The Deli Person’s Mistake

Mallory Ortberg: Mike Dang, I have a WWYD for the Billfold.

Mike Dang: Ooooh, what is it?

Mallory: So on Friday I was leaving work and stopped by a Safeway to pick up some weekend groceries. And I decided to also get dinner to eat in the car so I could start writing as soon as I got back. The dinner I chose was a bag of salad and four chicken wings. So I bought the groceries and went to my car and immediately ate the chicken wings right out of the deli case bag.

They were pretty okay wings. Not much meat, but pretty okay.


ANYHOW. I look at the deli sticker that the woman who apportioned them out had placed on them and realized she missed a decimal point and charged me for four POUNDS of chicken wings—not four chicken wings. So what should have been two dollars was instead ten dollars, but the thought of walking back inside with an empty, torn-open deli bag (that was actually full of bones so not empty at all), and demanding the friendly cashier who had served me give me eight dollars while tacitly admitting I had just INHALED four chicken wings in my car before even looking at a receipt, was more than I could bear. So I left!

Mike: Hmmm! I mean my quick answer is that it really depends on the amount of money, and what that money means to you. Because $8 could be a lot to some people.

Mallory: Eight dollars. And also, because, I think, chicken wings are a “cheap” food, so it hurts more to get overcharged eight dollars for chicken wings than for, say, a very good steak.

I might have been likelier to get the change if it had happened at a restaurant, but to get out of my car and walk back inside with an empty bag felt exhausting and shameful.

Mike: Oh, not at all! Honestly, that’s funny, but the person who made the mistake would have also felt ashamed and embarrassed, so you would have been on an even playing field.

Yesterday, when I was at the grocery store, the cashier overcharged me by $1.60. She rung up tangerines instead of clementines. And I said something.

Mallory: Yeah, had I noticed it at the time, I’d definitely have mentioned it. I should have checked.

Mike: She said she was new and didn’t know all the produce codes yet. So, it’s helpful! Or else the mistake could be made again.

Mallory: That’s true. I also bought a lot of groceries though, so the total price didn’t seem unusually high.

Mike: Do you still have the bag? You know, if you still had the bag, and if I lived in San Francisco, I would go into the store with you and sort it out.

Mallory: Still have a ripped-up deli bag with chicken bones three days after the fact?

Mike: Hahaha.

Mallory: Mike, what kind of hoarder do you take me for?

Mike: That’d be kind of amazing.

Mallory: That is a disgusting question. You are disgusting.


Email me your WWYD experiences to me with “WWYD” in the subject line. See previous installments. Photo: Izik



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