Along my bus route to work is a bakery which serves a cheap breakfast.
Because I need to change busses just outside its window, I usually have
something to eat during the forty-minute lay over. The woman who runs
the shop makes an interesting character study, and she has been
short-changing me for two months.
It may be that she believes me to be wealthy enough to deserve to
pay more for her food. While this is ridiculous (I’ve been a student
for three years, and my wife is still finishing her 5-year degree!), I
guess having to wear a suit gives this impression.
Whatever the case, she always adds a few pence to the total. Over
the past few weeks, she has also taken to giving me less change than
even the additional total would require. So, I might have bought a
sandwich and coffee which should cost £1.50, and she’ll say: “That’s
£1.75, love”. If I give her a five-pound note, I may only receive £1.80
in change. I’ve overlooked this on a number of occasions, not because
the food is great (it is plain, and the bread often from the previous
night), nor because the place is particularly pleasant (It isn’t). No.
I have overlooked it because I couldn’t believe she would consistently
steal from me.
This morning, however, she took it a step further. After giving me
a larger-than-necessary total and subsequently short-changing me (by
£1!), she called me back into the shop to say she hadn’t charged me for
Every morning, I hear her say to a customer “There’s no sausages, I
haven’t had time to get them on this morning.” Her display cabinets,
however, are always empty; and she has to put the coffee on for me
(then makes instant anyway). This conflicts strongly with my impression
of early-morning, working eating. During several months of manual
labour, we started the day at 7 with a full breakfast from a cafe which
had been open (and busy) for an hour or more. This shop opens at 7, and
by 8:40, nothing is filled, and “there’s no sausages”.
“I think you have,” I said.
“Well, how much did I charge you?
“£2.70” (with £1.30 change which I didn’t mention)
“£2.70…” after a considerable pause, during which I did not let her look away
“Oh, I have, yes, I remember, I have”
I shan’t be eating there again, I think. Sometimes a quid is too far to budge!