Tuesday, November 20, 2012



Earlier this fall, Friday September 14th, I was involved in a series of incidents so preposterous that someone had to tell the story.  The chances of this occurrence were so rare; I decided to consult my nephew, who just passed his actuary exam, if he could put forth a possible number on the chances of this happening or ever happening again.  Pay close attention to the timeline.  All this occurs between the hours of 3:30 and 6:00pm on Friday September 14th, 2012.  I begin.

3:30pm- I drive my older son to Greenfield to work on the float for Saratoga High School’s Homecoming Parade.  I linger for a few minutes to make sure I have the right address and head back to Saratoga via route 9N.
4:05pm – I pull into the new downtown Price Chopper ( local grocery store chain)  to purchase items for a potluck dinner to be held at my friend Denise’s home that evening.  It is a dinner to bring closure to our week at Camp Wakpaminee with the Lake Avenue Elementary School fifth graders.

Downtown Saratoga Price Chopper logo
4:06 – I realize upon entering Price Chopper that I do not have my wallet.  It is still with my suitcase that I took with me as a chaperone for Camp Wakpaminee.  I pause between the check-out registers and the customer service counter wondering, “Do I tell them now and see what happens or do I do my shopping and then deal with it.”  Apparently going home to retrieve my wallet is not an option I consider.   I decide to approach customer service and tell them.  I ask if I can shop and then have my husband give our charge card number over the phone (after all, I am a card carrying Price Chopper shopper).  This suggestion does not fly and they counter with the idea that I may shop, they will store the groceries in the fridge and then my husband or I may come by to pay for them and pick them up. Fine.  I decide that my husband will come by later and I commence to shop with confidence.

4:35 – I go to the clerk at check-out #3 who takes my groceries and stores them in the walk-in fridge.  I head home to prepare for the evening.

5:00 – While at home, my husband Johnny and I are on his cell on speaker with my brother, while Lake Ave. mom, Gabe calls on our land line asking what to bring to the potluck.  While I am on the phone with her, another Lake Avenue mom Erin calls to say that she is at South Side Rec picking up t-shirts for her son’s team ( that she coaches) and should she pick up the t-shirts that are for her older son’s team that my husband coaches.  We say, “Great.”  I hang up with her, go back to Gabe and secure the purchases for the potluck with Gabe.

 5:15 – Lake Ave. moms Carol and Denise arrive together at the downtown Price Chopper to shop for this evening’s pot luck at Denise’s home.  Both Carol and Denise’s children were on the Camp Wakpaminee 5th grade trip.

5:20 – Erin (Lake Avenue mom of a 5th grader on the Camp Wakpaminee trip) arrives at Price Shopper to pick up a few things after leaving the South Side Rec center.

5:25 – Erin approaches Denise, near the meat counter, and tells her that she as forgotten her wallet and could she spot her a few bucks to cover her groceries.  Denise responds, “I have forgotten my wallet as well and I think you should check with Carol.”  Carol assure them it is no problem, she’s got it covered.

5: 30 – Erin, Denise and Carol shop with confidence and dignity.

5:45 – Erin, Denise and Carol start to check-out together at check-out #3 and discover that Carol ( who 15 minutes ago agreed to finance everyone’s shopping) also does not have a wallet.  Price Chopper employee William in check-out three handles this turn of events calmly thereby maintaining the shopper’s dignity but not their confidence.

Forgotten wallet.
.. 5:47 – Carol takes control and offers to drive home, retrieve her wallet and return to pay for everyone’s groceries.  Carol departs.

5:50 – Erin suddenly remembers that she has a child to pick-up NOW and cannot wait for Carol’s return.  Erin returns all her groceries to the shelves and leaves the store not telling Denise.

5: 55 –Generous Carol returns to pay for everyone’s groceries only to discover that Erin has left without a word.  Denise and Carol decide that Erin left for a good reason and check out with clerk William at check-out #3.  He  proves to be unflappable.

Actual aisle three in Saratoga Price Chopper
6 :00 – Carol and Denise  exit the downtown Price Chopper as my husband Johnny drives up to the same Price Chopper.  Denise’s eldest daughter runs up to Johnny and greets him warmly.  Denise and Carol follow and explain to Johnny the antics of the last forty-five minutes.

6:05 – Johnny enters Price Chopper, coincidentally goes to check-out lane #3 and inquires about the groceries.  Will enthusiastically and politely responds, “Oh you’re the husband,” and goes into the walk –in fridge and retrieves the groceries.

6: 10 - Johnny exits Price Chopper, picks up elder son and heads on home to pick-up younger son and I for pot luck dinner.

6:35 – Johnny in much shock from the Carol/Erin/Denise story (and our part in it) drives in silence to the pot luck keeping the wallet story to himself.

6:45 – We arrive at Denise’s home and it looks to me like little has been done for the party and then all becomes clear when they explain the goings on between 5: 15 and 6pm at the downtown Price Chopper.

6: 50 – I point out to my husband that I could have been involved in that complicated fiasco as opposed to my simpler scenario.  I’m feeling superior.  My husband merely shakes his head.  Do I attract friends similar to myself?

AFTERMATH – In the following hours and days, more and more information came out that related to the incident. 
That evening at the potluck, it is revealed that Erin had also had contact with another dinner guest regarding soccer t-shirts before the shopping fiasco. I discover the following morning at soccer, that Denise’s wallet is still at large as is her license and cash.    My conversation at soccer also reveals that between Erin, Denise and Carol at Price Chopper, they had a check, a price chopper card and one ID but no person had any two.  Together they were one person.  Price Chopper did not see it that way.

Four days later I stop by Price Chopper on the up chance that the same customer service people and check-out person are in and I can get their reaction.  I’m in luck, the customer service person looks familiar and I ask her if she recalls last Friday when everyone had forgotten their wallet?  I also mention my blog and wonder if I could ask a few questions.  She is starting to smile and pages a manager to see if it is okay to respond to an interview for a blog.  The manager comes over and when I explain that all four women knew each other well, she laughs and says ,”That’s no problem.”
I ask, “On the average, how many incidents of wallet forgetting do you usually have a week at the downtown Price Chopper.”
She answers quickly, “Not even one.”  We decide that it is only about two to a month, if that.
I follow up with, “So four in one day is unusual?”  The manager assures me that she had never seen that before
I propose a theory, “Did it ever occur to you that we were some crime ring, trying to pull something off.”  This line of questioning gets a blank stare and a simple, “No.”
Finally, “What did the clerk in check-out three think?  I mean wasn’t he rather amazed that four people in two hours in his check-out all forgot their wallet?”
Without hesitation, the manager and customer service rep reply almost in unison, “ Oh William has excellent customer service and wouldn’t say anything to the customers.”  Kudos to Price Chopper training.  I certainly could not have maintained my composure or controlled my comments in the presence of such shenanigans.

Ten days later, I emerge from MINE nightclub after Salsa dancing, and spot William, check-out clerk number three, waiting outside to get in.  I approach him perhaps a little too quickly and remind him of “that day.”  He recalls it with a smile and chuckles at the idea that all the women had known each other so well.   He comments that he had never seen that happen before.  I (the blogger)get that a lot.  People have said to me, “I’ve never heard that before” or a doctor has commented on more than one occasion, “No one has ever asked that question before. “  I am always happy to be a part of a first.

As to the chances of this happening, well, my nephew has come up with an answer.  In addition to working with some outrageous facts, he also had some solid information such as population, number of grocery stores in the area, etc. to work with.  His two page calculations concluded that there would be a 33 in a ten billionth chance of this happening or .00000000033!!

Diane Lachtrupp Martinez

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