The elderly woman leaned across the counter, propping herself up with her forearms. Her customer, a reserved woman with dark hair and glasses, carefully placed her items one-by-one onto the countertop. The old lady read the price of each item out loud as she slid them to the bagger standing next to her. An unused cash register sat at the far end of the counter. Boxes and bags—a hodgepodge of sorts—filled the cramped space behind the checkout.
I waited, next in line, as the two performed their version of Resale Checkout Ballet.
So far, so good. Every item had been branded with the familiar handwritten yellow tag; except for the hardcover book with the bright exterior. Their rhythmic dance faltered as the old lady turned the book over repeatedly in her hands. Her glasses slipped further down her nose as she searched feverishly for the price tag. Several seconds passed before she looked at the woman and declared, "One dollar." The woman was not pleased. She quietly, but firmly, contested as she stared back at the clerk. But the old woman persevered, "It's a popular kids' title—one dollar!"
It was now my turn to face the old lady as I reluctantly placed my only purchase onto the marred checkout counter—an untagged copy of Tuesdays With Morrie.