I was at the counter of my local Key Foods buying the essentials (water, milk, and a Lindt: Classic Recipe Milk Chocolate bar) when the cashier grabbed the chocolate bar she had just scanned back out of the bag. She rescanned it. She typed something into the register. She scanned again. She typed something again. I supposed there was a problem with the price, but with a long line behind me, she shouted to the back.
“Luis! Come here!”
I’ve been a customer at this local Key Foods since I moved to Astoria, and I had learned in that time that this woman was not just a cashier, but also the mother of the owner. Why the owner’s mother works the counter has always been beyond me, but I suppose she’s part of the last generation of people who understand the value of hard work. Luis, a short, extremely bored-looking Latin man with a small handheld computer, approached us.
“Luis, why is this $2.50? It’s supposed to be $2.99,” she asked.
I was surprised. I was hoping she had stopped the line because I was grossly overcharged, but instead I had inadvertently saved 49 cents. Luis took the candy and started typing into his handheld machine.
It was at this point that I began to feel the stress of the people behind me in line, and because I am not a part of this woman’s generation, I care very little about 50 cents. However, before offering to just give her two quarters, I saw on the screen next to the Lindt Classic Recipe Milk Chocolate bar the word “sale.”
“It says it’s on sale,” I told the woman.
Immediately, the woman grabbed the candy bar from Luis, put it in the bag, and quietly shushed me.
“Shhh. It’s ok. Shhh,” she whispered as she handed me my bag.
As I left, I initially figured she didn’t want anybody to know she messed up. But as I walked home, I realized it wasn’t that. She’s the owner’s mother. She can mess up as much as she wants. The real issue was that she didn’t want me announcing to the store that the Lindt Classic Recipe Milk Chocolate bars were on sale.
Well, that’s something she’ll have to work out with her son.
Among other things.