The Chicken Dance
I stand at the cash register as the tall, balding man in the black hoodie approaches me. He looks like every other customer I’ve helped today: hurried. I can’t help but wonder why they are shopping in a toy store if they are so rushed. Do I look that rushed when I shop for unnecessary items? Do they think I intend to jump them if they don’t look like they’re about to sprint out the door?
“Can I get a PS4?” the man asks as he puts down a couple of games and an extra controller.
“Sure,” I reply as I ring up the system. “That’ll be $678.98.”
The man hands me a wad of cash. The first time this happened, I couldn’t help but wonder who’d walk around with nearly a thousand dollars in cash in their pocket. Apparently more people do that you’d think. I sigh inwardly. I hate having to count large amounts of money: the customer gets impatient, then I feel rushed, sometimes I lose count, sometimes the customer interrupts me and I really lose count. And I risk my job if my till is short. Or if there’s a fake bill in the pile.
“Thank you very much,” I say. I try to smile without looking strained. Is it working? I start to count the money carefully, holding each bill up to the light to ensure that it’s real.
“What are you doing?” the man shouts at me.
I jump. I was not expecting that reaction. “I need to make sure you have given me the right amount of money,” I say as calmly as I can manage. “And it’s store policy to ensure that all bills are real.”
The man rips the money from my hands.
“Hey!” I cry, shaken.
“Look!” he shouts. He begins to count the money out in front of me. “See? There’s enough!”
I stare at him blankly for a moment. “I need to count the money myself,” I say finally. “It’s store policy.”
“Do I look like a criminal to you?” he shouts.
What does a criminal look like? Do they wear a sign? “I never said you are,” I reply. But you probably are. Why else would you be so defensive? “I’m just doing my job. Some fake bills were found in another store a couple of days ago. I could get fired if I let any get in my till.” I begin counting the bills again.
“I am not a criminal!” the man shouts.
Finally my manager comes over. Where were you five minutes ago when he started shouting? I am shaking uncontrollably now.
“Please calm down, sir!” I say, scared.
“What is going on here?” my manager asks me.
“This customer will not allow me to check his money,” I say as calmly as I can. I would really like to burst into tears and run away about now.
“You’ll need to calm down, sir,” my manager says. “Or else I’ll have to call security.”
The man looks my manager up and down as if deciding if he can win the fight. Apparently he has decided otherwise. “I am not a criminal!” the man shouts again. “I demand to speak to your manager.”
“I am the manager on duty,” my manager says.
“No!” the customer shouts. “I want to speak to your manager.”
“Do you mean you want to speak to the store director?” my manager asks. “He’s not in today.”
“Then call him!” the man demands.
“I can’t do that,” my manager replies. “But I can give you the number for head office.” he hands the man one of the store’s business cards with the number for head office written on it. “Now please, either let my cashier do her job or leave.”
The man shouts incoherently.
My manager calls security.
Moments later some security guards come over. The man sees them coming and runs out of the store without his money.
“Call the police,” one of the security guards tells my manager. “That’s the guy who tried to use fake bills at the store across the street.”
My manager hurriedly grabbed the phone and called the police.
The security guards chased the guy around the parking lot until police arrived.
“Is it bad that I have the chicken dance song running through my head as I’m watching this?” I ask my manager.