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Put Your Money Where Your Non-Stop Mouth Is

, , , , , | Right | January 3, 2021

A woman comes up to the registers with two of her friends. They’re gabbing nonstop, and the lady in question doesn’t even pause as she plops an armful of books on my counter. I can live with this; I don’t have to make small talk. I ring up her books.

Me: “Okay, ma’am. Your total is $11.50.”

Customer: *To her friends* “Blah blah blah.”

She absently pulls out a $10 bill and sort of limply tosses it in my direction.

Me: “Ma’am, the total is $11.50. Do you have another $1.50?”

She barely breaks eye contact with her friend to tilt her head a tiny smidge in my direction.

Customer: “No. So, anyway… [yakkity shmackity].”

Me: *Pauses* “Uh… Okay, then…” *Ahem* “Ma’am, will you please choose which of these books you are not buying today?”

Record scratch. I suddenly have her full and complete attention.

Customer: “What?”

Me: “Please choose which of these books you want me to take off your total and put away, since you’re not buying it today.”

Customer: “What are you talking about? I want to buy them all!”

Me: *Speaking with infinite patience* “Well, ma’am, your total is $11.50. You only gave me $10. I asked you if you had more money to cover the full amount of your total, and you told me you didn’t. So, I need to ask you to choose which book you’re not going home with today.”

I pick up a random book at random, shake it gently in the air, and make as if to go put it on the go-backs shelf.

Customer: “Oh! Wait a minute, I, um, uh…”

She turns a bit red, promptly fishes in her purse, pulls out a $5 bill, and hands it over. I smile my Retail Smile™.

Me: “Thank you, ma’am. Here’s your change. Have a nice day!”

No apology, but she clearly felt at least a little bit ashamed or guilty for not paying attention, because she wouldn’t look me in the eye as her friends make faint snickering sounds.

I don’t think she was being malicious or trying to lie about not having money until she was called out; I just think she wasn’t paying attention at all. She just fired off a “no” at random to what she thought was a generic retail question so she could get back to her all-important conversation. She had no reason to give an anonymous retail person the time of day… until she suddenly discovered that something important was actually happening.

We can all hope that the incident taught her a small lesson, but I’m not taking any actual bets on that.