Nobody gives a straight answer anymore.

I was at the local chain drugstore shopping for allergy nostrums and having trouble finding the prices.

I’d pieced together enough information to know that the store brand was cheaper than the national brand. But did I want 10, 15, 30, 33-percent more-for-the-same-price 40, or 90 pills? I could only find the shelf stickers for the 10- and 30-pill boxes.

A clerk wandered by. “Pardon me,” I said, “Can you tell me the price of this box with 40 pills?”

The clerk folded his arms. “Why do you ask?”

No reason to answer a question when you can deviate.

But I persist: “The box says 33 percent more for the same price. Is that the same as the 30-pill box — $9.99?”

The clerk glanced. “We’re out of 30-count.”

They weren’t, but I had more pressing issues. “Do you know how much the 40-count box cost?”

He looked toward the ceiling. “No?”

I took the 40-count box to the check-out. The young woman scanned the box and said it cost $9.99. I got a second box. The ticket indicated I’d bought two 30-count boxes.

I didn’t tell her she was out of that size.

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Piney Woods Pete

Piney Woods Pete

Hard-charging salesman by day, Piney Woods Pete stays up late into the foggy night to render words.