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5:13pm on Sunday, 2nd October, 2005:

Something You Don't See in Britain


I always wind up with a pocket full of coins in America. This is because the prices of things I buy are all advertised normally, but they add sales tax at the till. I can't get out the right money in advance, so I have to give them a larger-denomination bill instead then take the change. The result is that the change builds up until at some point I crack and pay for lunch entirely in quarters, dimes, nickels and those one cent pieces they call "pennies".

I didn't pay sales tax for breakfast this morning. I was supposed to, but I didn't: the cashier waived it because I found a mobile phone over by the fizzy drinks dispenser and I handed it in. He rewarded my good deed by pretending I was a student (students don't have to pay sales tax in the student canteen), therefore saving me about 20 cents and a handful of ironmongery.

It was only a gesture, sure, but not one you'd see often in Britain.

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).