Judy always worked slowly. The antique shop did not have a modern cash register, every transaction had to be summed with a calculator. Judy punched the numbers in deliberately, double-checking along the way, then wrote the receipts by hand while the next customer waited. The next customer in line was named Cheryl, but Judy didn’t know that. There was no reason to know, Cheryl was on vacation and was clearly not fitting in to Delaware, Ohio. She wore heavy make-up and a leather jacket amongst dozens of people in cheap windbreakers.
Cheryl was buying a teapot shaped like a tomato; the leafy green at the top of the tomato was the lid. The tomato pot was marked at $35 and Cheryl was trying to get a better deal.
“What can I give ya for this teapot? I like it but I’m not paying $35 dollars, it’s just plastic.”
“It’s ceramic actually, if it was plastic it would melt all over the stove whenever you used it,” Judy said.
“Fine, ceramic, whatever. What kind of deal can you give me?”
Judy didn’t own the store and she didn’t own the teapot, she was just taking the money and pointing tourists towards the bathrooms. “I can take 10% off,” she said.
“10% off? That’s only, like, $3.50. I’ll give you twenty bucks for it.”
“I’m sorry ma’am, but the items here in the store are placed by different antique dealers in the area. I’m not authorized to give you more than 10% off. I’m sorry, I wish I could.”
“Seriously? Where’s the owner? Let me talk to the owner.”
“Mrs. Knott is the owner but she is a rather elderly and sickly woman and does not come in to the store daily. But Mrs. Knott doesn’t own the teapot either, she just leased space to the dealer.”
Judy pushed her glasses up her nose, Cheryl smelled like smoke and it made her nose twitch. Cheryl rolled her eyes and then was unsure if Judy saw her roll her eyes and so she rolled them again. In New York, where Cheryl was from, this ridiculous teapot would cost $60. When Cheryl first saw the price on the teapot she thought she was getting a deal, but she decided to push the clerk a little to save a few dollars. Cheryl wanted the teapot in a way that only a collector of novelty tomato-themed kitchenware could. She had tomato salt and pepper shakers, tomato napkin holders, tomato oven mitts, tomato sugar and flour canisters, and a bowl of overripe tomatoes on the breakfast table.
“Listen, fine, I get it, you just work here, I’ll take the 10%. Here,” Cheryl handed Judy an American Express card.
Judy winced, “I’m sorry, I can only give you the 10% if you pay in cash. With a credit card our discount is 8% off,” Judy hesitated before saying what she said next but she had to say it, “and we don’t take American Express.”
“Are you shitting me? Seriously 2%? 2%? That’s, what, seventy cents? Are you gonna hold up a sale over seventy cents?”
“I think I’m going to have to. It really is just store policy.”
“Fine, forget it, I don’t want it. This is really just insulting.”
Cheryl took back her credit card and stormed away towards the exit when she noticed something she missed before: a tomato shaped cookie jar. She bit her lip and swore when she saw it. Cheryl went next door to the rare coin shop where her husband was perusing and ordered him in to the antique shop to buy the cookie jar and teapot.