I have in the past posted about my experience with employees who needed firin'.*
Some of these I have developed into longer essays, with a moral and a happy ending.
But, today, something happened that...well, let me tell you. It put me away, speechless. No opportunity for performance art. Just stunned silence.
Had a "buy one fatburger, get one fatburger free" coupon. Stopped by the Hardee's with younger younger Munger to get our share of salt and saturated fat for the day.
I order, "One 2/3 pound vastbruger, and one monster deathburger, please!"
The poor employee (no other customers, and only one non-English-speaking cook to back her up behind the counter) rings up the order, and announces, "$14.95, sir!"
Now, the deathburger is $5.49, and the vastburger is $4.89. Buy one, get one free means you charge for the more expensive one, and get the cheaper one free. I try to point this out. She angrily shouts, "Look, you ordered two vastburgers and two fatburgers, and that costs $14.95!"
Ah, I think, honest mistake. Except then I notice she has rung up a vastburger, a fatburger, and (I'm not making up this name; I made up the other names, but this is real) a "bogoburger." The bogoburger had a price $3.68. It appeared nowhere on the menu. Presumably, "bogo" is a misspelled shortening of "bogus charge".
But, I really felt bad for the woman behind the counter. She had the shape, skin tone, and complexion of a dumpling, probably 50+, and was just confused.
So, I repeated what I actually wanted: "One vastburger, and one deathburger, please. And the coupon says buy one get one free."
She gulps, looks around, and says, "I'm sorry. That makes sense." She yells at the cook to take the other hamburger patties off the grill (!!), then goes off on some long explanation in a language that was not Spanish. The cook appeared to speak only Spanish, and so this didn't go well.
So, she comes back to the register, and rings up:
1 vastburger $0.00
1 deathburger $0.00
And says, "Well, I guess that won't cost you anything, then, with the coupon."
Younger younger Munger and I stare at her, completely frozen.
She says, "It's cheaper if I give you the free one, instead of the one you have to pay for. Don't you want to save money?"
Well, yes, that's true, I do. But... I tried one more time. "Ma'am, the coupon is 'buy one, get one free.' I have to buy one. I owe you #5.49, plus tax, which is..." (I used to work in fast food, I can do it in my head) "...$.39, which is $5.88."
"No, no!", she says. "You had a coupon. So you...OH! (pause) Oh..."
By this time, there is a guy behind me. He is peering over my shoulder; everybody loves a train wreck.
I gave up. She was just staring at me, shaking her head slightly but quickly, a "shut up and go away now, please!" look if I have ever seen one. (And, since I have received that look from MANY women, I have seen one.)
The sandwiches come up, in their little burger coffins. She bags them, and hands me the bag, with a rictus of deathwish on her face. She goes to wait on the next customer.
Now, here's the deal:
1. I stole $5.49 from Hardee's, and $.39 in sales tax from the state of North Carolina. I didn't do it on purpose, and I tried hard to pay, and the employee "gave" me the sandwiches for free. But they weren't hers to give.
2. If I go back and try to pay, she may get fired. At her age, working at Hardee's in the middle of the afternoon, she must not have a lot of other prospects. And she clearly lacked some of the basic skills needed to work in retail. "Buy one, get one free" is not a difficult concept.
3. I could write to Hardee's corporate office, and enclose a check. But we already wrote a letter to Hardee's corporate, about bad service two months ago. We got back a form letter...AND THE BUY ONE GET ONE FREE COUPON.
(*Thanks to the Texan who, when charged with killing another man, used as his entire defense the claim, "But, he NEEDED killin'." Supposedly, he was then acquited, as described in the link...)