Is Watching

by Jonah

We’re in Nashville visiting Berck’s dad.

He sent us to the store this afternoon for lemons and lettuce. As we waited for the lady ahead of us in the checkout lane to finish writing her check, I weighed the options of paying by credit card or by cash. We try to conserve cash because we don’t have much of it. But paying a $2 tab with plastic seems a little silly.

To add some complication to the matter, signs had been placarded along the line reading, “For your protection, all credit and check transactions must be accompanied by ID. We’re sorry for any inconvenience.” That settled it. I didn’t feel at all bad about using a credit card for a couple of bucks worth of groceries. I could just say I was sorry for any inconvenience to them.

“Paper or plastic!” shouted the mentally challenged girl bagging. I made Berck decide. He picked paper.

I got my credit card and my driver’s license out of my wallet, placing my license on the counter for the cashier to see and swiping my credit card through the lane card reader. We went through the entire process of punching buttons and such, until I was sure I was through with the credit card and ready to put it back in my wallet. The cashier still hadn’t asked to see my ID. Well, maybe they just talk tough, I thought, but I didn’t put the card back in my wallet. Finally, the cashier handed me my receipt to sign. “Write your driver’s license number below the signature,” she said.

Berck, who can’t read, went ballistic. “What?! DRIVER’S LICENSE NUMBER?? What is…” But then he noticed that I was copying down my number (minus the OK that really should have gone in front of it to do any good). “Well, I guess I can’t stop you from giving them anything…” The cashier didn’t even glance at what I’d written on my receipt.

The mentally challenged girl bagging broke in, “It’s for your protection!”

“Then we don’t owe a penny!” Berck exclaimed, “The card company is liable for any amount!”

“It’s in case your card is stolen!” the bagging girl insisted.

I didn’t want Berck arguing with her, so I cut his protests off and said, “So you’ll know where to mail it if someone steals it?”

“No, it’s so no one can use your card!” she insisted.

I picked up the paper bag and turned to leave. “But how do you know I wrote down the right number?”

The poor thing looked completely stumped. But she was probably the only person in the store giving the idea any thought.

I suppose if I shopped at the store regulary I would just draw a quick scribble on the receipt. No, no inconvenience at all.

Leave a Reply