The Duane Reade below my apartment has this one cashier who’s there many days. I go in there often. Every time I do, we have the same routine. She rings me up, I pay, then she prints my receipt. End of interaction, right? Not so fast.
Before she hands it to me, she spends an inordinate amount of time examining my receipt.
She does it every single time, and I can’t figure out why. Does she want to make sure she charged me for everything? Does she want to make sure she didn’t overcharge? Does she have a weird fetish for freshly printed receipts?
Does Duane Read have a policy on making each paying customer kind of uncomfortable?
What is she thinking the whole time she’s examining it? What’s she looking for? Has she ever found a discrepancy? Am I in trouble? She always looks at it like I’m in trouble. Why is that?
Every encounter ends the same way, too, which makes it even more vexing: she almost reluctantly hands me my receipt with no further explanation then tells me to have a good day . What could she have thought would go wrong? “Huh….deodorant, bag of pens, and a Cherry Coke…okay, this checks out.” Maybe she’s just genuinely interested in my well being and is analyzing what I buy to help me become a better person. “Excuse me sir, it says here you bought two packs of peanut butter M&Ms AND dental floss…so which is it? Do you care about your oral health or not? What’s next, Skittles and a Waterpik? Get out of my sight, you disgust me.”
The whole enterprise makes me feel as if I did something wrong and I don’t know why. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to pharmacies but it’s in the hundreds, maybe thousands. Not once have I tried to steal anything. When she goes to check that receipt I immediately think, “Oh man, did I shoplift anything?” Then I start trembling before my new God, hoping she is merciful in the punishment she doles out to me for the goods I’ve surely attempted to pilfer. With one nod towards me, she’ll have a security guard patting me down, finding smuggled Advil and shampoo in my back pockets.
She’s a polo shirt and name tag-wearing judge, jury, and executioner.
Just once I want her to find whatever it is she’s looking for to see what would happen. I imagine the scenario playing out like this: her eyes light up. She calls an associate to the front. “Lou, you’re going to want to see this. Get this receipt down to the boys at the lab immediately and shutter the front doors. Nobody goes in or out.” I look at her perplexed. Her disdain for me could not be more apparent. “Could you come with me, sir? We’ve got a few questions for you.” Then off to the side these old timey two detectives in fedoras are standing there. I look like I want to run, but the stern lead detective shakes his head and opens his trench coat to reveal a holstered gun. Sweating, I turn back to the cashier, who whispers, “We can do this the easy way or the hard way. You know what you did, maggot. Now you’re going to pay the price.” Then I make a desperate plea to run anyway and get gunned down in front of a Ghirardelli endcap.
So I beg you, Weird Receipt Checking Lady. Please just explain why you do what you do before I end up going down in a blaze of bullets.