One morning I popped into Rite Aid at their location at Long Beach and Willow to pick up a copy of the daily paper.
If the LA TIMES isn't purchased from a box on the street, retailers charge 4 cents above and beyond the regular price of fifty cents.
I handed the cashier at the counter $5.04 to make the computation simple.
Imagine my surprise when the tall lumbering fellow handed me back $3.50 - yes - my change was a buck short.
Did he miscount the change - I mean - was it an innocent mistake?
Or was the shortfall intentional?
In view of fact he neglected to give me a receipt, I was forced to consider the worst: the employee was skimming cash off the top from unsuspecting customers.
Yes, 'tis the season to take advantage of a shopper's good spirits!
There are other scams going down, too, during the festive season.
On many occasions, I've witnessed a cashier at a liquor convenience store tabulate the purchases without running them through a register and or providing a receipt.
When a shopper asked for a precise tabulation of the purchase, I noticed that when the groceries were re-added, the total generally fluctuated by various sums and always to the buyer's advantage!
Yup, unscrupulous store owners try to overcharge the customer - and claim "innocent mistake" - when caught.
In addition, there appears to be some ongoing dishonesty with regard to products without price tags affixed.
At stores I patronize regularly, I have noticed there is a tendency for part-time staff to overcharge on unmarked items.
It may seem petty to some to quibble over such matters, but personally, I don't like being ripped off.
Besides, it's the principle of the thing.
There's also some sleight of hand going down too, which recently came to my attention, as well.
For instance, in the old days a cashier would count out your change to the penny in your hand.
Today, the coins are dropped quickly into the consumer's hand, leaving it up to the individual to check for accuracy.
I guess it's human nature.
Many customers don't count the change in front of the store employee for fear of inferring they don't trust the cashier or giving off the impression they are cheap.
Each time I made a point of checking my change in recent weeks, I noticed an alarming on-going trend.
When I counted the coins in my sweaty hand, I was usually short-changed anywhere from twenty-five cents to a dollar. Small change?
Not when you consider the fact that coins are palmed throughout the day to dozens of customers. It all adds up, don't you think?
Caution should be extended to public transportation, too; after all, pick-pockets have been known to take advantage of the jostling bumping crowds during the holiday season to slip into pockets unnoticed and steal wallets.
Quick crafty scoundrels are are stealthy and skilled enough to slip a watch right off an unsuspecting traveller's wrist.
Yes, 'tis the season to be wary!
Oh, by the way, Happy Holidays!