My Weird Little Trip to CVS

On July 17, 2013 by Eden M. Kennedy

Recently I had the opportunity to explain to a Millenial what a bottle deposit is. I wouldn’t have bothered except that when she asked the cashier, who was ringing up the woman’s giant bottle of Jack Daniel’s, what the extra .05 cents was for, the cashier got flustered and said, “I don’t know,” in this dismissive way, like, “Whatever. Who understands anything?”

Well, listen, CVS cashier with the Bettie Page do and knuckle tattoos, I don’t normally go around shaming cashiers for not understanding every little burden you pass on to the public but why not let’s try to dispel a minor ignorance whenever possible?

I took a breath before I butted in and said, “It’s to encourage you to bring the bottle back to a recycling center, then you’ll get your five cents back.” And the woman was all, “Oh!” *flash of understanding* so I left it at that. I left it to her to recall the times she might have seen people digging through garbage to collect cans in order to turn them in for cash, since she might enjoy extrapolating this for herself in a quiet moment. Having the opportunity to relate new information to our own experience is what really cements a new concept, don’t you think? Whether in the classroom or pre-paying for our hangovers at the drug store.

But then I got to thinking. Since I pay my bottle deposits and then toss my bottles into the recycling bin without getting my money back I was suddenly all, “WAIT A MINUTE WHERE’S ALL THAT MONEY I WANT IT BACK.” (The Internet assures me that unclaimed funds collected on behalf of the bottle bill go to “program administration” (program administrators’ annual Christmas trip to Honolulu) and “grants” (breakfast beers and Tylenol).)

On the heels of this new awareness came a moral dilemma. I was next up and the total for the box of push pins I was buying so Jackson’s taped-up posters would quit falling off his wall was something like $3.31 so I gave Bettie Page a $10 bill and a penny. I’ve been making change semi-professionally for 35 years, sadly, so I do that shit all the time, here’s two pennies and a dime and three extra dollars, just so I don’t get a pound of small change back from every transaction. It makes me feel like my father but my collarbones were once made uneven from the weight of my shoulder bag and I am not having any of that anymore.

Maybe the line behind me was throwing her off, the feeling that all of these people were staring at her and willing her to go faster. I gave her $10.01. She stared at the penny and then looked at me like, What is this? Then she turned and punched $1.00 into the cash register. Naturally, the cash register said, A dollar? Did you not hear me correctly? I need $3.31. So Bettie goes, Oh, um, fuck, and punches in $10.00. Now the cash register was all, YOU GAVE ME $11.00 FOR SOME REASON and the cashier was all, GAAHHH HERE TAKE ALL THE MONEY, and just shoved a bunch of change into my hand. I didn’t even question it, even though I knew she’d just paid me to shoplift a half-price box of push pins, because at that point I was 93% Wow, you really don’t care you just want to get rid of me, and 7% YAY FREE PUSH PINS!

I’m not normally one to take advantage in these situations, but fuck this CVS. The same thing happened to me there last month with a cashier who was never trained on how to make change without depending on the register to do it for him, and who just mashed a bunch of buttons on the key pad and then probably lost his job at the end of the shift because his receipts were like math without numbers. But with that guy I took the time to recount my change and gave him back the extra, mostly just because he seemed kind, and who wants to see kids get fired in this economy? But with Knuckles I was less sympathetic, and I don’t know if it was from some projected misogyny, or irritation at her hair-do, or the instinct to distance myself from an imminent anxiety supernova, but if I were her manager I would have somebody stand with her to oversee that shit or I’d put her back in the stock room until she realized that what she really needed to do was finish school and quit dating drug addicts.


Well, sorry, I seem to really get bent over details these days. I am writing a novel sort of just to see if I can do it, and I’m finding that inventing emotional and physical detail like all that above is not nearly as easy as just remembering it.


Last night I was coming in the door at 6:00 p.m. with two sacks of groceries and Jackson was lying on the couch and the first thing he said to me was, “Mom, just so you know, I was hungry so I ate three donuts.”

And I was all, Seriously, son? I mean, I guess it’s cute if you’re becoming the voracious teenage boy who can put away two or three dinners a night, but come on. We’re not there yet, are we? You’re only twelve and where the hell did those donuts come from?


