Thursday, March 12, 2009

Curtailed by a coupon

On my way home from work yesterday, I stopped at a supermarket to pick up some staples. I hate shopping during rush hour - parking is scarce, stores are crowded and everyone is tired and hungry. At the checkout, I found myself behind a woman who was searching for a coupon. Her purchases had been tallied and the cashier was waiting for payment as the frazzled customer rifled through her handbag and rummaged in her pockets, to no avail.

As time ticked on, most of the contents of her purse - old receipts, gloves, cell phone, wallet - spilled out onto the conveyor belt. When she couldn't locate the lost coupon, she attempted to negotiate with the cashier, asking her to give the discount without the coupon. The annoyed teenager explained politely that every coupon needs to be scanned. After a sigh of indignation, coupon lady thought it might be in her coat, which she had left somewhere else and the cash register was suspended in mid-checkout while she went off to look for it.

Eventually, I abandoned the line and went to another cash register, muttering under my breath that the woman's behaviour was impolite (I know, I know, an etiquette faux pas in itself. I blame my grumbling stomach). Coupon lady responded to this with a glare that would sink a ship.

When my groceries were bought and paid for and I was leaving the store, the woman was still frantically searching for the errant coupon.

I have absolutely nothing against saving money. We clip coupons in our household all the time. Sometimes we remember to take them when we go shopping and sometimes we don't and they are saved until next time. In this economy, everyone has a right to look for ways to trim costs.

However, since we share all of society's public spaces, we don't have a right to inconvenience others in our quest to meet our individual needs. If you're at a cash register and there are people behind you, find what you need quickly and move on. If you cannot find your coupon (or frequent flyer number or VIP card), you need to save it for next time and get better organized.

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree and I have experienced similar. By similar, I mean those of a particular *age* who count pennies, literally, in order to empty their wallets of the change they've accumulated. While this might have been perfectly normal and acceptable may years ago, unfortunately, we are not as patient any more and with electronic forms of payment dominating cash lines these days, we're accustomed to lines moving faster. I have to admit that I am guilty of getting rid of change at the cash too, but while I wait for the coupon-seeker or penny-counter ahead of me, I do count out what I have to get rid of. At the very least, I know I have, say, $5.00-worth of coins, and just put it in my pocket and can whip it out in a flash. But I'm in PR, we are planners after all.