So this wizened old character rolls in Saturday. He's like a "Hee-Haw" farmer in a wheelchair cart. Straw hat, frayed blue jeans, faded blue plaid shirt and battered leather boots with a faint whiff of the barnyard to them. AND A BOLO TIE WITH THE STATE OF TEXAS.
His face is a ruddy brown, but he's obviously not moving too well, because he has to position the cart right by the counter before he can fumble a bag out. He nearly knocked out two blabbering teenagers, which was actually fine with me because the pair were clogging up counter space to do a MoneyGram. But he never even knew they were there. Deaf as a doornail.
When he gets the bag open, it is a carton of Marlboros. Lord, I bet this old buzzard thought he WAS the Marlboro man a few decades ago.
I don't go any further. "Do you have a receipt sir?" We can't return cigarettes or alcohol without a receipt from our store. If you bought a bottle of wine from the store across town, it has to be returned at that store. ZERO EXCEPTIONS.
He's got a receipt all right. From November. 90 days. This being well past that.
"Sir, I can't return these cigarettes for you." WHAT?
I repeat myself, louder. "WHY NOT?"
I make it a general rule not to yell, and in fact try to LOWER my voice with customers, especially the nasty one. It's a subtle thing. But I'm practically yelling now and the entire line is getting a threepenny opera for free. "BECAUSE YOUR RECEIPT IS FIVE MONTHS OLD. YOU CAN'T RETURN STUFF AFTER 90 DAYS."
"BUT THE CIGARETTES WERE STALE." I bet they were stale if you waited five months to smoke them!"
"I'M SORRY, BUT I CAN'T RETURN THEM." - "WELL WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THEM?"
"I don't know, sir. Why didn't you return them LAST YEAR?" His answer? "Well, I was busy."
As he's rolling out, an Asian woman goes "Hey, how much do you want for those?" And THEY START BARGAINING RIGHT THERE IN THE LINE.
He's trying to get her to pay full price. She's saying "No, you said they were stale." And some other alterna-scruffy white guy with a full sleeve tattoo is like "Lady, five months and any tobacco is stale." People are watching with avid interest. No one cares that I'm open for business. All the drama is on the bargaining.
The guy in the wheelchair cart keeps saying how he feels like Wal-Mart cheated him and she should help him out. She's standing firm at the fact that she's at least giving him something for what he's got, which he doesn't even want right now.
She knocks him down to ten dollars and he forks them over. The tattooed guy is shaking his head. And I'm like "What just happened?"
It was like a freaking swap meet.