“That’ll be $2.99, Ma’am.” The pony tailed, gum smacking cashier held out her hand.
“But the sale price is $1.49. I only have $2.00.” I showed her the sale paper.
“That’s last week’s paper, Ma’am.” She pushed her open hand further toward me.
Down to my last two dollars and now this. Would it be too much to ask to pick up a pair of hose so I wouldn’t look so bedraggled for my job interview?
“I’m sorry, I’ll put them back.” Of course there would be fifty gazillion people in line behind me, and now all of them knowing that I couldn’t afford a stinking pair of pantyhose.
“Uh, I don’t think so. You opened them.” She raised her hand toward the customer service desk, pushed the gum under her tongue and called, “Manager needed at register number three.”
Wasn’t she last year’s Hog Calling Queen? They heard her in the next block.
“Yes, I’m sorry. I had to make sure the waist band wouldn’t cut off my circulation. I thought they were $1.49. I had every intention of buying them.”
The manager fumed over like he’d been jerked away from receiving the Nobel Prize for Grocery Store Management.
“What is it, Tiffany?” She pointed at me. Grand Poobah Manager slid his glasses down to the bottom of his nose and glared me into the dust.
“This lady opened a package of hose, and she doesn’t have the money to pay for them.” She crossed her arms and cocked her head, lips creeping into a triumph smirk.
The sound of the coke machine hum and the crying baby behind me screeched to a halt. My tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth, and then made a gross clucking noise as I took a breath to speak.
“I’m so sorry. I thought they were on sale. I need them for a job interview. Could you just take down my name and let me come back with the rest of the money?” Maybe I could search the couch cushions again for loose change. I’ll take that hole in the ground to swallow me up now, if you please.
“I’ll get your name alright, Lady. Follow me to my office.” He huffed and he puffed and he blew back toward his office without so much as a please or thank you.
“Wait here,” he snarled, motioning me to a dingy chair.
What? Did he need to round up reinforcements? Maybe I should run for it and try to make the interview in my disheveled state. The good impression I planned to make evaporated into unemployment land. I plopped down in the chair and closed my eyes. What could they possibly to do me?
The clock ticked away ten minutes. I opened my eyes and looked around. The manager’s messy bulletin board drooped with old flyers and notes stuck all over it like a ghetto mosaic. My eyes focused on a tear off pad of coupons that read 50% OFF ANY ONE ITEM.
Ah ha. Tearing a coupon off the pad, I stood to my full height, ready to storm the Citadel and claim my rightful place in the world of the gainfully employed.
Another five minutes passed.
The loudspeaker summoned the manager to isle ten, so I took my package of hose, my $2.00 and my trusty half-off coupon and left the office. I got back in line to check out, but not Tiffany’s line.
Beep. The clerk scanned my hose. Beep, he scanned the coupon. “That’ll be $1.50 please.” He smiled as he held out his hand.
I made sure he gave me my receipt in case the manager appeared and accused me of theft. My hand grasped the exit door.
“You forgot your change.”
I hugged him and then raced three blocks to the lawyer’s office where I was to interview for receptionist. Ducking into the lobby restroom, I changed into my new hose.
The attorney arrived fifteen minutes later and apologized. “There was some kind of ridiculous delay at the grocery store. Some poor girl didn’t have enough for a pair of hose. They made a huge, outrageous deal out of it.” A friendly wink set me at ease.
I got the job and a small advance. My new boss gave me a firm handshake. I admired her business suit, and the beautiful, long run in her hose.
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