Thursday 16 May 2024

Return by Louise Arnott, brewed coffee

‘Honey, these work pants need to go back,’ said Gerald, tossing them to Margaret. ‘You do returns better than me.’

Margaret sighed and held out her hand. ‘Receipt?’

            ‘You don’t need one at Costco, do you? I’ll spring for supper after you dump the pants.’ 

            Margaret grabbed her coat. ‘Come on. I don’t want to be there all night. While I do your return, you get the groceries. I’m assuming your supper splurge is the usual hot dog deal.’

            ‘Hey, I’m no cheapskate. I’ll toss in an order of fries. See you at the food court.’

            Twenty minutes later, when Margaret reached the front of the returns line, an obviously exhausted clerk waved her up. 

            ‘Hi, I need to return these pants. My darn husband . . .’

            The clerk interrupted. ‘Membership? Receipt? Slide them through the slot.’

            Margaret made a pretence of digging through her bag. ‘I’m sure I have it here somewhere,’ and gave the clerk her best oh, so sorry look.

            The clerk, minutes away from retirement, scanned the barcode, struggling to keep the boredom from her voice. ‘No receipt? You get the last sale price.’

            ‘Gerald wouldn’t have gotten them on sale,’ said Margaret. ‘He always pays full price.’

            The clerk eased her shoulders and looked back at the screen. ‘They were on sale in February for $24.99. The last ones were further discounted a week ago. $15.85 plus tax goes back on your card.’

            ‘ No, you can’t do that. I’m sure that he paid nearly $40 for those pants.’

            ‘Ma’am, that is store policy. Not my decision. Do you want a refund?’

            ‘That’s just not acceptable. Gerald will be furious. He said I wouldn’t need the receipt. You could look it up when he bought them.’

            The clerk exhaled. Without a receipt, you get the lowest price.’

            Margaret vacillated. ‘Gee, I don’t know. What would you do?’

            The clerk, beyond caring about customer relations, barked, ‘Truthfully Lady, if it’s your money, find the receipt. If it’s his, give me the pants, pocket the cash and tell him to do his own damn returns in future.’

About the author 


Louise moved from land-locked Calgary, Alberta to Victoria, British Columbia to enjoy ocean views. Instead she spends hours in her basement writing about the uncommon in the commonplace. 

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