Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Supermarket Stories: Bucket Hat

I just got in from a late night at the supermarket, so I thought now would be the perfect time to share another supermarket story.

Nearly five years ago, I set off to work and moved at a feverish pace so as not to be late. With the balmy breeze mussing my hair, I was in a delightful mood. My shift started off as usual and things were going well. Being a cashier, I have plenty of time to talk to customers, and this day was no different. I’d rung up a slew of my favorite customers as well as some that were new to the neighborhood. But one customer in particular caused a scene over sales tax.

My favorite line is express because it allows me to get people in and out at a quick pace, without having to spend an enormous amount of time bagging. When I saw that my next customer, an elderly man sporting a bucket hat, only had a six-pack of Pepsi, I was pleased. Such a small order would take no time at all. Boy was I wrong.

As the old man’s long, gaunt face peered up at me, he yelled, “That’s supposed to be $1.99!”

I replied, “Sir, the Pepsi is on sale, with a discount card. Do you have one?”

After failing to answer my question and staring at me suspiciously for several seconds, I said, “Here, I’ll use mine. The total is $2.12.”

“It’s supposed to be $1.99,” he barked, as spittle sprayed from his three-toothed mouth.

“Sir, there’s sales tax, which is why it’s $2.12.”

“F*%k sales tax! I’ll take you outside and kick you in the balls!”

At this point, other customers were staring at him and telling “Bucket Hat” he was being rude. Realizing I was in a no-win situation, I called the manager over to complete the order so I could walk away and calm down.

Following the incident, I came to two conclusions: First, this guy was passionate about Pepsi – although, considering his lack of teeth, he probably should have been buying Diet Pepsi. Second, his resistance to paying sales tax, more than likely, wasn’t linked to an unhealthy obsession with Henry David Thoreau. Instead, I realized, the cheese slipped of this guy’s cracker a long time ago, and there wasn’t anything I could do to help him find it.

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