( It is a few minutes before my shift is over and I am working the self-scans with a co-worker. A woman asks me for help with a plastic bag containing a dozen small plastic bottles.)
Me: What can I help you with?
Customer: I have these little bottles and when I scan the package it says that they’re a dollar twenty-nine.
Me: Well, it could be that the entire package is a dollar twenty-nine.
Customer: Actually, I think it means individually because I scanned another bottle and it came up as a dollar twenty-nine so I think it’s referring to each bottle by itself and not the whole package. See the bottle I scanned is already here.
( She shows me a small plastic bottle by the rest of her groceries and at that moment I realize she has thirteen small plastic bottles. The one she had scanned and is with her groceries, and the container that has twelve.)
Me: Hold on one minute and I check with my co-worker.
( I go to my co-worker and she tells me to scan the bottles individually.)
Me:(to customer) Okay, ma’am. I’ll just scan them separately. Since you’ve already scanned one, I’ll just scan the other twelve.
Customer: What do you mean? I only have twelve. I’ve scanned one, now you only have to scan eleven more.
Me: Well, ma’am, you actually have thirteen. There’s the one that you scanned, and the other twelve in this bag.
Customer: What do you mean? I’ve scanned one, so now there’s just eleven left to scan.
Me: Take a look. You’ve scanned one and there’s twelve in this bag so that’s thirteen.
Customer: No, that’s only twelve. I’ve scanned one and now eleven more have to be scanned.
Me: Here ma’am, take a look. ( I count the bottles in the plastic bag and the one that she has by her groceries.) So, take the one that you have already scanned and the ones in this bag and that’s thirteen.
Customer: That’s right. It’s twelve. This one plus the other eleven and that’s twelve.
Me: Yes, but you don’t have twelve. See, there’s the one that you’ve already scanned, plus I’m holding twelve. That makes it thirteen.
(This exchange goes on for a second time as I try to explain to the customer that she actually has thirteen bottles.)
Customer: Look! I don’t have time for this. Just give me twelve if that’ll make you feel better but I know I have eleven.
(Instead, I gave her the “eleven” that she thinks she has just to get rid of her as by this point, I just want to leave and go home to blow off some steam. Truth be told though, after her getting angry with me, I actually felt compelled to add an extra five bottles to her order just to get even. Good thing common sense stopped me.)