Lastly, here’s a drawing I made for a yoga friend who donated to my Red Cross/Charity Water campaign last fall and guess what? I’m STILL not done with all the drawings I owe people and I’m going to have to start another campaign in a minute and I think I’m just going to do tote bags this year. Anyway, I am really, really pleased with this one and it makes me want to do more yoga-specific figure drawings. Just line drawings of happy people doing crazy things with their bodies, nothing fancy.




12 Responses to “My Weird Little Trip to CVS”

  • So, I had some story I wanted urgently to tell you, but the soulful eyes of the “Hi Sonja” yoga man just completely wiped my brain clear.

    Oh yeah: When the bottle bill was up for vote in Massachusetts, my uncle Bill (a now-retired architect who does this sort of thing) made an elaborate bottle costume and went as ‘the bottle bill’ for Halloween. Then his friend John borrowed the costume and went up and down the streets of Somerville introducing himself as Bottle Bill and asking people to vote for him. Which is why to this day, you can get 5 cents back on your bottle in Massachusetts.

    Hi, I’m writing a novel too.

    John had a mustache.

    (I was feeling self-conscious about my lack of descriptive details).

  • CVS is the gateway to despair. Though probably there are multiple entrances to despair, really, I find CVS pretty much always takes me there. I ought to try getting extra change and free push pins, maybe it would help.

    • This is totally true. I stick with Walgreen’s.

      Great drawing, Mrs. Kennedy. I’d love to see more yoga people if you do more.

  • I had a weird experience with a CVS cashier too. I went in to buy a 12-pack of paper towels and some shampoos or something & took everything up to the counter. The guy rang me up & I swiped my card and took my stuff. It was only once I was driving home that I thought, ‘Wait. Did I just pay like $6 for all that stuff?’ and sure enough, when I looked at the receipt at home, the guy hadn’t even bothered to ring up the paper towels–even though they were sitting there TAKING UP THE WHOLE COUNTER.
    My husband said I should go back and pay for them but I was like, clearly that is too much effort on my part, and even if I did go back, who am I going to try to pay? The cashier who obviously doesn’t give a shit, or some other person who will have no idea what I’m talking about?
    Which leads me to wonder: is the CVS a terrible, soul-crushing place to work, or is it just the type of job that attracts terrible, apathetic people?
    (Also the cashier was talking on his cell phone the whole time I was in the store, and the one bit of conversation I heard was him saying annoyedly, “I can’t go to the party until later, because I have to work.”)

  • I have no idea how terrible a place it is to work, I only know that I feel bad for people who get put in the front of the store without being ready for it.

  • I, too, have this thing about paying so that my change is in perfect bills rather that a handful of coins. Very often I get the “why are you giving me these extra coins?” I explain, and the cashier thinks I’m trying to fool him/her with money magic. Sometimes I think I can see them sweating. It’s not even HARD to count back change these days, what with hi-tech registers. In our day, cashiers had to rely on their god-given math skillz. I fear for this country.

    As for the pre-teen boys and their food-eatin’, let me just say that mine VOLUNTEERED to clean out the fridge and did so willingly. I now realize it was because he got to sample all the inventory, including leftovers and jarred things with expiration dates of over three years ago.

  • “Like math without numbers.” I love this.

  • i am not alone. thank you for this. :) i’ll be 44 very soon and wander through life with a running list of “People I’d Fire!”. i’ve been self-employed for 20 years, so it’s for nothing except my hormones, i think. my hair stylist is on the list now, too, thanks to a shittastic cut last month; if you could do another grow-out series, peace would return.

  • It could be worse. You could’ve gone home an designed a little easily printable pdf booklet on Making Change For The Utterly Motivated, then brought it back and gone full didactic on her.

    (If you want my pdf, let me know.)

  • Do you remember the Seinfeld where they were going to take their bottles and cans to Michigan for the cash? When I was a kid, in a non-desposit state, I was obsessed with doing that and making, what I felt, was zillions of dollars.

  • Urm. Yeah. I’m a little late to this but I have to allow an extra 20 minutes when I visit SlowVS. It’s an experience every single time.