delay that guy is causing.

Me: “Listen, you heard him. Our boss told us to not take unlabeled empties. Neither he nor I can do anything about that. But if you’re so certain that it’s law—”

Man: “It is law!”

Me: “—if you’re so certain about that, a few meters down the street is [Grocery Store]; they take empties, as well, so you can try there.”

Man: “This is horrible service! I will never shop here again!”

The manager speaks with that weird kind of smug smile and tone he can put on.

Manager: “Good, then don’t shop here again. I don’t mind.”

I scan their items and they pay and leave. I go through the queue, checking everyone out as quickly as possible. Once I have no customers again, the store manager approaches me.

Me: “Man, I think I lost brain cells over this.”

Manager: “You know they’re gonna tell them the same at [Grocery Store]?”

Me: “I guess, yeah. I just wanted him out of here. Besides, I want him to run around town for ‘just twenty-five cents’.”

Manager: “Fair.”

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