One of my most endearing memories is from high school when, while parked at the Sonic Drive-In, my friend was trying to order and the girl working the speaker was basically too incompetent to breathe. Finally, my friend just yelled out "Look, do I got to break it down for you?"
So you know when I gots to "break it down" behind the counter that I'm dealing the cream of the stupid crop.
Now, a Wal-Mart receipt is not all that complicated. Item name, UPC number and price. There's other information, but that's really all that's germane to this discussion.
So this woman (of a certain age) rolls up Saturday afternoon. She's probably a Red Hat Lady in her spare time, but today, she and her companion were doing a garden-party theme. Don't you know that old ladies always shop in pairs?
This old bird (well, she really wasn't all that old, or that little - she could probably start at linebacker for a prep football team) was sporting pale yellow culottes with strawberries embroidered around the bottom hem. Then there was a white tunic and matching jacket with strawberries around the cuffs and collar. And a ladies straw hat. And a gigantic white and pink Lilly Pulitzer bag. The friend had the same outfit, down to the hat, except the friend had on pale blue with grapes. Where do old ladies get this stuff?
Anyway. This woman was convinced - and I mean CONVINCED - that the cashier charged her four times for a lemon pie. (Lemon pie, yellow outfit -- maybe it was a theme!)
So she gets to the counter and slams the receipt down and before I can ever start to ask her what the problem is, she turns loose. "I got charged four times for this one pie and I told the girl she was doing it wrong but she didn't speak any English and didn't want to listen to me and this always happens when I come here and why does this always happen to me and why can't they fix this at the register and what are you going to do about it?"
So I gently tease the recept out of her gnarled and arthritic claws. The that really annoy me won't let me see the receipt while they're talking. Really, you can babble on all day. But I've got to have a receipt to fix the price of your stuff. So shut up and give it to me.
So I see that a pie was charged once. And charged again. And then it was voided off the receipt, probably because the girl realized that she double-scanned it. And then, probably accidentally because the old harridan was yelling at her for double-scanning it while she was trying to bag the freaking pie, the pie got scanned again.
So the score goes like this (Plus One), (Plus One) (Minus One) and finally (Plus One.) For a grand total of (TWO). So the woman got overcharged for one pie. I figure all this out in like ten seconds and tell her so. "Ma'am, I owe you for one pie."
And she totally loses her cool. "What do you mean? I better get more than that."
"Ma'am, it is true that she accidentally scanned the pie more than once. However, she did take one of them off the receipt. It says *****VOIDED ITEM***** and the price has a minus behind it. See, right here?" And I show her.
Her: "I don't understand."
Me: "Ma'am, she charged you for three pies. She took one off. I need to refund you for another one. You're going to get $3.17 back."
Her: "Well, I think I should get more than that."
Me: "Ma'am, that's the price of one pie. That's what I owe you. Do you need me to explain it again?" And I do.
Her: "That's not right. I should get money for three pies back."
Me: "Okay, ma'am. I'm going to illustrate this. Watch me."
And I act out the whole thing using my fingers. Scan one pie, one finger up. Scan another pie, two fingers up. VOID pie off receipt. One finger down, which leaves one pie. Oops, scan another pie, which means two fingers up.
"Ma'am, you're taking one pie home with you. Okay? That means I owe you for the pie you were over-charged for." She's still shaking her head and look to her friend in the blue to back her up. And again she goes "That's not right. You're cheating me somehow."
The woman behind her, who was filling out a MoneyGram, came around and tried to shed some light on the situation. In retrospect, she might have made it worse. "Look, I understand. It's not hard."
But I was DETERMINED to get through this. So I grabbed three boxes of Jello that someone had returned and ACTED THE WHOLE THING OUT AGAIN.
And the old bat was still shaking her head and going "That's not right. I should be getting more back."
Finally, I was like "Ma'am, I'm going to give you $3.17. I can let you speak with someone if you would like, but I really need to help the customers behind you."
And she goes, "You can give me the money. It's not right, but it's not worth my time to argue with you. I just want to get out of here."
Believe me lady, I want you out of here just as bad!