12/05/2012 by Stephen Silke
I stood aghast on the pavement laughing. Laughing in that frustrated, angry way, trying to reassure myself that it was not a big enough issue to fret about. I was looking at my receipt for a soda and a notepad from the 99¢ Only Store that I visited in an economically depressed suburb of San Diego. I paid $2.00, exactly.
It wasn’t the amount that made me want to crylaugh, I think. It wasn’t the loss of the extra one and ninety eight-hundredths of a cent that I paid, because it was actually nice not to have to take the two pieces of shrapnel from the cashier and put them in my pocket to bang against my archaic flip-phone. It was the sheer Orwellian hubris of a corporation that flouts all convention the same way the gas stations do, by trading in a sub-denomination of money that is technically impossible to achieve in conventional commerce.
The despicability of it all!
But, believe you me, I abide the corporation. I buy GMO seeds for my garden. I don’t make my own jeans, I buy them in the mall. I filled out my mail-in ballot at the air-conditioned Starbucks when it was 90 degrees outside. Why? Because drinking a corporate cup of joe is just as compulsory as having to vote for Obama because the Republicans ignored Ron Paul.
But I told myself this wasn’t going to get political. Easy to say.
This 99.99 cent thing actually really adds up. In the words of money-grubbing V.I. Lenin, “Everything is connected to everything else.” Millions and millions of these seemingly small, innocent, shrapnel-saving transactions tip the scales of benevolent commerce in favor of half-truths and dishonesty, rewarding the misleading parties. In fact, the data indicates it pays to deceive. That 99/100 of a cent adds up to around 12 million dollars annually for the 99¢ Only Store (store being the operative word).
Just call it the dollar store! Dollar Tree seems to be doing just fine. They can sell their off-flavor candy and sodium-soaked snack goods with completely clear consciences as far as I can tell. To quote Daddy Warbucks when the scheme to extort Annie for cash money failed, “The jig is up.” Did you hear that evil corporation? Give up the jig! The Annie wig is off, it’s 2012, and I’m through talking like a Newsie. Don’t make me demand exact change.