- Customers who are "surprised" they have to pay
They get in line with their purchases, eventually reach the counter, stand there and watch me ring up the items, and when we have a total it finally dawns on them that they are going to have to pay for these items. With several customers in line behind them, they search one pocket, then another, and yet another. Eventually they fish out an envelope or a wallet and fumble through it, deciding whether this $4.67 purchase should be paid for with five singles, a five dollar bill, a ten dollar bill . . . on up to a hundred dollar bill. Finally, they settle on a twenty. They hand it over and as it is about to be entered they announce, "Wait. I think I have sixty-seven cents."
Twenty-two cents comes out of one pocket, a quarter from another, and finally a lone penny surfaces. "Nope, take it from the twenty."
It did not take that long to implement the Marshall Plan.
- Wait . . .
Some, however find all their bills rapidly. The singles number exactly four, the minimum required to pay their $4.67 debt. This is followed by patting the pockets and saying, "I have to go get the rest from the car."
He (it was *always* a he) leaves, the items are deleted from the register and the next two customers are processed. Mr. Sixty-Seven Cents comes back in and is surprised that the cash register and cashier have not been idle, the world has not stopped pending his return, and his items have to be scanned again.
- Mr. Center of the Universe
As a matter of policy at the liquor store, if I owed you change of $1.29 I would give you a dollar, a quarter, and a nickel. The register might be a few cents short at the end of a shift, but we all knew why and nobody cared. It's simply a very minor nice touch - I didn't burden you with four pennies and other customers didn't have to spend the extra time in line while I dug out four pennies. The smallest of things can make customers happier.
Still, the more or less traditional container sat on the counter, waiting for customers to toss an extra penny or two its way which a future customer might need or find convenient. After the incident I am about to describe I tried not to let the number of pennies build up. When there were three or more pennies I just dumped them into the cash register, knowing that we were not going to kill the deal if someone was a penny or two short.
But one day a customer arrived at the counter with goods totaling some amount ending in eight cents - $12.08, say. He put a ten, two singles, and a dime on the counter but just as I was picking it up he said, "Wait." He had noticed that there were eight pennies in the container. He actually took his dime back, picked up the eight pennies, and put them on top of his bills.
In a mildly pleading voice I said, "Oh, don't do that. That's not what those pennies are for."
He just stood there and looked at me.
Okay. I took the $12.08, entered it into the register and we were done.
A couple of days later he arrived at the counter, gave me bills for his purchase, and watched as I rang him up and the cash register showed that he was due eighty-nine cents. I counted out three quarters, a dime, and four pennies and handed them to him. He knew that in the past I had always rounded such a number up a penny, and he looked at me and raised his eyebrows.
I raised my eyebrows too and said, "Seven cents to go."
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
When I retired (read "when I could no longer find work") I supplemented my financial resources by selling online (easier then than now) but still had too much time on my hands. I took a part time job at a local liquor store, which turned out to be a lot of fun. But . . . there were annoyances, mainly in the form of customers who thought the entire universe centered on *them*.