Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

June 2006

Cashing Out

Business people believe in exceeding customers’ expectations.

Don’t we?

A couple of years ago I went into a liquor store (neither for the first nor the last time, but that’s not the extra point). I purchased a reasonably large and expensive bottle of Scotch tendering two twenty-dollar bills in payment. The man behind the counter looked up sharply and then reached under the counter. Honest to Pete, I thought he was going for a weapon or ringing an alarm or something; the guy was absolutely scaring me. What he came up with was a marking pen, like a Sharpie, and swooshed it across my twenties.

Then he rang up my purchase, made change, and bagged my Scotch.

“What was that all about?” I asked.

“Counterfeits,” he said. “People are passing counterfeit twenties.”

“And?”

“What? This pen catches counterfeits.”

As I picked up my change and bag of booze, I said as I left, “How do you know the pen’s not a counterfeit?”

That got the same sharp look plus a pursing of the lips. The man had a real knack for enhancing a shopping experience. As I pulled away from the parking spot, he was looking (probably sharply) out his window and it appeared he was writing down my vehicle license. Maybe not, but, like I said, it appeared that way to me.

I’m a little chatty. I like understanding why working people do stuff they do. No crime against that, for sure.

So not long ago, I’m out of Scotch and I go back to this same liquor store. Pretty much the same lead-up, big Scotch, on sale, just under forty bucks. I plunk down two twenties. The guy (same guy; didn’t act like he remembered me) grabs the money, makes change, bags the booze, and then looks at me, uh, softly. I’d say softly, definitely not sharply. So, naturally, I say, “Aren’t you afraid my twenties were hot off the Xerox?”

“What?”

“Don’t you swoosh twenties with your magic pen anymore?

“Nah, nah,” he says “people are bleaching fives and then photocopying hundreds on them. The paper’s good so the pen doesn’t work. I don’t take hundreds.”

For whatever it’s worth, I said no more, left quietly, didn’t see him checking my auto tags, but I decided to use a credit card if I need another bottle of Scotch.