The cashier asked for my phone number and I hadn’t yet changed the old number to my new number on this store account because I didn’t want to risk losing the points I had already earned, so I had to pull the old number out of my head while also trying to remember which PIN number went with the credit card I’d soon swipe.
I exhaled when my name appeared on the register’s screen, at least I had gotten the phone number right, but then the item rang up at $8.99 when I knew darn well that it was advertised at $6.29 on the shelf. I refrained from swiping and looked up to the cashier to point out this error and she told me to hold on a second and left the register, me, and the grumbling line of people behind me, to chase down the shelf this item had come from and, of course, it was all the way at the back of the store so the people behind me grumbled louder and I heard one ask where the hell was the cashier, and meanwhile, that old Tommy Tutone song now played in the background over the store system: I’m of an age where Jenny’s number scrambled another seven digits across my mind.
The cashier returned and needed my phone number again in order to void the first sale before manually entering the lower price and this time it came up as $6.59 and she shrugged and I shrugged and I said $6.59 was fine.
I swiped my card and entered the wrong PIN number, apologized, and felt a bead of sweat form at my hairline when I asked if I could try again and I did and the second PIN number was also wrong. I blushed and asked if I could pay cash or was it too late and the little boy with the second person behind me on line was whining about wanting to go home. I wiped the sweat from my brow.
Cash was fine, but I had to give my phone number again and this time I screwed that up and I was ready to run out of the store, but the cashier was kind enough to tell me it was okay, she understood there were just too many numbers, to try again, and this time I got it right.
Cliff Aliperti is a Long Island-based writer, who has blogged about classic film for several years at his site ImmortalEphemera.com. His fiction has appeared in Sheepshead Review, Fleas on the Dog, CP Quarterly, and on the From Whispers to Roars website.