WE LOVE HATE MAIL - SEPTEMBER 2033
A lot of you Gen-Xers out there have raised horrible children. Wait...that's completely unfair. Some of you Gen-Xers are still raising horrible children.
And I completely understand. Gen-X had to tolerate atrocities like Phil Collins's Pseu Pseu Pseudio, Yes's We Built This City On Rock n' Roll, and the entire discography of Eddie Money without burning a single US city to the ground.
Thank you for your service to our country.
Hey. This is a long one and I don't want a bunch of you leaving to go fill your coffee cup or beer stein, or checking on your Tamagotchi. Take care of all that crap now so you won't interrupt my easy story-telling narrative. Also be warned that this story has math that might make the hairier apes among you angrier than normal.
It was a typical day for me. I was at the shop, trying to figure out why there was no smoke if the Sun was burning, and a little girl about 8 years old put a Tripe Twist ($5.75 + $0.31 tax = $6.07) on the counter with two dollar bills.
"I'm sorry, sweetie. The Tripe Twist is $5.75."
"THE SIGN SAYS IT'S $1.50," she said.
"I'm sorry. That's the sign for the lamb ears. The Tripe Twist is priced individually."
She grabbed the Tripe Twist and her two dollar bills with an exaggerated "UGH!" and melodramatically stomped over to the bins where she flung the Tripe Twist indiscriminately.
She dug into the lamb ears and got the biggest one she could muster. She marched back to the counter and essentially threw the lamb ear and dollar bills at me. I made the change and gave her a little paper bag for the lamb ear.
She didn't say a word and briskly strode out of the shop.
"What kind of reptiles spawned that demon?" I thought to myself, thinking the worst was over.
It would get much, much worse.
About 5 minutes later, she marched back in with the lamb ear bag and a $5 bill. She grabbed a Tripe Twist and brought them all to the counter.
"I WANT TO RETURN THIS," she said as she thrust the bag at me. "AND BUY THIS." She held the Tripe Twist up in front of my tired face in case I was more of an idiot than she had originally judged.
I credited her for the lamb ear and charged her for the Tripe Twist.
$1.58 for the Lamb Ear return
$5.00 her contribution
-$6.07 for the Tripe Twist
=$0.51 in change. I handed her two quarters and a penny.
"WHERE'S MY TWO DOLLARS?" she said.
I couldn't help think of the movie "Better off Dead" with John Cusak where he is hounded by a hoodlum paperboy for two dollars throughout the entire movie. I desperately wanted to say to her, "Gee Johnny. I don't have a dime," but it would have been a futile attempt to calm the growing rage within me at an 8 year old girl. It would also do nothing to ease the apparently growing rage of an 8 year old girl at me.
She grabbed the receipt from my hand and ran out of the shop.
ENTER "THE PARENTS"
Once they entered, I realized my only hope of ending this infuriating and time-consuming escapade lay in the hope that the older reptiles had more math classes than their vindictive reptile-ette.
The mother stood in the doorway with her hands on her hips, lest I get any ideas of abandoning my shop over 93 cents in change. And The Hell Spawn hid behind her mother.
Her parents apparently emerged from a chrysalis of pure malevolence only moments ago. The father approached me with two receipts in hand and took his wire-rimmed glasses off like he was from the Gestapo or he was just going to start clobbering me with his bare fists with no warning.
There were no niceties uttered between us. I explained the two receipts to him.
He responded, "But where are her two dollars?"
My irritation rose. At this point, I should have probably just given him the two dollars and been done with it. Instead, I foolishly thought I could explain it because the money was nothing now. The principle was everything.
I scribbled on a piece of paper:
+ $2.00 Reluctantly thrown at me by your disrespectful Hellion
- $1.58 (Cost of Lamb Ear)
= $0.42 change given to your undisciplined Hellion
+$1.58 (Lamb Ear credit)
+$5.00 Given by your spiteful Hellion
-$6.07 (Cost of Tripe Twist)
TOTAL CHANGE GIVEN TO YOUR MIND-NUMBED HELLION OVER THE COURSE OF MY OTHERWISE PRODUCTIVE AFTERNOON:
=$0.93 >>> STILL NOT $2.00 <<<
He asked me to explain it to him again like he just exposed me as a crooked Three-Card-Monte shuckster in Central Park.
"Gladly," said I, lying through my clenched teeth. Was this one of my friends stitching me up? Was I on a hidden camera? If so, this was brilliant.
I grabbed a lamb ear and a Tripe Twist from the bins. I took two dollars and a five from the till and left the drawer open for the change. I went through the entire process like I was describing where the molester touched me. People came in and cheerfully helped me explain. The father's assessment that I was some thief stealing from little girl was abating with each person who told him he was wrong. But it was clear that Hellion Daddy still just couldn't follow it. Or couldn't allow it.
In the end, the father looked at his horrible Hell Spawn and asked:
"Honey, did you keep the 42 cents of change from the lamb ear?"
She nodded her head guiltily. Yet she didn't offer the change up, I noticed.
He was disappointed in his daughter, even though it had no bearing on the scope of this little situation. He looked at me and said, "Put the rest in the Shelter Jar," as if I still owed him money.
I wondered how the US educational system failed this entire family so spectacularly.
Yet it was beautiful in it's way. Like giving birth, scarfing 7 hot dogs in under a minute for the world record, or being eviscerated by a pack of hyenas on the Serengetti.
I still had 3 hours 'til close.
~ Don (Not a Dog)
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