February 10, 2006

Last week, as the woman behind the cash register at Duane Reade was ringing up my battery purchase, I said what I always say at the drugstore, which is, “Don’t worry, I don’t need a receipt.” What I generally mean by this is, “If you hand me a piece of paper I will crumple it up and put it in my pocket and forget about it utterly until three months from now, at which point I will notice it and wonder whether I need it for my taxes but I won’t be able to tell because the ink will have faded to illegibility by then and I’ll spend days worrying that I’ll be thrown in jail for tax evasion and so really I’d prefer that you just recycle the receipt or throw it away yourself.” The instance in the Duane Reade was no exception.

The woman behind the counter appeared not to have heard me, however, because when she handed me my batteries the receipt was right there in her hand.

“Oh, that’s okay,” I said, with slightly more volume. “I don’t need the receipt.”

She looked at me blankly for a moment. “Well, I don’t really need it either,” she said.

I grabbed the batteries and receipt and stalked out of the store.

At the time her insolence enraged me but thinking about it now I find it pretty funny.

Now I just need to figure out what this crumpled-up piece of paper in my pocket is.

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23 Responses to Last week, as the woman behind the cash register at Duane Reade

  1. David says:

    Duane Reade once touched me inappropriately.

  2. Adam875 says:

    Funny… I am completely anal about my finances, and keep all my receipts until I can enter them into Quicken. I know, don’t start. Anyway, every Duane Reade cashier I have ever encountered anywhere insists on ignoring my outstretched hand and puts the receipt in the bag, rather than handing it to me so I can put it in my wallet. I can hold my hand out directly over the bag and they will go around it to put the receipt inside. So how you got one to actually give you a receipt is a shocking mystery. As is why you don’t just put them in the bag yourself, to be thrown away with the bag, instead of in your pocket where you know they’ll make you nervous.

  3. birdfarm says:

    Heh, I never want the receipt either. But because I’ve had different versions of this interaction many, many times, I just accept the damn thing when they hand it to me. Yes, I’m so passive that I prefer to take on a piece of paper that will unnecessarily burden and complicate my life, rather than having an uncomfortable few moments with a stranger. The moment of the receipt is always uncomfortably full of self-recrimination.

    Yeah, I know, that’s crazy. This is one reason I’m friends with Joel.

    Also, did you know that waaaay downtown there is an intersection between a Duane Street and a Reade Street? When I first stumbled upon that, I felt like I was uncovering some ancient mystery. Just like when I was in Istanbul and I happened to come upon the wall of the ancient coliseum (which is so unimportant compared to everything else ancient in Istanbul that it isn’t even marked or signposted, so I had to figure it out from the “map of Constantinople” in the guidebook).

    Did I mention, I’m a little crazy? Yee-haw.

  4. Hanuman says:

    What’s Duane Reade? Like a CVS?

  5. birdfarm says:

    Hanuman (great name!) – yes.

  6. Adam875 says:

    Yes, it’s a local NYC drug store chain that has spread like McStarbucks in the city. I’ve never seen it anywhere else, but here they literally seem to be every couple of blocks. The first store was at the intersections of Duane and Reade Streets.

  7. Becky says:

    Tonight, the cashier at Walgreen’s REACHED OVER AND SLAPPED MY HAND and hit “cancel” on the debit card scanner because I was going faster than she was. All it does is wait until she’s finished, but apparently, she has her own way of doing things and I violated it.

    Which doesn’t have much to do with your story, but I felt like sharing.

  8. Ruby says:

    I’ve had that done to me too. I don’t want it and they don’t want it either. SO, I leave it on the counter and leave.

    Mean, I know.

  9. Jeffrey says:

    That crumpled-up piece of paper in your pocket is my phone number. You said you were going to call. Why do I keep believing that line?

  10. Mush says:

    I don’t even try. It’s not worth it. When you want the receipt, they won’t give it to you. When you want it in the bag, they hand it to you with your change. If you want it in your hand, they put it in the bag.

    Shopping’s just a huge hassle.

  11. David says:

    I only keep the receipts if I charge the purchase, in order to match them to the credit card bill or the bank statement. Otherwise I crumple them up and toss them in the garbage cans that are conveniently located at the door of every single Duane Reade in the entire city specifically for that purpose.

    But that’s just the happy-go-lucky kind of guy I am.

