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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Get In, Get Out, Get Robbed

I hate using cash.  I absolutely hate using physical bills to pay for goods and services.  Why?
I’ve worked in retail, entertainment, and food industry jobs where cash was usually the only option for paying.   A microscopic look at the bills put into your hands by customers would make the monsters from Pacific Rim look about as threatening as the Care Bear Cousins.

My wallet is akin to something George Costanza would carry.  I stopped putting my wallet into my back pocket years ago to keep the scoliosis at bay.  Also, my card sits right next to my “loyalty” card for whatever store I’m patronizing.   I don’t need to flip through the various folds of my wallet looking for bills to cover the cost.  Not to mention the change you get back having to be organized on your person.  Coins go in a pocket… small bills go in a pocket… large bills in your wallet.  

You have to find the bills.  You have to count the bills.  You have hand over the bills.  They have to count the bills.  They have store the bills.  They have to count out your change.  You have to organize the change.  (see SPACE)

After working where I’ve worked and patronizing where I’ve patronized, using cash leads to errors.   It can either be unintentional or purposely erred on either side of the counter.   When you use a credit or debit card you are creating a paper or electronic trail.  You can physically see the transaction from your institution to the vendor.  If there is an error, it can be seen and dealt with at the POS, or if anything else, you are protected (Well, you should be), by the financial institution transferring the money.    It can take awhile or be an inconvenience to deal with, but so is losing money and/or identity theft.

So, I told you all that to tell you this.   My 74 year old father-in-law uses cash about 80% of the time he pays for anything.  The exceptions are utility bills, credit card bills, and taxes.   Whenever I happen to be out with him, and he needs to get gas in his car, I usually do the pumping and paying.  Yesterday, we stopped at the GetGo in North Huntington, PA.   I pumped the gas and the total came up $54.00.   He handed me the fifty.   Then he handed my four singles.  I placed all of the cash in my left hand and  folded it up.

I walked to the store about 8:05PM, and as I approached the counter, a lady in a green shirt, carrying some groceries approached the same space from a blind aisle.

We sort of did this weird standoff thing where neither one of us moved.   Usually, I would have let her go, even if I was the next person in line.   It just so happened that we had dropped my wife, who was feeling under the weather, off at the store to get some cold medicine and with the rains yesterday, I didn’t want her waiting outside at the store for us to come back and pick her up.     So, I jumped in and handed my cash to the cashier, thinking this would be a quick transaction.   I was trying to practice some Utilitarianism or Vulcanism by fulfilling the needs of the many vs. the needs of the few… or the one.

As I waited for confirmation from the cashier, I turned my attention away from the counter and other people.   Let’s just say it.  I did a quick scan of my Powerball ticket from Saturday.   At that point, the cashier repeated the purchas price and I confirmed. She then said, “You only have $4.00 here.”

I stopped.  I looked in my hands.  I looked around.   I looked back at the counter.  I had five bills in my hands.  I know I did.   Knowing that I was now impacting more peoples’ times, I grabbed the four dollars off the counter and explained that I would be right back.  I needed to tell my father-in-law to go pick up my wife and that I would deal with this.

He left and I retraced my footsteps back to the store.   He would have seen my path to the door from his vantage point.   What the hell just happened.   I expressed that I had no way of not having $54.00 in bills in my hand but that I would deal with this separately, and paid for the gas with my card.   I then went on my way of walking from the GetGo to meet my father-in-law at the front entrance of the Giant Eagle in rain.  He had already picked up my wife and I got in to the jeers of “You are truly an idiot with money” from my wife and my father-in-law saying, “’I’ll pay you back.”   I think at some point, I may have used some unflattering words about the situation.  Karma will find me for that I’m sure.

I called Customer Care when I got home and they put in a request to view the tapes.

Today, I received a call from them and they went through the video while I was in the store.  You can see the following.

  • I approach.
  • The other lady approaches.
  • I put money on the counter.
  • I turn my attention away for a brief period.
  • The lady in the green shirt bends over, out of view.
  • The cashier counts my money, twice, expresses confusion.
  • I take the remaining bills and leave the store.
  • The lady in green completes her purchases and leaves.
  • I return and talk some more.
  • I then pay with my card and talk with the cashier.
  • I leave.

The fifty dollar bill never made it to the counter.  Somewhere between me lifting my arm to place it on the counter and the money actually laying on the counter it disappears.

So, what happened.

I know what I think happened and I know what I would like to believe happened, but truthfully, it is not something I could prove*… So, as my wife, wonderfully pointed out, I am an idiot.   It’s true.  There are plenty of instances where this kind of thing is clearly demonstrated with me and pockets and receipts and cash.  She found a $100 in our driveway once and was overjoyed until she realized it was the one I dropped.

So, in the end, I applaud Giant Eagle/GetGo for their process of responding to and reviewing this incident.   I am also glad that I did not accuse the cashier and that through review of the tape, a little bit of my faith in the youth of America has been restored in that she did not take my father-in-law’s cash. I accept that I am an idiot that not only did not win the Powerball on Saturday, but am now out an additional $50.00 because I had to check my non-winning ticket.   What I do not accept is that someone could have stolen that fifty for whatever reason.  

Speculation breeds conspiracy theories.  They were pissed that I cut them off because they had two handfuls of stuff to buy.   They were a low life that planned to go buy drugs or alcohol with the ill gotten gains.   They bought an extra pack of donuts with the fifty.  Like I said, I made some disparaging comments about them after it happened.  This is my karmic retribution.   I can only hope that they truly needed it more than myself.   I am willing to be out fifty dollars if it helps someone get by another day in their own worse situation than myself.

But, I hope that fifty somehow made its way from a hooker and is now giving someone else syphilis.  The kind that looks and acts like those things from Pacific RimThen again, my hand has been itching since yesterday.

This is why I never use cash and use lots of soap.

*Seriously, if you are the person who took that fifty off the floor, I sincerely hope you needed it.  I have documented time and time again how I try to do the right thing.  I have put my time and satisfaction second when it comes to those less fortunate or the elderly in a lot of occasions, usually to the amusement of my readers.   If your situation is dire and that fifty was a miracle to you, then I accept that and will kindly say, "You're welcome. I hope you can pay it forward."

If you took it because you are just a horrible person, then fine.  Live with that. I will.   Just know that you were seen on the tape and if you used your Advantage Card, that was also seen by the cashier and their system.   You aren't smart enough to beat the system of record in this century.  You got away with a small victory, but the loss prevention department is reviewing all of this and I hope it was worth it.  Bravo to you.

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