Black Friday was living up to its name. The store had been full of shoppers since it opened. People eager to get a bargan and be the first to brag they had all their Christmas shopping done. They were four or five deep at every counter, tipping over the stacks of merchandise as they looked for the item they wanted.
Bethany clutched her bags of earlier purchases and entered the store. She paused just inside the door to get her bearings. Someone bumped into her from behind as they found their entry blocked. Bethany glared at them they squeezed by. “The nerve of some people ,” she muttered. She turned back to examine the store layout and headed for the sweater stand, knocking into other shoppers as she passed.
Standing on tip toes, she peered over the people between her and the sweaters. These looked better than the others she had seen earlier that day. She reached through the other shoppers and picked up the sweater that she liked. With her other shopping bags hanging from her wrists, she held up the sweater in both hands to see the full front and then, turning it, the back. Not what she wanted. She turned sideways, stepped between the other customers to the table, turned back to the display, and dropped the unwanted item on the pile.
Now that there was no one blocking her view, it was easier to look through the items on offer. The rejected one moved to a new pile as she looked for the perfect gift. She liked the look of the next one and hadn’t seen any others with the same pattern. Another shopper put her hand in it but was distracted by the person standing next to her. Bethany grabbed the sweater and pulled it away. She held it up to look at both sides. Satisfied, she checked the size on the label. That was right as well. The people behind her stepped out of the way to let her pass, hoping to take the now vacated space next to the merchandise.
There was a single long line of people waiting to pay for their purchases at the registers. Bethany walked past the line and entered through the exit. One sales clerk was just finishing with a customer so Bethany walked right up to her, just beating the person from the line.
“Hey!”, the beaten shopper said,”you can’t do that. The line is over there!”
Bethany ignored her and put the sweater on the counter.
“I’m sorry, “ said the clerk patiently, “but you’ll have to wait in line.”
“Wait in line?” Bethany sounded shocked. “I don’t have to wait in line. Don’t you know who I am?”
“I’m sorry, but you will have to wait like everyone else.”
“Let me speak to the owner,” Bethany demanded.
“I’ll be happy to call her. Would you please wait over there until she arrives?” the clerk indicated a spot near the end of the counter.
“No,” Bethany insisted. “I’ll wait here.”
The clerk looked at Bethany and again pointed to the spot at the end of the counter. “I’m not going to call the owner until you move down.”
“And I’m not moving down,” Bethany stated.
The two glared at each other for a few seconds. “Look, rather than waste everyone’s time, go ahead and take care of her,” the customer whose turn it was to pay said. “It will be faster in the long run.”
“Are you sure?” the clerk asked. The displaced customer nodded.
Bethany gave ther a look of triumph and pushed the sweater further across the counter.
The store clerk scanned the label. “That’s $49.95.” Bethany opened her handbag, rummaged around for her wallet, opened it and selected her bank card. She began to hand it to the cashier then changed her mind. She put the card back in her wallet and withdrew the payment in cash. Transaction completed, the clerk handed Bethany her sweater in a bag, the receipt, and $0.05 change.
Bethany smiled and put the nickel in the charity collection cup beside the register. “Nice to think of others, especially this time of year.”