  12. Matt says:

    The Duane Reade at the corner of Duane and Reade streets is the original, and how the chain got its name. … Wow.

  13. Bonneykate says:

    I thought Duane Street and Reade Street (in Tribeca) ran parallel. My father told me the original guy named the store for the two streets it was between. Why I care about such trivial matters, I am not suite sure.

  14. Jim C. says:

    Insolence? That’s not insolence. If you want insolence, go to Starbucks. đŸ™‚

    Personally, I don’t bother low-paid clerks over trivial things like this. Sometimes if I only have one item, I’ll say, “I don’t need a bag.” At some stores they’ll respond, “I have to give you one.” My response: “Okay”. No argument. Or if they didn’t hear me for some reason and they give me a bag anyway, I just take it.

    I live in Chicago. I’m not an angel, a doormat, or a 6′ football player, but I’ve encountered very few truly insolent clerks in my whole life. More often in a minor dispute it turns out the mistake is really mine, and I then apologize profusely.

    I think David’s advice about the unwanted receipts is the best: “crumple them up and toss them in the garbage cans that are conveniently located at the door”.

  15. Pat Reynolds says:

    Ugh, reading your post makes me LIVID.

  16. birdfarm says:

    It’s true, as Bonneykate noted, that Duane and Reade run parallel for much of their length. But at Duane’s east end, it turns south and meets Reade–actually cuts it off–Duane continues and Reade does not.

    If you don’t believe me, google “duane street and reade street, new york, NY.”

    Surely this is no big surprise for an area of town where one can find the intersection of West 4th Street and West 12th Street (okay, that’s not as far downtown, but I always thought it was very weird).

    Anyway, Bonneykate, your father is probably right, or at least I have no reason to think he is wrong, since I don’t remember seeing an actual Duane Reade at the corner of Duane & Reade; I was just extrapolating.

  17. joey says:

    hahaha. i love the employees at duane reade. deadpan humor at its best. thanks for making me laugh and nice blog.

  18. mikki says:

    It’s even worse if you don’t want a bag. I always say right when i see them reach for the bags, “oh no thanks I don;t need a bag!” and I smile and hold up my own little shopping bag. (Yes, shut up, I care about the environment. Also I hate having all those bags in my apt.)

    They look at you like you are trying to pull one over on them. Or they look hurt, like you are refusing a gift. Often I have to say it two or three times, as they continue putting things into the bag. More than once I have had to take the bag, then take everything out and hand it back.

    That is all.

  19. NYCKid says:

    Duane street and Reade street are indeed parallel and do not intersect – they intersect with West Broadway, Church St and Broadway, but not with each other. That being said, the first Duane Reade drugstore was somewhere down near, um, Duane and Reade Sts. On Broadway.

    More here:


  20. JumpinJewess says:

    I too have had many, many idiotic run-ins with the malfunctioning robots that work at DR. Check out what I had to say about it:


    Note: Gehennom = Hell

  21. DEE says:

    ahh….those receipts….well, with 7 cats, they do come in handy for SOMETHING…I crumple them up,them in my pocket…..and …at the end of the month? When there are enough receipts to create an INDOOR SNOWBALL fight for the cats?

    Ijust LET THOSE CRUMPLED NUTHIN’S FLY..they cats have a BALL…and when they are finished, I toss the receipts in the garbage..at least..they get SOME usage…

    Crazy…maybe..but..I don’t like to waste anything.lol

    Nice Blog:)

  22. Spencer says:


  23. If you sign up for one of those little super-saver “Duane Reade club cards,” there are two advantages:
    1) When they ask you “Do you have a club card?” you can say yes, and avoid having to listen to some spiel about getting a Duane Reade Club Card.
    2) For every $100 you spend with your club card, you get $5 back – and guess what? The $5 back is printed on your receipt, so your receipt will finally have a purpose – at least, it will have a purpose once every $100. Plus, you can be secure in the knowledge that a huge corporation is tracking all of your drugstore purchases. Good times!

    My biggest problem, though, is the stupid “one line per register” policy. It’s terrible – you can pick the shortest line, but have your wait time extended by absolute eons if you get a stupid cash register person (and that would be most of them, because the wages are so crappy), or else if you get stuck behind an old person paying with change. I’d shop somewhere else, but all the other non-Duane Reade stores seem to have turned into banks.

    THAT is all.


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