Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday Flash Fiction: False Advertising

Every Friday, Kurt posts a new piece of flash fiction. This week...

False Advertising
Word Count: 600

Anna arrived at Caleb’s cash register and pulled her key out of her pocket, ready to do a refund, post-void, or whatever Caleb needed to do that required managerial approval. She smiled at the customer, a wiry old man with white hair and large plastic-framed glasses. “What can I do for you today?” she asked.

“This young man overcharged me for peanuts,” said the customer.

“They rang up incorrectly,” said Caleb.

“Can I see the receipt?” asked Anna. She glanced over it. The display read two for five dollars. The first peanut jar rang up at $2.99, so the second one should have rung up at $2.01, but instead it rang up at $2.50.

“I see what happened,” said Anna. Her fingers flew across the register keypad as she re-scanned the peanut jar and adjusted the price. The coin counter spat out a handful of change. “There you are, sir, fifty-four cents is your refund and I do apologize for the mix-up.”

She put her register key back into her pocket and started to walk away. All in all, it had been a painless transaction that she’d handled in less than thirty seconds. Now she just needed to fix the price in the computer—

“You know that’s false advertising,” said the customer.

Anna stopped. “Excuse me?” she said, trying to sound chipper.

“Charging $2.99 when the sign says $2.50,” the customer helpfully clarified. “It’s false advertising.”

“I’m sure it was an honest mistake,” said Anna, “and I’m going to fix it in the computer right now.”

“I could sue you,” said the customer.

Anna exchanged a look with Caleb. He shrugged. “Excuse me?” asked Anna.

“I know my rights. I could sue you—the store and you personally—for false advertising. I could get you fired. The young man, too.”

Anna was dumbfounded. “Please don’t,” she said, although it had come out sounding rather more like a question.

“Don’t you know who I am?” asked the customer.

Anna shook her head.

“I’m the customer, and the customer is always…”

“Right!” shouted Caleb.

“See?” said the customer. “He knows.”

Anna swallowed. She took a deep breath. Then she climbed up on the counter. “Is that who you are?” she asked. “Well, let me tell you who I am. I am the shift manager, and I am in charge of dealing with brainless shits like yourself whose lives are so vacant and meaningless that you exercise power by threatening the jobs of cashiers who have no choice but to stand there and smile and thank you for shopping with us. You pathetic little man, fretting over fifty-four cents while you shop for discount peanuts. You know what? Sue. Sue me. Do it. And when you find a lawyer who’ll take on your case for forty percent of your fifty-four-cent cash-grab, tell them Anna Kowalski will see them in hell before she forks over another god-damned nickel.”

The customer stared at her. “Are you okay, miss?” he asked.

Anna blinked. She hadn’t stood on the counter. She hadn’t said anything. She still had a job. So, that was a relief. She smiled. “Thanks for shopping with us,” she said.

The customer nodded and left.

“What a jerk,” said Caleb. “Hey, mind if I take lunch early? I was going to meet—”

“Thanks for shopping with us,” said Anna, smiling through gritted teeth.

“You know… I can wait,” said Caleb.

“Good,” said Anna. And she headed to the back to fix the price of peanuts in the store computer.

Edited by Carolyn "Heh, I've Been There" Abram

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