Wait! You Forgot Your Receipt!

The previous post by DA got me thinking about my own issues with receipts:

First, I hate the yellow, carbon-copy receipt some places give you. First, the store is immediately giving you second-class-citizen status. Essentially, they are putting you in your place by saying, “No, you’re not good enough to get the special top copy, with the clean white paper, fresh ink and legible printing. No! That’s our copy! You can’t have the original! You get this worthless, retread copy!”

To begin with, the yellow copy is only readable if there was so much excess ink from the good copy that it bled thru the paper to create your hand-me-down copy. And if it does bleed through, half the time they are impossible to decipher anyway.

Clerk: “Ok sir, here’s your receipt. Have a nice day.”
Consumer: “Uhhh… wait a second. This is just a blank piece of carbon paper… It doesn’t even say anything on it.”
Clerk: “Alright, look… We don’t even have the capability to print receipts. We just give everyone a blank piece of paper because people think they need something after we take their money. People need to feel secure, nestled in at night. This receipt is their security blanket.”

Now, a receipt is essentially a meaningless piece of paper, but somehow it can make any transaction or dealing seem official and legal.

Black-market organ dealer: “Ok, I put the kidneys in the cooler, and here’s your receipt.”
Buyer: “Well, seems like everything is in order… thanks.”

Conversely, not getting a receipt when one is expected makes people very suspicious. It’s an immediate red flag to question the whole operation. The cashier is suddenly as trustworthy as a back-alley three-card Monte dealer. When they do finally present the receipt to me, I look it up and down, pull out a 10-key machine, and perform an IRS-like audit to make sure sale prices, coupons, and all the senior citizen dicsounts I’m entitled to are credited properly.

Finally, I hate it when you purchase a candy bar or something, take your change, and quickly make for the exit, only to have the cashier call after you, “Wait, sir! You forgot your receipt!”

Now, what do I do here? It’s obvious I’m in a hurry. Perhaps the cashier is worried that I’ll be ten miles down the road, realize my gaffe and have to turn around to retrieve my receipt. This person obviously assigns some value to this piece of paper, they are trying to deliver good customer service, and it would possibly hurt their feelings to yell back at them, “Throw it away! I don’t want it! I just wanted to buy a candy bar and get on with my life!”

Instead, what usually happens is I walk back over, and have to endure an awkward moment for all parties involved. The cashier is left holding the receipt out over the counter, knowing in hindsight that she should have just thrown it away. Those waiting in line are annoyed by this unnecessary prolonging of the transaction, and I’m forced to muster an insincere “Thanks” for this worthless piece of paper that I was going out of my way to avoid getting in the first place. It’s just one of the many socially cumbersome moments in our society.

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