Friday, January 7, 2011

Flash Fiction Fridays


Holding my breath, I counted down from ten in my mind. Ten…nine…eight….

"I didn't even buy this gift. My cousin did, and it doesn't fit, so I need a refund," the lady said as she tossed the small sweater upon the counter.

"Do you have a receipt?" Seven…six…five….

"No, I don't. It was a Christmas gift. She says she paid $25.99 for it." The lady tapped her foot.

There was no way this rather hideous lime green and black sweater was that expensive. I would've known. In fact, I was beginning to wonder if the sweater was even from our store. I searched for a tag, not seeing one. "Where is the price tag? We can't give a refund unless we know it came from this store, ma'am."


"Listen, miss. My cousin said she bought it here. She took the tag off, so I wouldn't know how much it was. I want a refund." She gritted her teeth.

My fingers tapped away at the keyboard as I put in a search for the shirt. Nothing came up matching its description. The woman across from me began to get twitchy. Her eyes darted around, and she was striking her foot quicker and louder like an out of whack metronome. "I'm sorry, ma'am. We cannot give refunds without the price tag or a receipt."

Two…one. I offered the offending object back to her.

"I've been in this damn line for forty-five minutes. You are going to give me a refund." She slapped her hand on the desk. A crazed look got into her eyes, and I knew she would give me trouble.

Then again, this time of the year brought the worst out of people. What happened to working at The Finer Things as a seasonal job? I've been here for twelve years longer than I intended. I could feel the nerve under my eye jerk despite the deep breathing and counting down from ten. Maybe I should've tried one hundred. "I'm sorry, ma'am. There is nothing I can do."

One hundred…ninety-nine….ninety-eight….

"I want to speak to the manager."

I wasn't surprised. They always wanted to speak to the manager, as if it would change anything, which it wouldn't. To top it off, Jill had taken the week off, and lucky me, I was the assistant manager. "She's off this week, but you could speak with the assistant manager."


"Who's that?"

I smiled, even though I shouldn't. If the lady had realized, it was more of a grimace. "I am, and without a receipt or price tag, there is nothing we can do for you."

The lady ground her teeth, snatched up the sweater, and stormed off.

I overheard her mumble the word, "Bitch."

The tick got worse, and I realized I couldn't spend one more second in The Finer Things. I breathed deeply and let it flow slowly from my lips. It worked better than counting down as my resolve strengthened.

It was time.

I took off my name tag and dropped it into Michele's hand. "Tell Jill I quit."


Nicole Zoltack said...

That had to be so rewarding.

Cherie Reich said...

Yeah, I think so too. When I was looking for a job after college and having a hard time finding anything, I was terrified that I'd eventually have to work at a store or food place. *shudders* It's just not for me, and I'm so thankful to have gotten work in libraries. I <3 libraries.

Cats! said...

Great flash! Retail sucks.

Cherie Reich said...

Thanks, Lisa!

Terri Talley Venters said...


As always, I love stopping by on Fridays to read your latest Flash Fiction. And as always, I enjoyed this one too. I only quit one job before in my 39 years (almost 40). It felt liberating. I quit my grueling 70 hour work week as a tax senior mangager in the insane world of public accounting for my marvelous, low stress, part-time day job (making more $$$). Ironically, my first real job out of college motivated me to start writing, because I couldn't take it anymore and needed a change! I feel for your character in this story!


Cherie Reich said...

Thanks for stopping by, Terri!

I would've quit a job where I worked 70 hours a week too! That's a lot! Low stress jobs are good. :)

Unknown said...

I have been there but didn't quite quit. The day we had about 30 people in line and the computers were down was the worst and sticks in my mind forever. We were running around looking at sales signs to put in the price of items for sale in manually. I almost quite that day. I worked retail for almost 14 years. And there was the day my supervisor took a hold of my arms and shook them because she didn't like the way I merchandized the clearance?

Talli Roland said...

Retail does suck. Ugh - I'm breaking out in a cold sweat just thinking about my retail days.

Great piece!

Cherie Reich said...

Aww! Sorry to bring up bad memories of working retail! ;)

I try to be really nice to retail workers. I can imagine it is incredibly hard work.