Kris and I took a stroll through the neighborhood today to visit the weekend garage sales. First we walked down to Lane’s house to browse his books and knick-knacks. (Lane is a GRS reader, and when we showed up, he said, “J.D., this is all capital-S Stuff!”) Then we hit other sales on the way home.
At the last house, Kris got side-tracked looking at unused vintage postcards. (“They have spots for one-cent stamps!” she told me.) Because I was bored, I visited the corner of the yard where two young (10-year-old?) girls were holding a bake sale — with cookies and donuts they’d bought at the grocery store.
As you know, I always try to support entrepreneurial kids, so I bought one dollar’s worth of goodies. The prices were absurd. The donuts, which probably cost 33 to 45 cents each, were marked at 25 cents. The cookies, which probably cost about 20 cents each, were marked at 50 cents. Who’s going to buy a cookie for 50 cents when they can buy a donut for half that price? Not me.
I bought two donuts and a 50-cent lemonade, paying with a five-dollar bill. The girl I handed the money to looked confused. She opened her cash box and fumbled around for a bit, and then handed me a small stack of coins. Mostly nickels.
“Is this right?” I asked.
“It’s close,” she said.
“Really?” I asked. The girl shrugged.
“How much did I buy from you?” I asked.
She though for a moment. “Seventy-five cents?” she asked. She didn’t seem to know.
“Well, actually, it was a dollar. And how much did I give you?”
“Five,” she said.
“So, how much change should I get?” I asked.
The girl stared at the ground and looked uncomfortable, but she didn’t answer. Finally, the other girl chimed in. “Four dollars,” she said.
“And how much did you give me?” I asked, holding out the pile of mostly nickels.
The first girl shrugged and then said, “But I don’t have enough change.”
I was laughing on the inside; I knew the girl was uncomfortable, but this was silly. I mean, what does she do at the grocery store when she pays cash? Doesn’t she check to see how much she gets back? What’s she going to do when she works an actual job and somebody pays her? Just guess at what the change should be?
“I have an idea,” I said. “Why don’t you ask your Mom if you can borrow some of her money to give me change?” And so she did.
Kris, who had been absorbed in her quest for cheap postcards, didn’t get to see this episode. When I told her about it on the way home, she laughed out loud. “You have to write that up for Get Rich Slowly,” she said. And so I have.
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