Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The wicky wacky wonderful world of receipts

I like my newsagent. He is one of the few people who only gives you a receipt if you ask for it. Same with my local bookseller, who knows me well enough to know that a) I never return books and b) in the odd event that I will ever have to, he trusts me and knows what he has sold me.

Otherwise we live in a world of receiptitis. Buy anything, and you'll get a receipt, another bit of paper to clog your wallet and, when you sort through the thing because it no longer closes due to receipts, you get a handful of useless paper to add to the recycling.

There are things for which I like to get receipts: items I can offset against my business such as petrol and postage and parking. Gifts, particularly clothing, in case they need to be returned for wrong fit or faulty construction.Valuable stuff where I may need the receipt for insurance (oh, THAT's rare!).

However, if I nip into the fruit shop to buy two grapefruit and a bunch of broccoli, I don't need a receipt. I have chosen my fruit carefully, checked it is fresh, and don't intend to return it.

The checkout girl at the fruit shop was bemused the first time I said, "I don't need a receipt."

Her hand poised over the button, her face contorted and confused. She was very young; obviously for her it was an after-school job. "But we have to give receipts," she stated finally with a relieved expression, pushing the button that churned out a receipt.

And that's the way of it. You have to receive receipts in this computerised age. I've been to other newsagents where I am solemnly presented with a receipt if I buy only a newspaper. How I miss the days of grabbing a paper, dropping the money on the counter with a 'Thanks!' and bolting to catch a train or whatever, queue jumping as every other person with the correct change for a paper did. Going further back, until the 1980s our local paper shop had an honesty box for weekend newspaper sales when the shop wasn't open - you took your paper and dropped the correct change through a slot in the door. I don't believe it was abused very often.

Today I cleaned out my wallet and chucked out eight receipts from the fruit shop as well as a few sundry other receipts for stuff I can't claim or don't intend returning. Then there was the petrol and postage stuff... Gosh - it closes without a problem now!

I have found one good use for useless receipts, though. My girl cat loves playing with them when I roll them into a ball and throw them on the floor. She bats them about for ages. Finally someone, including the dog, will tread on them and render them useless for play. But just think. I have a cat toy my cat loves. And I didn't have to buy it. Or get a receipt for it!

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