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Playing the Quarters Game

September 23, 2006 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

For many years now, Karen and I have been able to purchase rolls of quarters at our nearest Circle K convenience store. We primarily need quarters for doing laundry. Our ability to obtain quarters is essential, since the washers and dryers do not accept any other form of payment. Imagine my surprise this afternoon when my request was denied.

As I usually do, I went up to the counter and asked to purchase a $10 roll of quarters. The young man at the counter told me the rules have been changed. Now, each customer may obtain a maximum of $2 worth of quarters each day. Apparently, according to this employee, banks charge extra for these rolls and the store was losing money selling them to customers. I asked him if, due to the fact that I am blind and it is difficult for me to find another possible source (especially due to all the construction work in the area), he could possibly consider making an exception in my case or having the manager come to the counter to make a decision. Unfortunately, the manager “had to go home early” and there was to be no empathy for my situation. So, logic would dictate I had two choices; right? I could just take the $2 and go home, or take the $2 and go somewhere else, hoping I could find more quarters. After all, $2 is insufficient to do two loads of laundry when it costs $1 for a wash and another $1 for drying. I wasn’t about to let this guy off easy, especially after the total lack of caring for my situation he had just demonstrated. So, creatively, much to the annoyance of the clerk and the line of customers behind me, I decided to make a third choice.

The rules were that I could have only $2 in quarters. So, after making the purchase, I gave the customer next in line another $2 and asked him to hand it to the clerk for another $2 worth of quarters. After doing this same deal another three times, I finally had the $10 I required. So much for Circle K being “the best and most convenient place to shop”. Though following the rules and getting what I needed, I managed to slow down both the clerk and all the other customers in the process. In fact, one of the people in line behind me had the nerve to whine about this, complaining that I was slowing everyone else down. Do I feel at all sorry about doing this? No! Not a bit. The clerk didn’t show an ounce of empathy toward me, wouldn’t put me in touch with someone else who might be able to make a more favorable decision and, in general, just acted like a jerk about this whole situation. Do I feel at all sorry for the other customers in the line? Heck, no! They’re all driving away from that store to live out their easy lives as people without disabilities, while I walked home for more than half an hour, part of that time being out in the street, through some potentially dangerous construction work!

It really is too bad the battery in my iRiver had gotten low enough so it would no longer record. That would have been excellent material for another podcast!

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6 opinions on “Playing the Quarters Game

  1. This is incredibly stupid. I can’t believe he wouldn’t do anything about it. I’d definitely go back if it’s possible and talk to a manager. I would really hope that common sense would prevail in this case. Good luck with whatever you decide!

  2. Hey Nickie. In this case, it probably isn’t worth worrying about going back to speak with the manager. The next time I am in that store on other business, I will certainly make an attempt for sure. This is an excellent example of ridiculous implementation of policy though. Oh, well, one way or another, I usually do manage to get what I need. Hope this story helps others who might find themselves in similar circumstances. Some employees will make a change, especially when they see how ridiculous the alternatives will be, while others won’t even make an attempt to think outside the box. I think this trend is getting worse.

  3. Darrell, while I totally agree that the clerk’s behavior was completely out of line and insensitive, I also think that you are out of line with your assessment of why you didn’t feel sorry for inconveniencing the other customers waiting in line. Okay, I know that the rest of them got to drive away while you had to walk through dangerous construction, but was that their fault? Did they all gang up on you and poke your eyes out rendering you blind? No they didn’t. You are usually so right on the money with your opinions that it frankly astonishes me that, in this case, you found it perfectly acceptable to inconvenience a group of people who hadn’t done anything to you using the rationale, “My life is harder because I’m blind, so their lives should be harder too.” for someone who is usually such a strong advocate for equal access for blind people, your actions in this case were counter productive to that mission. At least one person who waited in that line left the store with the impression that blind people think it’s okay to inconvenience others just because they are blind. That is a stereotype that you, I, and countless other blind people around the world are fighting to disprove, but in this case, you reinforced it. To be clear,I wholeheartedly support and applaud all of your efforts on behalf of the blind community. I am just saying that, in this one particular instance, your actions, and rationale for said actions, did not represent us in the best light.

  4. Bob,

    I fully understand your point, but, really, this “inconvenience” lasted for probably two or three minutes. I also followed the policies of the store, getting what I needed in the process. I didn’t make those ridiculous policies, the store did that. I just had to follow them. I frankly can’t really see where I went wrong by creatively following the rules set out. Now, if I had held up the works for half an hour, or maybe even 15 or 20 minutes, I could possibly understand your point, but that just was not the case.

  5. Hi Darrell,

    Since I wasn’t there, I obviously didn’t witness what happened first hand. so, all I have to go on is your account of the situation. Again, I agree with you that the store’s new policy is absolutely silly. I further agree with you that the clerk could have been more customer-oriented and handled the situation far better than he did. However, although your actions were in compliance with the store’s new rules, you even said yourself that, “one of the people in line behind me had the nerve to whine about this, complaining that I was slowing everyone
    else down.” so, regardless of how you rationalize the situation, that one person, at minimum, was inconvenienced by what you did. I’ll grant you that, if the whole episode only lasted two or three minutes, the person who whined about you slowing everybody else down was over reacting and needs to calm down a bit.

    What I find far more troubling about your story is the rationale you give for not feeling sorry for inconveniencing the other customers, “They’re all driving away from that store to live out their easy lives as people without disabilities, while
    I walked home for more than half an hour, part of that time being out in the street, through some potentially dangerous

    construction work!” Honestly Darrell, this doesn’t even sound like you. It sounds bitter, almost as if you fault these sighted people for your blindness. I do not dispute for one second that your journey back home was far more difficult than theirs, but again, that is not their fault, and certainly not a legitimate reason to feel that it is okay to inconvenience them in some way. Look, I know it is hard to be blind sometimes, (I’ve been totally blind since birth), but our blindness is not anyone else’s fault and we should not feel that we have the entitlement to punish them for it.

  6. Bob,

    Part of the very reason for running this blog and podcast is to share the experiences of real blind people with the world. I’ll admit that, from time to time, I do feel some bitterness. Perhaps, that comes out in my description of this incident. It is true that, in general, I don’t worry too much about inconveniencing others with the special needs of my blindness. I don’t, however, feel that my purpose is to hold others responsible for it in some way. I also don’t go out of my way to inconvenience others or otherwise act in an inappropriate manner. Instead, maybe, it is a bit of a fight back against the treatment I have often received at the hands of those who would just pat me on the head and try to set me aside. Look. Ultimately, the inconvenience caused to the store’s customers was a result of their silly policy rather than my actions. I urgently needed what I needed, and was able to find a way to get it within the confines of the store’s policies. The inconvenience it caused others in the store was totally not my fault. I am still not feeling at all apologetic about this incident. If necessary, I would repeat the same actions again.

    Oh, man, do I wish I would have been able to record and podcast everything that happened!

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