Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Racism! at the Stop n' Shop

I was a little sort on cash the other day, so I took my half filled jar of coins and went to the local Stop n' Shop. They have those Coinstar machines, which take a big wet bite out of your total payout (like 9%), but are super convenient.

I walk in the store, and there's a line to use the machine. There was a young Latino couple at the machine, some middle-aged white lady and then me. The young couple's engaged in light conversation in Spanish and pulling out obscene amounts of change from plastic bags. It's clear they've been there for a while, because their total's over $100, even with another bag of change to go.

The lady in front of me turns around and looks at me, which I thought was weird. I live in Revere. People don't look at each other.

When the couple pulls out their second bag of change, the wife looks back at the line (there's someone behind me now) and smiles. The lady in front of me turns around again and gives me a "Can you believe this?" look. What the Hell? I realize that this is some sort of trial by fire for this woman, and that she thinks I'm her partner in adversity.

I can't figure out why she was so agitated that people sometimes have a lot of change. So I sort of suck in my bottom lip and make my eyes all wide, trying to convey a "Hey, what are you gonna do?" sort of look.

The couple finally ends after rolling through like $250 worth of change. No lie. They must have set some sort of Coinstar record. Now it's put-upon lady's turn at the machine.

She gets to the first menu on the machine, which asks if you want the instructions in English or Espanol. She audibly grunts and SMACKS the English button. All of a sudden, everything is clear; she's not upset some couple took a long time at the machine; she's upset some Latino couple took a long time at the machine.

Great. Some racist is trying to make communion with me in the Stop n' Shop.

She punches through the menus and the machine is ready to take her change. Except she doesn't know what to do. The racist lady doesn't know how to use a Coinstar machine, even though the instructions—helpfully written in English, as requested—are on the screen, next to the picture of change falling into the tray.

"What? How does this work?" she asks.

"You have to put your change in that tray and slide it down the slot on the side."

"Oh! OK, thank you!"

So she dumps her change in the tray…and freezes again.

"Now what?"

"Now lift the tray and the coins will fall into the slot."

"Oh! Oh, OK. Thank you again."

Now she grabs the handle and pulls the tray up, dumping all her change into the slot and overwhelming the machine. It accepts like $7 of change from her and rejects the remaining $20-something, which falls into the rejected coin tray.

"What? What happened?" she asks.

"It didn't read the change. You have to take it out of that bottom tray and try again."

"OK, you know what? I don't have time for this, and I certainly don't have the BALLS of that OTHER couple. I'm just going to put this change back in my bag [ed. Note: She really was giving a play by play like this] and take my slip for $7. Thanks for your help."


1 comment:

Gienna said...

She did not say BALLS, you big liar.