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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Long Pit Stop

Photo: U.S. Army
It was supposed to be the equivalent of an average NASCAR pit stop – 14 seconds. My plan this morning was to be in and out of Dollar Tree in a minute or less with a box of the pink stuff for my coffee and a three litter bottle of pop.

The round trip should take 12 minutes or less. I would be at my desk with a steaming cup of coffee, complete with the pink stuff, in 15 minutes.

Knowing exactly where both items were located in the store, I found them easily and got in the check out line behind a woman and her little boy.

Uh oh, this doesn’t look good. The clerk looks confused.

“Ma’am, this table cloth is ringing up as one cent and it should be a dollar. I’m going to have to get my manager.”

He walks toward her office, but she can’t be bothered. “Ring it up as a $1.00 miscellaneous item,” she says through the door.

He tries it. This time it rings up as a quarter.

Another clerk comes over to try to help him. And then another. And another. And another. And another. And another. Seven people are now trying to figure out what to do. Nobody thinks to open another register to check me out. I ask one of them to do so and he says he’s not open.

Okay, I might as well settle in. This is going to be a while.

The seven people discuss the possible problem. Maybe he hit the wrong key? Maybe it was entered in the computer incorrectly? Another clerk says it happened to her yesterday too. Finally the manager leaves her office and tells all the other clerks that the item must be on recall and they can’t sell it.

“Maybe you can choose another color,” the manager says to the woman.

“But I don’t want another color. I want this color.”

At this point I don’t want this store. I want another one.

“But I can’t sell you this color. It has been recalled.”

Funny how definitive she is about the recall at this point.

“Well, what are you going to do with them? Throw them out? If so, I’ll take them.”

This is one determined customer. How could I not laugh? My one minute pit stop has now turned into ten minutes and there appears to be no end in sight. I now know what Greg Biffle feels like when the gas man cannot get the can lined up with the car and his stop takes much longer than anticipated.

“Ma’am, we have to return the table cloths to the manufacturer. It’s a recall.”

She sighs and then decides she wants the red table cloths that are not on recall. And the clerk plans to wait for her to return before ringing me up. Thankfully, the manager intervenes.

“Ring up your customer,” the manager says to him.

“That’ll be $2.00.”

I can’t tell you how happy I was that he didn’t say two cents.


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