October 26, 2009

Standing in Line

There is a universal rule when it comes to my retail shopping endeavors. That is, no matter what check-out line I select, the person in front of me will always, ALWAYS, have some sort of issue that lasts 20 minutes.

Take, for example, my family sojourn last weekend to that bastion of cost savings, Sam's Club. Say what you will about the perceived evils of all things Wal-Mart related; you just can't beat 500 diapers for $40. It's enough to make me entertain the thought of dropping the boxer shorts and just wearing diapers myself. It would probably be cheaper, and likely cleaner, in the long run.

Anyway, after loading up the cart with my weight in baby diapers and chicken nuggets, I stepped in line behind the check-out counter. In front of me was an impeccably dressed woman in her mid-40s, with an apparent dual obsession for eyebrow plucking and marinading in high-octane perfume.

I knew I was in trouble the second the woman handed the clerk some sort of tattered card that was obviously not her plastic Sam's Club card. She insisted it was some sort of additional discount card, but the clerk couldn't make sense of it, so of course the manager had to be called over.

It was at this point our baby started to cry. While I wanted to think he was airing his displeasure at the situation, common sense told me he probably needed his diaper changed. So, my wife and I held a whispered discussion about whether to change him in Sam's Club, or wait until we got home.

With the discount card discussion between the woman, clerk and manager entering its fifth minute, my wife decided to change the baby in the store. As my wife strode off to the bathroom to change the baby, the checkout drama entered its next phase.

Whether the woman received her additional discount, I don't know; what I do know is she proceeded to utter a sentence that you simply should not be able to utter anywhere within a stone's throw of any Sam's Club: "Would you take a check?"

It was Sam's Club, for crying out loud. They sell grapes by the barrel. They sell Diet Pepsi by the pallet. They sell VENDING MACHINES, of all things. The point being, paying via check at Sam's Club is like trying to barter at an ATM using chickens and goats. This woman had just spent eight minutes pleading her case with a tattered "discount" card, and now she was going to write a check?

Well, she wrote her check and proceeded to tear it from her checkbook, at which point she uttered the one word you never want to hear uttered when someone tears a check from a checkbook: "Whoops!"

She had basically torn the top left hand corner off her check, which of course meant the check would never make it successfully through the check scanner. But OF COURSE she went and insisted they try it anyway roughly 12 times before admitting defeat and writing a new check.

With CheckWriting 2.0 complete, the clerk ran the check successfully through the scanner and then asked for ID, to which the woman responded "Oh, I didn't bring my ID."


First off, if you're going anywhere that may require any sort of purchase whatsoever, common sense should dictate it's a good idea to grab your ID on your way out of the house. Second, if, for whatever reason, you don't have your ID, you should never write a check in the first place; this is in combination with the aforementioned rule about not writing checks at Sam's Club.

Well, now there was an impasse. The woman had no means other than paying by check, and Sam's Club wouldn't take a check without ID. The woman weighed several options, including driving an hour home to get her ID, which was dismissed due to the frozen goods she had selected.

So, the woman ended up asking the customer in the adjacent aisle whether she'd pay for her goods if she'd reimburse her with a check. I can't convey, exactly, how far my jaw dropped at this point, but I'm pretty sure I have some dirt on my chin from it scuffing the Sam's Club floor. I was thinking, not only was the woman a world-class scammer, she was also hiding testicles the size of two Volkwagons, which would be totally necessary to make a request like that.

As it turned out, the woman actually knew the customer in the adjacent aisle, which tempered my disbelief somewhat, but nevertheless required me to rot in line for several more minutes as the convoluted financial exchange took place.

When I finally got checked through and was headed out the door, my wife came in from outside, carrying our child. She'd been waiting by the car for 10 minutes. She asked what took so long.

"You wouldn't believe it if I told you."

Posted by Ryan at October 26, 2009 02:15 PM | TrackBack

people like that are why i can't even go into those stores. and also why our democracy is fucked.

Posted by: amy.leblanc at November 3, 2009 03:34 PM
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