Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cash Back


I keep trying to write something. There's a simple story here, but I keep adding from the front. . .giving it too much exposition, too much prologue, backstory, pre-narrative analysis. . .

Again, I'm done with politics. Obama is corrupt and McCain doesn't want to fight him. The ascendancy of the O is all but guaranteed.

So I have to move on. Which is why I'm trying to write about something new again. And I keep trying to write this story, this harmless little anecdote, and I keep erasing everything that I've written. Twice now this has happened. I get the equivalent of five pages into it (it's hard to tell in a pageless blog screen, but it feels like five pages) and then I delete the lot.


I went into a Rite Aid drugstore yesterday morning to buy a candy bar so I could get some cash back. There is no Bank of America in my neighborhood and the Washington Mutual takes out money just for checking your balance.

Do you guys remember when Washington Mutual didn't charge any fees if you used their ATMs with a card issued from another bank? I certainly do. Well, apparently, they've changed their policy.

So I got to Rite Aid at 9 a.m. yesterday morning. I took a King-Sized Reese's Crispy Crunchy Bar and laid it on the counter. "I'm going to need some cash back while you're at it."

"We cannot give cash back now," said the teenage white girl in the hijab.

"What are you talking about? You always give cash back."

"We just opened. We won't have cash back for another hour."

I fumed, "That doesn't make any fucking sense at all."

"Do you still want the candy bar?"

"Fuck the candy bar," I said, moving aside to let the illegal immigrant woman with the five large boxes of diapers limp forward, "I wanted cash back."

So I returned home and spent the rest of the day doing some writing, some e-mailing, and some recording. Time flew as I became increasingly preoccupied creatively. Soon it was 7:50 pm.

I better get down to Rite Aid before they close, I thought, so I can get some cash back for tomorrow!

When I arrived at Rite Aid the second time, the gates over the plate glass windows had been lowered and the electronic door was shut.

Undeterred, I wedged my palms into the opening of the electronic door and succeeded in prying it open. I then took my place at the back of a long line of illegal immigrant women purchasing large boxes of diapers.

A tall African security guard with a thick Kenyan accent ran after me, "Sir, we are closed! Sir, you have to leave!"

"Oh, Jesus, come on, man. . ."

"We are closing, sir!"

"Easy man," I said, "I just want to buy a candy bar so I can get some cash back."

From behind the register, an African-American woman in a sari shouted, "We don't have any cash back now! We're getting ready to close!"

"Aw, come on, it's 7:55!" I yelled, "What is this, fucking Nebraska?"

Nobody said a word. I defiantly stood my place in line among the illegal immigrant women and their large boxes of diapers.

Eventually, the tall African security guard whispered to me, "How much cash back you want?"

"Just twenty dollars, that's it."

"Okay," he said reassuringly.

My anger subsided, "Thanks a lot, man."

He cautioned me, "It's not up to me, though. She is the manager," he said, pointing to the African-American woman in the sari.

"Well, all I want is twenty dollars."

After the illegal immigrant women had left with their large boxes of diapers in tow, I grabbed another King-Sized Reese's Crispy Crunchy Bar--who knows, perhaps the same one from earlier--and laid it on the counter.

"So I'm going to need some cash back," I said to the scowling African-American woman in the sari.

There was an interminable pause. And then, she relented.

"Okay," she sighed, "swipe your card."

I pulled out my wallet, "Thanks a lot. God bless America."

"God bless everyone," she smiled.


"God bless everyone."

I hesitated. "No, you don't understand. I said God bless America."

"I know," she beamed, "but everyone deserves God's blessing."

Yeah, well America needs it really badly right now. So God bless America." I removed my debit card from my wallet and prepared to swipe it.

She shook her head like a persnickety kindergarten teacher, "God bless everyone."

"Oh, for fuck's sake. Does it have to be this difficult? God bless America."

"Everybody in the world needs God to bless them."

My hands were shaking so badly, I was having difficulty aligning the debit card with the machine. "Look, I'll make you deal. How about God bless America, Western Europe, Israel, Australia, and the non-Islamic parts of Africa?"

"God bless everyone."

"I don't want God to bless everyone! Now God bless America, goddamnit!"

"Do you want the candy bar or not?"

"No, I do NOT want the fucking candy bar!"

I was going to storm off in a rage, but I had to wait at the entrance for the African security guard to come and unlock the front doors.