It all begins on Dumbass Day. A few days ago, I had more stupid customers in 1 day than I have ever had in the seven months I've worked at my store. In fact I have several stories from just that day, and so this is the first of many.
We had an otherwise good day other than all the stupid people. Very steady flow of customers, enough that I was keeping busy and never searching for something to do, and not so many that I felt like I was drowning.
A man who seemed to be about 50 holds up his EBT card, and says, "Can you give me 48 dollars?"
Surprised, I said in my perfect retail angel voice, "I'm not sure I understand your question."
"I need to get 48 dollars out of this card in cash." Then he threw his card on the counter. This was mildly infuriating because our whole card setup faces the customer, they do all the swiping and button pushing themselves.
"Well," I said, handing his card back to him. "I have no way of giving you that specific of an amount, and you need to buy something in order to use your card."
"I need 48 dollars, though. Can't you charge me 48 dollars and then just give me the cash?"
I was starting to get annoyed, mostly because EBT is primarily used for food stamps, however there is also EBT cash benefits, which customers can use to buy things they need that aren't food, like toilet paper, toothpaste, things like that. I had a strong suspicion he wanted to pull the cash out to buy drugs, which is in my opinion, a morally incorrect abuse of this government assistance. I see hundreds of single mothers buying toys for their babies with EBT, and then I see guys like him, pulling cash out and using it for booze and things.
"Here's what you can do." I said, while a line was beginning to form behind him. "Our cheapest item is a candy bar, which is 85 cents." I held up a snickers, which he didn't object to, and scanned it. "Okay, now just swipe your card."
He swiped it, (it took him about four tries, he wasn't holding it the right way.)
"Now what do I do?!" At this point he was raising his voice, although no conflict of any kind had occurred yet. Another thing I find annoying.
"Press the button that says 'cash benefits'."
I sighed inwardly and said, "Oops, that was the food stamps button. I'm gonna need you to reswipe your card and select the cash benefits button." At this point I was speaking slowly and clearly because he seemed to be really out of touch with the world around him. He kept making weird grunting sounds and licking his lips.
"I don't know how this shit works! Just give me 48 dollars."
"I cannot give you exactly that amount sir, your options will be ten, twenty, or fifty dollars."
I swiped his card for him, and pressed the button for him. I normally never do this because it makes me uncomfortable to touch other people's credit cards and press buttons for them, unless they are handicapped or very elderly and find it difficult. But now there was a long line of people, impatiently tapping their toes and huffing and puffing, all while staring at me, as if this was somehow all my fault.
I decided to press the buttons for him still, because he seemed to be incapable. But I carefully explained everything I was doing.
"Okay, here it says 'select cash back amount' The only available options are ten, twenty, or fifty dollars. Which would you like?"
So this is how it's gonna be...
"No sir." I said, getting agitated. I paged for a backup cashier because now there were about 5 people behind him, most of them only had 1 item they needed to buy. I honestly felt bad for the people who had to wait behind him.
"What do you mean no? I need 48 dollars! Exactly!"
"Well I'm sorry to hear that because it's just not possible. Should I press ten, twenty, or fifty dollars?"
"I don't give a damn!" He yelled.
"Well, since I have no other options, I'm going to select twenty dollars for you, because fifty would be more than you asked for." I pressed the twenty button, the register opened, and I handed him his candy bar, and a twenty dollar bill.
"Wait," He said. "Where is my 85 cents?!"
"What?" I said.
"You said the candy bar was 85 cents. Where is it?"
"In our computer!" I was the one raising my voice now. "You paid 85 cents for it."
"I don't get it." He said. "I should have $48.85."
"No sir, you should not. You should have twenty dollars exactly because that is the amount of cash our system has extracted from your card. You paid for a candy bar, which is how you were able to use your card in the first place. If I gave you 85 cents I would in fact be paying you to eat candy and that's not how the world works. NEXT IN LINE PLEASE."
I know I was getting harsh on him, but he kept grunting and licking his lips, yelling at me, and being stupid. He reeked of cigarettes and booze and body odor and I couldn't handle him being near me anymore. I know he might have very well been mentally ill but he had the telltale look of a junkie.
This was also towards the end of a 9 hour shift in which I had met more stupid people than I ever have in one day.