On a blustery, winter day I happened upon the PERFECT pair of summer sandals in the clearance section of a sporting goods store I had wandered into merely to kill time.  The price sticker on the lonely pair was ripped and hard to read, but the price was still clearly visible.

First, I waited to pay at the only register that was open. It was the customer service desk, with three people in front of me and no clear signs of life over at the regular checkout counters.  A second clerk behind the customer service desk ignored the line building up behind me, even though the cashier was having some trouble with a return by the customer who was first in line.

Eventually a cashier showed up to ring my purchase over at the bank of registers.  She showed no signs of life when I told her, good-naturedly, that it had been worth the wait in the other line, as long as I had that perfect pair of sandals.

She was troubled by the torn sticker. I could see this; she didn’t actually say anything to me. Anything at all.  Apparently the torn sticker prevented her from keying in the proper product code so that the store’s inventory would be updated.  She called over another clerk, who materialized from folding shirts in the men’s department.  The two whispered to each other, worriedly examining the torn sticker, while the lien behind me was now backing up and growing.

Finally, I suggested they figure out a way to enter the dollar amount, as shown, and let me go on my way.  No answer.  Clerk #2 told #1 that she’d have to go find another pair in the clearance section and she was gone…with my shoes.  When she returned quite a number of minutes later, she told Clerk #1 to ring the second shoes in as if they were the pair I had chosen. The two pair bore little resemblance to each other except that they were both sandals. I feared I would be charged the higher price of the second pair and, so, I pointed this out to the two clerks.  No response, but Clerk 1 began punching numbers…sort of.  It took a while, is what I’m saying, with absolutely no apology.

I was being made to wait so that the store’s inventory system could be updated on my time, yet it was clear to me that absolutely nothing was accomplished in honor of that inventory, as far as accuracy was concerned. At least she charged me the price I had expected.

I had thought about returning to the store to pick up a sweater I had seen, after checking prices at another nearby store, but that plan was immediately abandoned. I wouldn’t be spending more money in that establishment.