One can maintain a shred of dignity when making a purchase using 16 quarters. Paying for that stick of Old Spice with 40 dimes is just humiliating.

Remember when stores had four or five people working the floor during business hours? Alas, those were the days. I try to be as patient as possible when I encounter this scenario, as Preppy is responsible for staffing retail with limited hours and I hear the daily horror stories.

I see the only apparent employee in the store assisting at the photo-retouching kiosk. As best I can tell, this guy has brought every family photo taken in the last 30 years. Seriously, he has a cardboard box filled with picture frames.

I find it intriguing that he didn’t even bother to take the pictures out of the frames before making the trip over. What sort of retouching emergency would have a person frantically ripping photos off the walls and dashing out the door?I’m more than happy to busy myself with his imagined backstory. Besides, I’m just here for my stick of Old Spice, and as long as nobody stands too close to me it’s not all that urgent.

The elderly woman behind me with a cart full of discounted candy, however, apparently has places to be. Important places where a shitload of Gummi Bears and Circus Peanuts will be required.

“I need help!” she screams to no one in particular. I’m not certain if she’s referring to the current circumstances, or just bemoaning her life. Both seem valid. Between her leopard-print blouse, bright orange scarf, she could certainly benefit from the help of a stylist. The lone employee assures her she’ll be with us momentarily.

“Ohhhhh, come on!” says Candy Lady, shuffling her feet like she has to pee, which could be the source of her anxiety.

“I think they’re short-staffed,” I say.

“Oh, you think so?” she says with an arched eyebrow. “This is foolishness. She needs to get over here and do her job.”

“She IS doing her job. It’s not her fault.”

Candy Lady responds with a disgruntled snort ― the exact sound my dog makes when she cleans her bikini area for upwards of 20 minutes. The beleaguered CVS cashier has heard this exchange, and gives me a weak smile. When she makes her way to the register, apologizing for the delay, I feel a bony finger poking my shoulder.

“Can I go in front of you?” says Candy Lady.

I look at my one item, and her cart full of sweets. Before I can respond, the cashier speaks up.

“You can wait your turn, ma’am. Please be patient.”

“Foolishness! This. Is. Foolishness!” Candy Lady is on the verge of a breakdown. Maybe she’s grumpy because she has low blood sugar. Maybe she needs to eat candy every 20 minutes to survive. Or maybe she’s just awful.

I give a nod of solidarity to the cashier. And, with barely contained glee, pull the sock from my pocket.

“I hope it’s alright if I pay in nickels and pennies.”

The cashier flashes a beautifully wicked smirk. Candy Lady moans in agony. I turn to her.

“Quiet please. If I get distracted I’ll have to start all over again.”

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