Don’t forget your receipt!

Whenever I’m offered printed reciepts, I always say no thanks, but I might have to reconsider.

I don’t like paper receipts.

First, there’s the obvious. Do I really want to know how much I just spent? Every month when I take my cat Westin to the vet for his shot, ear cleaning, and medication, the sweet receptionist smiles up at me and says, “Would you like an itemized receipt?”

“No!” I shout, before saying I’m sorry, but I have no desire to know what my feline friend is costing me. His medical fees are more than the dozen dogs and 40 cats I’ve taken care of over the years combined, so there’s no point in pouring salt in that wound.

But there are other reasons I eschew paper receipts. According to the Forbes article “The Business Case for Eliminating Paper Receipts,” “In the United States alone, paper receipt production uses an estimated 12.4 million trees, 13.2 billion gallons of water, and emits 4 billion pounds of CO2 each year.”


And there’s more: “Additionally, over 90% of paper receipts are coated with BPA or BPS – known disruptors of the endocrine system. The health implications of this are astounding, with retail employees and workers frequently exposed to paper receipts often carrying higher than 30% more BPA and BPS in their systems than individuals without that level of exposure.”

So, yes, I was feeling rather high and mighty by waving off anyone’s attempt to hand me a receipt.

It was a cucumber in the checkout lane that caused the problem.

Until now.

The other day my sweetie pie asked me to pick up a package of tortillas. As is usually the case when grocery shopping, a few other things made their way into my reusable canvas bag. (There’s a reason my friends and family sometimes refer to me as Eco Annie.) After waiting in line, I parked myself in front of the self-checkout machine. I followed the directions, swiping the barcodes and placing the items properly in the bagging area. Note that I have learned not to argue with the lady’s voice that gets rather strident if one takes too long to follow commands. “Place the item in the bag!”  

Everything was going rather smoothly until I put cucumber on the scanner. With no barcode, I selected the look-up-item button, found a cucumber, and hit the key. But the charge didn’t appear on my list. I tried several times, but my fifty-nine cent cucumber didn’t register.

I stared at the people waiting—it was a busy day—and tried again. And this time, it worked. I stuck my credit card in the slot, was instructed to remove it, but no receipt appeared. I looked around for an attendant, but saw no one. Then I glanced over my shoulder at the shoppers anxiously tapping their feet and staring holes through me.

So, I took my bag from the bagging area, and walked toward the door, behind a blonde, lady police officer. I smiled and thought I would thank her for her service, but as we headed out into the sunlight, she yelled at a woman in the parking lot.

I could have ended up in the slammer, all because of a receipt.

“Excuse me! Do you have a receipt?” She addressed a small woman with an armload of flowers.

The woman squinted. “In my pants pocket.”

I froze, as the officer reached into the woman’s jeans rummaging for proof that she paid for the flowers. My small bag of groceries suddenly felt inordinately heavy. I’d never committed a crime. (Okay, when rock collecting I sometimes ignore those No Trespassing signs, but that’s mostly the limit of my illegal activity.)

I suddenly envisioned all those dopy TV criminals who try desperately to look innocent but fail miserably. I told myself I’d committed no crime. I’d paid for my items, I just didn’t have the proof. I walked ever so casually around the officer, heart beating wildly. Would she believe me if I told her the machine didn’t supply a receipt? If not, would she haul me in for shoplifting?

As it turned out, my acting ability carried me through. Or maybe the cop was just too busy with the flower woman to notice my guilty expression.

I will now rethink my opposition to receipts, if only to avoid doing time in the slammer.

Find Anne Montgomery’s novels wherever you buy books.



2 thoughts on “Don’t forget your receipt!

  1. says:

    That’s funny, a close escape. I always have kept receipts, probably going back to the days when we had to keep a close check on what we had spent. And very OCD, I keep them in a box and check them off with the bank statement – once someone had cloned our card and we soon noticed a few strange outgoings.


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