still a penny a pound

Three boxes of tissues for my sore, sick nose rode the conveyor belt. Gross nasal spray and a lone potato followed.

I waited.

The nice cashier announced the total of my purchases and I sighed and said, very sweetly, “It didn’t ring up the potato right.” I shuffled in my purse while she investigated.

“What’s wrong?” she asked while she bagged the soon-to-be-my-stuff.

“Your potatoes are still on super sale. That potato should NOT be 69 cents.”

Still, she was stumped so I helped some more: “The sale says they’re a penny a pound. It’s great. I’m coming back after work with a dime to get ten pounds.”

She looked at me like I was batty. I had no defense, so I smiled at her. “Hold on,” she said, and picked up her microphone. “I need a price check on seven.”

A couple started unloading their groceries on the conveyor. I felt a little sorry for them. This might take a while.

In a short-sleeve collar shirt that used to be white, and choked by a brown tie, the bespectacled manager approached with authority. JoAnne gave him room to check things out. He looked down at me and asked, “What’s the problem?” That’s when I remembered I could clear things up with a picture so I whipped out my phone.

“Look. The potatoes are point nine eight cents a pound.” He looked at the picture I’d taken last week and back at the toilet paperlike receipt waiting to be ripped across steel zigzagged teeth.

“It’s right,” he assured me. “98 cents a pound.”

“No, look. It says point nine eight.”

“Right,” he nodded helpfully, “that’s ninety-eight cents.”

“Nooooo. It would be 98 cents if it said ‘point nine eight dollars,’ but it says ‘point nine eight cents.’ See?”

And somewhere deep inside he remembered his deathly fear of decimals and succumbed to my will (I mean, my logic). He tap tap tapped on the keys. The 69 cents came off my tab.

He tap tap tapped some more. He shook his head and clasped his molars together in concentration. Finally he turned to JoAnne and said, “There. All fixed.” And he turned on his heel and walked away.

JoAnne took a peek before she said, “I don’t know what you two just did.”

I smiled at her. “That’s ok. He fixed it.” And I walked out with a free potato, because he couldn’t figure out how to charge me a fraction of a penny.


I just boiled my free potato and ate her all buttered and salted. Delicious.


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