How I broke Key Food.

Last Saturday, I went to a Key Food supermarket to pick up some foodstuffs. At the register, I had this conversation with the little card-swipey machine:

Machine: Your total is $6.54. How would you like to pay? Debit? Credit?
Me: Debit.
Machine: From which account would you like to withdraw money? Checking? Savings?
Me: Checking.
Machine: Would you like cash back? Yes? No?
Me: Yes.
Machine: How much would you like back?
Me: $60.
Machine: Your total will be $66.54. Yes? No?
Me: Yes.

So far, nothing weird has happened. I look expectantly at the cashier and wait for my $60. She looks at the readout on her machine which says, “Change: $60.00.” She looks at the drawer of money and then back up to the readout. Then back down. Then she says out loud, “Sixty?” and looks at me. I don’t know what to say so I give it a beat before I say, “Yes, sixty.” She looks confused. How can the change be $60 when the price of my items was only $6.54? “Maybe she’s retarded,” I think to myself, “Always be patient with retards. Don’t take it for granted that you’re not a retard.” Deep breath.

I attempt to explain: “I put in for $60 cash back with my debit card.” She looks me up and down and gets on the loud speaker: “Maria, please come to register 5.” The guy behind me on line rolls his eyes and finds another line. My body sags. I age. I am moments closer to my death and I have wasted these precious seconds explaining the concept of cash back to a cashier.

Maria finally comes. “Sixty? How is it sixty?” She looks me up and down and gives me some nasty stink-eye. “The maximum you can get in cash back is 25.”

I make sure I don’t look angry. Then I will waste my life in Key Food just being angry. I say brightly, “No one told me.” Which is true. There’s no sign. No hand-written, disgusting, poor grammar sign on a post-it note that says anything about any maximum. The machine even asked me open-endedly how much I wanted back. I made a conscious decision to choose a dollar amount in a multiple of $20 because I’m awesome like that.

Maria looks angry and panicked. “The machine, it’s not supposed to allow you to enter $60. We’re not allowed to give you $60.”

“Well, whatever, there’s a computer glitch. Can I just get my $60 and I’ll be on my way?” I say happily.

Maria and the cashier look like I’ve just asked permission to rip the legs off a live puppy, slowly over the course of a day, watching it whimper and cry as I lick my fingers of its blood and laugh laugh laugh. Maria reiterates for me because I am clearly a monster, “We aren’t allowed to give you $60. We can’t.”

There is a terrible stand-off.

$66.54 has been deducted from my bank account. I’m not leaving without $60 in my pocket. I wait.  Maria gets on the loud speaker, “Tina to register 5.” Tina’s the manager, they explain, as if I give a shit.

Moments tick by. Tina gets there. They explain to her, gesture at me, point at the register, at the machine that has ruined us all. Tina looks terrified. She says to me, I swear, “I’ll have to call corporate headquarters.”

Corporate headquarters needs to be made aware that some crazy idiot in Queens wants sixty dollars cash back. Chief Executive Dean Janeway himself needs interrupt his golf game to approve of this cash back transaction.

The cashier and Maria and I wait while Tina goes to “the booth” to call corporate headquarters. I age a little more. This is wasting my life. It’s taking too long. I have other things to do. Everyone is a retard.

Twenty minutes after the start of the drama, I finally get my damn money and exit the store, leaving horrified expressions on the faces of the employees left to contemplate where their lives went so very wrong. Key Food’s computers have crashed and I have ruined the entire company. My plan was so completely diabolical: Ask for a reasonable amount of cash back from a debit transaction and wait for the whole operation to crumble. Brilliant. I suggest we all try it.

(See how you've wasted your life reading these 750 words?  It kind of felt like that.)