Printed with permission. © Alan H. Hess, 1998. All rights reserved.
Customer: Hi. How much is your paint?
Clerk: Well, sir, that all depends on quite a lot of things.
Customer: Can you give me a guess? Is there an average price?
Clerk: Our lowest price is $12 a gallon, and we have 60 differentprices up to $200 a gallon.
Customer: What's the difference in the paint?
Clerk: Oh, there isn't any difference; it's all the same paint.
Customer: Well, then I'd like some of that $12 paint.
Clerk: When do you intend to use the paint?
Customer: I want to paint tomorrow. It's my day off.
Clerk: Sir, the paint for tomorrow is the $200 paint.
Customer: When would I have to paint to get the $12 paint?
Clerk: You would have to start very late at night in about 3weeks. But you will have to agree to start painting before Friday of thatweek and continue painting until at least Sunday.
Customer: You've got to be *...%^#@* kidding!
Clerk: I'll check and see if we have any paint available.
Customer: You have shelves FULL of paint! I can see it!
Clerk: But it doesn't mean that we have paint available. We sellonly a certain number of gallons on any given weekend. Oh, and by theway, the price per gallon just went to $16. We don't have any more $12paint.
Customer: The price went up as we were talking?
Clerk: Yes, sir. We change the prices and rules hundreds oftimes a day, and since you haven't actually walked out of the store with yourpaint yet, we just decided to change. I suggest you purchase your paint assoon as possible. How many gallons do you want?
Customer: Well, maybe five gallons. Make that six, so I'll haveenough.
Clerk: Oh no, sir, you can't do that. If you buy paint and don'tuse it, there are penalties and possible confiscation of the paint youalready have.
Clerk: We can sell enough paint to do your kitchen, bathroom,hall and north bedroom, but if you stop painting before you do thebedroom, you will lose your remaining gallons of paint.
Customer: What does it matter whether I use all the paint? IAlready paid you for it!
Clerk: We make plans based upon the idea thatall our paint is used, every drop. If you don't, it causes us all sorts ofproblems.
Customer: This is crazy!! I suppose something terrible happensif I don't keep painting until after Saturday night!
Clerk: Oh yes! Every gallonyou bought automatically becomes the $200 paint.
Customer: But what are all these "Paint on sale from $10 alitre" signs?
Clerk: Well that's for our budget paint. It only comes in half-gallons. One $5 half-gallon will do half a room. The second half-gallon tocomplete the room is $20. None of the cans have labels,some are empty and there are norefunds, even on the empty cans.
Customer: I can't believe this! I'll buy what I need somewhereelse!
Clerk: I don't think so, sir. You may be able to buy paint forYour bathroom and bedrooms, and your kitchen and dining room fromsomeone else, but you won't be able to paint your connecting hall and stairwayfrom anyone but us. And I should point out, sir, that if you paint in onlyone direction, it will be $300 a gallon.
Customer: I thought your most expensive paint was $200!
Clerk: That's if you paint around the room to the point at whichYou started. A hallway is different.
Customer: And if I buy $200 paint for the hall, but only paintin one direction, you'll confiscate the remaining paint.
Clerk: No, we'll charge you an extra use fee plus the differenceon your next gallon of paint. But I believe you're getting it now, sir.
Customer: You're insane!
Clerk: Thanks for painting with United.
Donald G. Jones