Seventeen Cents

“Ten seventeen,” says the lady. She’s real old, maybe too old to be working.

“The sign said the hats were ten bucks.”

“That’s right, and with tax it’s ten seventeen.”

“Ten is all I have,” I say, looking at the pile of torn singles and dirty change on the counter. “Plus, I’m already wearing the hat.”
She smiles without using her eyes. “I see that. But it’s still ten seventeen with tax.”

That look. Like I’m trash. That makes me lose it.

Next thing I know, she’s down bleeding and I’m pulling bills from the register, running out the door.


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  1. EagleAye

    Yipes! Some people don’t know when to let the Christmas spirit take hold. In the end she lost a lot of cash pushing to get 17 measly cents. This is the cost of being such a miser.

  2. granonine

    Sales tax is always added at the register here in PA. I feel sorry for the shopkeeper, except she shouldn’t treat anyone with disdain. Sometimes a little compassion goes a long way.

  3. pennygadd51

    Mental health is one of the biggest issues in the developed world. The narrator here was plainly ill, and should have been receiving appropriate treatment. Like Russell, I really couldn’t bring myself to ‘like’ the story, even though it’s very well written.

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