Remember the milk
24 March 2010
On the way back from work I pop into the convenience store by the bus stop, before I run out of milk for the hot chocolate.
During the snow, they were down to two four-pinters of semi-skimmed, which was the first time I thought, ‘Actually, this isn’t a normal winter, is it?’ Except that their supply chain has been as scanty ever since.
I hand over a £5 note and then I tip the change into my purse. It comes as four coins, all the same diameter: one bicoloured £2, one silver and two copper.
I know convenience stores mark goods up so that it’s profitable to open late, but £2-and-something for two pints of milk? I ask for the receipt and tell the shop assistant she’s given the wrong change.
‘I don’t even have that much in my purse,’ I say.
She points to an £1 coin left over from this morning. I empty my purse and pull out the two large coins plus at least 30p in 1s and 2s. There’s nothing that would even add up to the £4-and-shrapnel change unless she’d given me an entire bag of coppers.
‘We’ll have to check it on the camera,’ she says. She asks the young man on the other till to go to the manager’s office and check the tape.
The young man comes back. He nods at the assistant. She opens the till and hands me £2. She says, ‘Sorry.’
And I say, ‘Sorry.’
Yes, I say ‘Sorry’. Apparently I really am English enough to apologise for being given the wrong change, or rather, for exposing a fellow human being to social embarrassment instead of taking the economic hit of pretending nothing ever happened…