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The Christmas Coupon Project is a 25-part story; one part each day through December. Head HERE for past installments.
Chapter 8: Checking Out
The cashier was efficient; Charles could see that right away.
She was quickly ringing up the items belonging to the customer in front of him, a woman with two small children. Ring, ring, ring… it was like she’d been doing it her whole life.
“That will be $217.58, Ma’am,” the cashier said.
“Oh my goodness, my husband is going to kill me!” said the customer.
“Um…” the cashier scratched her head. “Should I put something back?”
“I don’t know; I don’t know…” the woman was saying. At that moment, one of her kids hit the other with a toy. She turned her attention to them. “Stop that, both of you, right now!” The littlest one let out a shriek.
“Ma’am?” the cashier asked.
The woman sighed loudly, swiping her credit card. “We’ll take it. But you really need to lower your prices! This is a scam operation!”
The cashier said nothing, but finished up the transaction at the register quickly. “Here’s your receipt; have a nice day.”
“Hmph!” snorted the woman, grabbing the receipt and shoving it into her purse.
Charles could sense the cashier’s relief and frustration as the angry shopper left Albertman’s.
“Sorry about that,” he offered.
“Oh, it’s not your fault,” she said. “Seems to happen a lot these days.” She tucked her shoulder-length brown hair behind her ears.
“Still, not OK in my book,” said Charles.
The cashier started scanning Charles’ items. While he was nervous about whether or not his first transaction with coupons would go as well as he’d hoped, he found himself at ease in the company of this quiet cashier.
“Wow, that lady should learn to shop like you,” the cashier said.
“What do you mean?”
“Look at you – you’re buying all our sale items today,” she looked up at him, and smiled. “Are you on our mailing list?”
“Uh, no, actually,” Charles said. He glanced over at Customer Service. Emo Tim was slouched up against the counter, skateboard in hand, listening to his iPod. He tilted his head up at Charles, a vote of confidence.
“I’d love to get on a mailing list,” Charles found himself saying.
The cashier handed him a card to fill out. “We periodically send out coupons and promotions,” she explained. “But we’ll never use your information for any other purpose.”
It was at that moment Charles realized he’d not handed her the coupons yet. His heart began to pound. He hoped for the best.
“By the way, I have coupons.”
The cashier’s face lit up. “Oh I love a couponer!” Her face instantly reddened. “Oh, I mean…I love it when a customer uses coupons…”
“Really?” Charles could hardly believe his good fortune. “Oh, then – great! Here they are!”
Emo Tim had stressed the importance of making sure the coupons were in order, ready for the cashier before checking out. “Good coupon manners,” he’d told Charles.
“Nice work,” said the cashier after the last coupon had been scanned. “Your total is just $28.71 today.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
She shook her head, smiling.
The receipt printed out, showing that Charles had just saved $56.21. “I can’t believe this!”
“I told you that you needed to teach that lady a thing or two!” said the cashier, reaching over for the card Charles had finished filling out.
“Good job….Charles,” she said, reading his name from the card.
“Hey – I thought you said that my information would only be used for the mailing list!”
The cashier was obviously embarrassed, so Charles put her out of her misery quickly. “It’s quite alright. Thanks for your help tonight….Beth,” he said, quickly reading her name badge.
“Sure thing,” Beth said, “Come again soon.”
Charles folded up the receipt and tucked it carefully into his billfold. He’d just saved more than he spent! He felt giddy, intoxicated even. He wondered if this was how Callie felt, after she had a really great savings trip at the grocery store.
“This could become addicting,” he muttered to himself. Charles had been bitten by the Coupon Bug.
“Tim, that was incredible!” said Charles on his way out the door. Tim picked up his skateboard, and they headed out of Albertman’s.
Emo Tim turned to Charles. “Nicely done,” he said, his breath making a puff in the chilly night air.
But before Charles could respond, Tim darted off on his skateboard, into the dark.