Last night on my way home from work (left the office right on time, so that I could get some laundry done -- I was going to REMEMBER it this time!) I was lured in by the siren song of the Salvation Army. (Well, I drive right BY it, and it's very inexpensive, and I haven't stopped for weeks, no, months! And they had their Half Off Everything in Store banner up! So come on!)
So anyway, I took one of the weird carts, since all the normal carts were in use, and started my usual route through the store. There wasn't a great deal of stuff, so if I stop by tonight it will probably be crammed with new stuff, the Post-Half-Off giddiness of new second-hand things! WooHoo!
Anyway, I found a few shirts and a sweater and a candle, and looked through the books and experimented with a deep-fryer, and then went and got in line. The check-out man was about ten (or possibly 20, hard to tell) very, very skinny, with a strange bony face and very bad skin and a huge shirt which had come untucked in several places, and an odd voice. But he was very chatty and friendly and and talked nonstop the whole while I was in line. I paid for my purchases and bagged them myself, and headed out to my car.
As I was starting the engine, I saw him running across the parking lot toward me, yelling, "Ma'am! Ma'am!" I slowly stopped the engine and rolled down the window, and he poured out this very confusing story about how he had somehow inadvertently made some huge mistake and I needed to come back in the store and let him run my bank card again, he was so, so sorry. I said, "Wait a minute -- what?" and he started all over again, interspersed with constant apology, so I said, "Okay -- never mind. Let's just go and take care of it."
Back into the store I went with little Mr. Disjointed Apology. We stepped back in front of the guy who had been behind me in line and was patiently waiting to buy a nice pair of wooden shoe trees -- I had looked at those. I handed the clerk my card -- he was babbling about how he hadn't gotten my signature and then when he looked at the receipt he saw that I had only paid $10, when I actually owed $12, and so on and on, he was so, so sorry. So we went through the process of cancelling out the first transaction, and then getting my signature on the second transaction, and then he finally handed me the receipt. I looked at it.
"Well, " I said. "I see the shirts and the sweater, but I only bought one Bric-a-Brac, and here are two Bric-a-Bracs. So what do you think that's about?"
He took the receipt and stared at it, and as I watched, his whole neck and face flushed deep dark red.
"Oh," he muttered. "I forgot to take that guy's stuff off it," gesturing to the patient man behind me. I looked at the man, while Apology Man tied himself in knots apologizing AGAIN! -- STILL! and said, "Well, sir, your shoe-trees are free!" He thanked me, and tried to give me two dollars, but by that time I just wanted OUT OF THERE, so I smiled, said "No problem!" and fled.
I think I will stop on my way home, though, (she mused). You know, just to see the new goods. Don't think I'll buy anything, probably. And if I do, I won't go through the line with Mr. Apology!