#114 – Looking the Gift Horse in his Mouth

Occasionally, I wonder whether cashiers notice the items they’re scanning and then make assumptions about the purchasing customer. Take this morning, for instance. The teenager who rang me up at the pharmacy seemed to be paying attention, and I’m afraid I know exactly what conclusion she reached from my order.

I’d ventured into the store intending to buy a single pack of gum. But while thumbing through my wallet, I happened upon a $50.00 “gift” credit card I’d obtained as a rebate for purchasing contact lenses. Not surprisingly, I hadn’t yet used it. I say “not surprisingly” because I can’t stand rebate cards. The issuing companies make the user jump through hoops by a) precluding purchases that exceed a card’s total value and b) leaving the consumer no easy way to determine the remaining balance. Because of those limitations, it’s nearly impossible to expend a card’s full value.

When I first learned of the gift card’s restrictions, I disgustedly tossed it in my wallet and promptly forgot about it. But when I came across it this morning and noticed the impending expiration date, I grew determined to get my money’s worth. That’s what led me through the pharmacy aisles, calculator in hand, purchasing any items my wife or I might remotely need.

I possessed logical reasons for each of my purchases: a) a plunger because our existing one’s seen better days; b) 9” cooking tongs, because one tong is never enough; c) tweezers, since mine no longer grip securely; d) a package of hemorrhoid cream, due to my wife’s unfortunate needs; and last but not least, e) a box of Ex-Lax stool softener, because my sister’s disgusting constipation story scared the life out of me, and I aim to ensure I never experience the same predicament.

Until I watched the teenage girl ring up my order, it didn’t occur to me that my items might prompt a logical though entirely incorrect assumption.

Pack of Gum:              $0.75

Plunger:                       $2.49

9” Tongs:                     $9.99

Tweezers:                    $3.99

Hemorrhoid Cream:    $12.99

Ex-Lax:                       $16.99

Did I inwardly cringe at the clerk’s disgusted gaze when she handed over my goods? A little, admittedly. Yet one female’s mistaken revulsion seems a small price to pay for a near-perfect shopping effort. I had to pay cash for the gum; but the rest of my order, plus tax, totaled $49.70 … paid in full by my rebate gift card.


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