Many mistakes are not one sided



“People who exploit others come to spend an enormous amount of energy wondering about and justifying that exploitation.” – Mary Beard

A L L  P A R T  O F  T H E I R  W O R K  D A Y 

This week’s Wednesday Word Prompt on my partner Susan and my alternate site  WEEKLY PROMPTS is the word MISTAKES.

Last Thursday morning I visited a nearby Safeway market. I was shopping for a few items for the weekend and the early morning hours were usually not that busy with harried customers trying to get the best bargains for their money. My assumptions about that “quiet time of day” proved later to be my mistake. This is a tale about mistakes.

I completed my order and waited patiently in one of the two manned cashier checkout stations. I thought this would be a simple, non rushed time of the day and the quiet inside the store was a welcomed relief. My mistake- false assumptions about early morning shoppers.

The female shopper ahead of me in line was a Chatty Cathy. She had purchased over $150 worth of merchandise and as her order was being cashiered out she filled the cashier’s ear and mine with her weekend plans, her travel itinerary and a host of other non sequitur information that made the time pass by that much slower. I will label her as The Rock. Her mistake – wasting the cashier’s time with her personal dribble.

As I waited patiently in line an anxious female customer behind me began pushing her shopping cart into my butt and without excusing herself feverishly began placing her mountain of items on the conveyor belt behind my own.

This inattentive mother was busily engaged in a cell phone conversation and had a squirming infant sitting restlessly in the shopping cart. I call her The Hard Place because her actions made it difficult for me to pay attention to my order. My mistake – not speaking up.

When the boisterous customer  in front of me finally finished her travelogue the cashier told her the total. The woman reached into her purse, fished out a credit/debit/charge card and waved it in the air covering the card’s identity. The cashier had to ask her what type of card she intended to use to pay for the purchase. Customer’s mistake – concealing card from cashier.

My order was finally being handled . Th items moved down the line towards the check out point. The cashier was friendly, courteous and at the time I thought efficient at her job.

I stepped to the far side of the counter and when the woman finished calculating my order she did not tell me the total amount of my order. I had assumed that my total was under $50 and simply handed the clerk a fifty dollar bill.

The total on the register screen before I was blind sided was under 40.  I could not see the computer screen she was using to tally my bill and there was another large computer monitor between myself and the cashier. I did not ask for the total. Both our mistakes. 

I handed her a fifty dollar bill and waited for my change. While this was transpiring Miss Anxiety behind me was forcing me out of my place in the waiting area opposite the cashier.

Rather than tell this woman where to go I merely took my change, thanked the cashier, placed the change in my pocket and left the store. All was well and good or so I thought. Wrong. Another mistake – I did not count my change.

I had a busy morning scheduled and when I returned home changed my warm jacket for a more seasonal one and went about my business. I placed the groceries in the cupboards and went about my day and did not remove the receipt or the money from this pocket. My mistake -not checking my change.

Later that same day around five p.m. I rummaged through my other jacket and found the grocery receipt and a hand full of cash. There was over $45 in the pocket and when I examined the receipt I then noticed that the cashier had given me change for a $100 exchange. The receipt indicated that two fifty dollar bills were exchanged.

I counted the money in my wallet. Before going to the store I visited the bank and using the ATM and had withdrawn $300 for weekly expenses — four $50 bills and five $20 bills. The math did not add up. I then knew that my $56 grocery bill had cost me nothing and I was paid an additional $44 dollars by the cashier.

When I discovered the error I returned to the store a little after five p.m. I spoke with a person at the store’s customer information desk and told them the problem. This person then called the head cashier over to the desk and I again related the story.

The cashier in question had worked the morning shift and the money balance in her register’s float had been shy  the $50 I received. A one page computer  print out of my transaction listed the cashier’s name, the items I purchased and the number of bills she had received from me. My identity was not listed on the print out. She had somehow pressed the tab key twice and my mere $50 had morphed into two.

I returned to the store because I did not want the cashier to be charged for her obvious mistake. I also did not want her to have the incident listed on her employee performance record. They wanted the woman’s name and I did not offer it. Besides I did not know her name. The main point for me: the money was returned.

The next day I returned to the store and spoke with one on the managers. I also suggested that all the cashiers be retrained as to the proper way to handle customers and at least tell them their totals with the customer having to be for it.

It would have been very easy for me to merely take the money as a gain and say “to hell with the store” and that would be the end of it. But I empathized with the cashier and felt that her error should not result in my financially exploiting the scenario.

What would you have done if you were in my shoes? Take the money and run or try to right a wrong situation?


Monday morning I returned to the same store to shop for a few essential items. I was also curious to know whether or not the cashiers had received any  additional training. To my surprise as I walked about the checkout stands the cashiers were telling customers their purchase totals.  Good work.  


Word Prompt Mistakes


  1. What would you have done if you were in my shoes? Take the money and run or try to right a wrong situation?

    In your shoes (i.e. being YOU) I would have done exactly the same thing. In MY shoes, things are a lot less ethical, as embarrassing as that might be to admit.

    Depending on circumstances, I might have considered that over payment ‘found money’. Last year at this time I was really strapped for cash, and every penny was important. That extra money would have frankly been a windfall.

    I’m intrigued by this scenario and will reblog it for others to read and debate. I’m also very heartened to know that there are still honest ethical people in the world. A very reassuring fact, given the state of things on the whole. 🙂


    • I think familiarity with the cashier in question helped t o sway my decision. When you shop at a market for any length of time you build a rapport with the staff. You can easily place yourself in their shoes and accept the fact that they are just like you. Human and capable of making mistakes.

      For me the momentary windfall would have plagued by conscience and I would not be able to have that cashier handle my future transactions. Guess that is just me being me.

      In today’s mixed up world you have to set your own standards and rules of behaviour.


  2. Proper reply coming up soon. For now. You have the totals the wrong way around. You have your groceries costing $56 and the extra handed to you being $44 should be the other way around for your fifty dollar bill


  3. I enjoyed the little bits of humour you injected, and I’m pleased that you’re not still stuck between a rock and a hard place!

    The screen at my local supermarket is also out of view, and I’m ashamed to say that even when told the total, I don’t often take any notice. It’s rare I use cash, normally I pay with a debit card.

    You did the right thing and I too would have done exactly the same as you. Well done. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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