Buying a lemon

Last month we got a shiny new Stop and Shop grocery store here in Wayland.  They’ve been having various grand opening specials so we have been dropping by.  I went over there Sunday evening to buy blueberries (two pints for $3! in January!) but they were out of stock.  I managed to leave the shopping list at home, so I had to go by my wits, which is really not such a good idea.

I checked out using the ScanIt! gadget, and this time I remembered to wait for the coupon accepted tone before dropping my coupon in the slot.  Last time I had to have staff fish my should-have-worked coupon out of the guts of the machine and fix it, but I digress.

After finishing, I called Cathy to see what I had forgotten and she told me to remember to get a lemon and to get a rain check for the 10/$10 frozen vegetables they had run out of.  (I already had a rain check for the blueberries).

I didn’t get another ScanIt! machine for one lemon, so I went over to produce and picked out a nice lemon.  66 cents each!  Should be 50. I carefully put it on the scale, typed in the produce code, and entered my quantity,  The machine prints a scannable sticker, which I stuck on the lemon.

At the self-checkout I scanned the lemon and touched “pay”.  While the machine thought about it, I got exact change from my wallet and began to feed in coins.  Around about 55 cents, I noticed the amount due was $4.03.  There was no cancel button.  At that point I looked at the lemon, and the sticker said “7” rather than “1”.   I think the produce machine must have a calculator style keypad, with 7 at the upper left, rather than a phone keypad with 1 at the upper left.

I think this is 1200 baud modem training to blame.  In those days, you typed way ahead of the computer, and since you knew what it was going to do, there was no real need to actually look at the screen when it caught up.

At this point, there was nothing to do but press  the I Need Help button and look sheepish.

A nice girl with bright orange hair came over and I explained.  I think this was a new one.  She scanned her superuser card and after flipping through some screens said “I don’t think there is any way to change an order after you start paying…. But I can refund the money.”

[Side note: The machine refunded a different collection of coins that happened to add up to 55 cents, rather than returning my coins.  I suppose this lets you overload the change and the refund mechanism.]

After she left, I entered 1 lemon through the produce lookup screens, and again hit pay, and started putting my coins in.  This time, after a few coins, the machine said $5 something or other to go.  I had done it again!  Evidently the 7 virtual lemons were still on the tab, as well as the one real lemon.  I had to call for help again.

The same girl with the bright orange hair came over, and apologized to me, apparently for my being an idiot, and this time refunded the money, and deleted the 7 lemon line item, leaving only one lemon.  I successfully paid, and fled.

It is a mixed blessing that the store was essentially deserted.  No one was there to watch my performance, but neither was there any press of work to distract the staff from chuckling over the befuddled customer.

And I forgot to get the rain check for the frozen peas.

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