September 25, 2013

Trip to grocery store brings dilemma

By SUSAN TOBIAS, Pinch of Time

---- — I was having a pretty good Sunday. Up early, walked the dog, coffee, off to Sunday School and church.

The cooler fall weather reminded me that it was time to change from my white summer purse to my fall purse. I double-checked to make sure I had everything.

After church, I decided to cook brunch when I got home, but I didn’t have bacon or sausages. I headed up Cornelia Street to my favorite grocery store, which shall remain nameless.

The parking lot was packed with more Canadian and out-of-state auto license plates than New York ones, a financial blessing to local businesses, but not great for parking.

I planned on buying only breakfast meat, so I didn’t get a shopping cart. Naturally, I ended up with my arms full of food items. The “shortest line” wasn’t the express one so I moved down a few checkouts.

After piling my groceries on the conveyor, I searched my purse for my red cardholder that contains my debit card, most of my credit cards, store discount cards and my driver’s license. I thought it strange that I didn’t have it, but I did find my checkbook.

The clerk scanned my key-chain store-discount card and said the total of my order was $15.15. I told her I left my debit card and ID at home, but I’d write a check.

“I need to see your driver’s license,” she said.

I explained to her again that I had been shopping there for more than 20 years, had written checks for the nearly 18 years, had a store discount card and had always used my debit card. It must be in the computer system.

“Do you have another form if ID?” she asked.

I pulled out my birth certificate, random cards to other stores and my passport.

“This has my picture on it,” I said, showing her my passport that Homeland Security accepted the last time I flew.

By then a front-end manager came over and probably felt sorry for me, or more likely saw the customers piling up behind me. He took my key-chain store-discount card and said he could clear it through customer service. A short minute later he came back and said, ‘No.’ The computer said I hadn’t written a check there in a long while so I needed my driver’s license.

“Do you have another form of payment?” she asked, to which I said ‘No,’ repeating, calmly, that I left my cash and debit card at home.

“Sorry,” she said. “I can’t do anything else for you.”

Completely frustrated, I started poking around my purse again and noticed my American Express credit card. Charge $15.15 of groceries on American Express? That grated against every financial-responsibility grain of my very being, but I swiped the card and it was accepted. I couldn’t believe that whole fiasco.

When I got home and told Toby that I was missing my cards, he said he saw my white purse on the table and noticed it’s empty. Now I am worried.

I checked the bedroom nightstand, the dining room table, the couch cushions, and finally, the computer room. There it was, my red card case, setting off to the side, where I do not remember placing it, but, at least I found it.

“I hate it when I do things like that; I sure feel like an old fool,” I groaned.

“Don’t worry, honey,” Toby said. “It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last time you do something like that.”

Not what I wanted to hear.

I have to say the clerk wasn’t to blame for my little dilemma. The receipt said, “Check declined” four times. She tried.

If Homeland Security wants somebody investigated, they should send them to my local grocery store to cash a check. They have an iron-clad security program in place. I can vouch for that.

I guess the moral to this story should be don’t be so “fashion conscious,” and keep the white pocketbook until you have time to take inventory of your “stuff.”

One last thought, as always, please be kind to each other. The world needs more kindness.

Susan Tobias lives in Plattsburgh with her husband, Toby. She has been a Press-Republican newsroom employee since 1977. The Tobiases have six children, 18 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. They enjoy traveling to Maine and Colorado, and in her spare time, Susan loves to research local history and genealogy. Reach her by email at