“That’ll be $34.18,” the cashier beamed at me, bagging my 3 tubs of yogurt, 2 quarts of strawberries, a dozen eggs and a container of baby spinach. I jolted to attention. There’s no way this can cost $34.18.
I looked at the itemized bill, and sure enough the strawberries — on sale, 2 Qt. for $4.00 — rang up at $4.99 per quart, an overcharge of $5.98. I pointed out the error.
“Where did you see that?” the cashier asked.
“On the on-line calendar announcing your specials, and on the printed calendar just outside the entry way, and on the special Strawberry display setup 15 feet inside the entry way. ”
She looked at me with disgust.
I understand, each cashier is not to blame for the mis-programming of their computer prices. But am I not supposed to bring it up? Not ask her to fix it?
How could this happen, only 12 hours since the movie incident?
“Yeah, these are old,” the recently summoned theater cashier said, reading the two vouchers we presented for admission to see “On The Basis of Sex,” the Ruth Bader Ginsberg bio-pic, about how she fought to end legalized sex discrimination in America. Each voucher specified, “ Valid only at AMC <theater to remain nameless>, from January 14th through the end of engagement, based on seat availability.”
I pointed this out.
He looked at me with disgust.
“Yeah, but January 14th was last week, so these are old,” the ticket boy said.
“The movie is still playing here tonight, right? So the engagement that started January 14th is not over. And this young lady (I said, pointing to the original cashier who did not know how to handle the vouchers) confirmed there are over 100 empty seats in the theater tonight.”
“Well, these are finicky…sometimes we accept them and sometimes we don’t. I’ll get my manager.”
The vouchers, each for two admissions, were printed cardstock, directly from the marketing firm distributing the film. They were made explicitly for THIS showing at THIS theater. There is no option to not take the vouchers. The lawyer I was with said, laughing, “Yeah, I hate those ‘finicky’ contracts that we just get to decide to honor or not, at a whim.”
Waiting for the manager, I thought of the TV Interview I had seen, in the wake of the Sandmann/Phillips kerfuffle on the National Mall – you know, the incident in which Black Hebrew Israelites were yelling racial slurs at white Covington Catholic School Students, who in retaliation did a Faux Maori War challenge-dance, and then native American Nathan Phillips, an Elder of the Omaha Tribe, stepped into the middle and stared down smug teen Sandmann in a MAGA Hat. As the incident wound down, and one of the Native Americans left, he shouted at the Covington Kids, “You stole our land…” – you know, that incident?
In another video clip, a witness says, “The Indians were yelling that we stole their land, but land gets stolen all the time. That’s just how it works.” That’s just how it works. Stuff is taken from us all the time. Suck it up. Rub a little dirt on it. Accept the taker’s right to take.
And that memory rolled into Donald Trump’s interview with Bill O’Reilly. After O’Reilly says Vladimir Putin is a killer, Trump replies, “We got a lot of killers. What, you think our country’s so innocent?” That’s just the way it is…
About then – perfectly timed with the completion of my flashback memory, which I have not in any way fabricated in order to support a narrative. FAKE NEWS!! — the manager arrived. She instantly printed our free tickets, and left us to watch Ruth Bader Ginsberg kick the ass of hundreds of years of entrenched laws and assumptions about the proper, or “natural” role of women in the home and in society. And THAT memory segued back to the grocery store, where I saved $5.98 on strawberries, and I mumbled “I have to blog about this shit.”
We have things take from us daily. We’re told to be nice and smile about it. To pretend it doesn’t exist.
It’s all of a piece, and we’re supposed to not call attention to it. We’re supposed to pretend it’s the natural order of things, this getting screwed through casual error, willful negligence, historical or legal precedent, right-out bait/switch fraud, or unfavorable terms buried 27 pages into an on-line approval document. We’re supposed to accept it is being done to us, move along and not cause a disruption, and then go and do unto others as you have had done unto you. Because that’s just the way it is.
That is the great sin of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and me today: being aware enough of the reality of our day to day existence and daring to point it out and seek change. You are stealing from us, or trying to, on a daily basis. Our land, our free movies, our civil rights, our discount strawberries, our dignity.
Not that I’m comparing my battle with two cashiers as equivalent to Ginsburg’s life-work eliminating injustice (though, it is a flattering comparison, thank you).
It’s “the Natural order.”
But it is not, and it must not be. The benefit of the doubt cannot be given to the programmers of cash registers, the assertion of arbitrary/flexible movie ticket contracts, nor to a man’s right to tell women what they must be or cannot do. The benefit of the doubt must be rescinded from those who take and expect it to go unquestioned.
And, until that day, I guess I’ll just have to learn to accept looks of disgust.