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The Dry Yeast Package
And it wasn't about the price...
There were only four items on Jake’s to-buy list but he still managed to have close to 20 in his cart.
Ever since the stores started with the self-checkout lanes, he hated it. Why should he have to do the store’s work for them? Jake scanned the items one by one, though, and put them into plastic bags until he came to the case of water bottles. He picked up the scan tool, scanned the bar code, and pressed to pay.
He threw all the bags into his cart and headed to the car.
Once at the car, he began unpacking the cart and there it was, the yeast that was on his list.
But it wasn’t in the bag, which meant he didn’t pay for it. He threw his head back and recalled the price being under a dollar.
Jake’s general shopping rule had always been if an item scanned less than a dollar either way outside the shelf price, it wasn’t worth standing in line to return it. If they overcharged but it was under a dollar, it wasn’t worth telling them about it. If they undercharged, not worth it either. In his mind, it all worked out in the end.
But this was different.
This was theft if he didn’t pay for it, though it wasn’t intentional because the package had merged into the top of the case of water bottles.
Or was it theft?
No one checked his bag or receipt.
No one came chasing after him with handcuffs so that was even better.
But Jake knew.
He was having a tug of war in his mind about what he could and should do. He could pay the difference when he went to the store later in the week, but that always confused the store personnel. To his knowledge, they didn’t have a formal process for paying for unpaid items a week after the fact. It was probably such a rare event that it didn’t warrant a formal process.
No, the only thing to do was to march back in and scan the item, pay for it, and be out the door again. No one would be the wiser and his conscience would be clean.
But Patrice the Monitor walked over to him anyhow.
“Didn’t I just see you in here, sir, with a cart full of groceries?”
“Yes, you did,” said Jake. “I forgot to scan this dry yeast package. Discovered it as I was loading my groceries into the car.”
Jake was done paying by the time Patrice closed her mouth and stopped blinking a thousand times.
“Something wrong, Patrice?”
“No, and yes. Um, never seen something like this. You were already at your car and came back in?” asked Patrice.
“Huhn. Interesting. Have a great day. You’ve singlehandedly restored my faith in humanity.”
Jake smiled and said, “Oh, it was nothing, Patrice.”
“No, you’re right. For you I suppose it wasn’t,” Patrice said, her mind wandering. “Enjoy your day.”