Before I make the long drive home in early autumn darkness,
My daughter and I meet between her classes for afternoon coffee.
While she digs for dollar bills and comes up empty,
I watch the cash register item-display
...Tall Latte $2.95
Pumpkin Bread $1.85…
WAIT, I protest to the cashier.
That should be one-SEVENTY-five.
No, she says. The computer rang it up for one-EIGHTY-five.
I see that, but the bakery case sign clearly reads
Seasonally Delicious Pumpkin Bread $1.75
There’s nothing I can do, she says. We had a price increase,
but we haven’t received new signs from Corporate.
(Toothy, vacuous smile followed by hair toss.)
Appealing to her moral center, I suggest
You can make a new sign yourself to avoid future false advertising.
We’re not allowed to alter their signs,
So there’s really nothing I can do.
While my brain tries to calculate the Corporate profit
earned when every customer
who celebrates the delicious pumpkin season
is overcharged ten cents,
Erin glides away from me,
toward the Pick-Up Order Here counter,
distancing herself again from my principal-of-the-thing outrage.
I can’t resist one last attempt as I hand over my cash.
You CAN do something, I assert.
You can give me an extra dime.
The register drawer pops open –
She counts back the change for my ten dollar bill
exactly as the computer tells her to
Plus ten cents more.
I smile, tossing the dime into the tip jar.
There is something
I can do.