I went to Banana Republic to exchange a pair of boots for a different size and to return the oft-discussed wool pants that I've been meaning to return for over a month. I go and I try on replacement boots in a size 7 1/2 and all seems right with the world. I go up to the counter and ask whether I can do an even exchange-- and am told that I can. With one hiccup. My original boots (bought online and sent to New Jersey) were sans sales tax. This completely stymied the employee. He tells me, it's an even exchange, but you'll owe $14.74 in sales tax." But I say, "it's an even exchange". He agrees, but then he follows this picurean logic by saying, that I'm "buying" the new boots in New York, so there's sales tax. It's a "state thing" and "there's nothing" that he can do about it. But "I'm not 'buying' the boots, I'm exchanging them!" I say. Then I ask to speak to a manager and I get the famous-- "he'll tell you the same thing." But wait. If I'm doing an exchange, this Banana still has a pair of boots to sell-- New York will still make its sales tax. If they charge me sales tax and then some other poor lug tax on the pair of boots I'm exchanging NY has now made $30 dollars off this whole thing. So, eventually I gave up. He didn't quite get it and tries to give me back the boots I was going to exchange. I remind him that they don't fit and I want my money back! Finally I just ordered a new pair on the web. Geesh.
My second lunchtime adventure happened at McDonald's. I know, I shouldn't be going to McDonald's anyway, especially since there's always one McNugget in the bunch that's shaped like a boot. But, to McDonald's I went and I asked for their hot mustard sauce for my McNuggets. I knew in advance this might be problematic because on more than one occasion in the past I have only ended up with actual mustard, rather than mustard sauce. What do I get this time? A packet of mustard and a tube of "mild picante" sauce. Who even knew McDonald's carries picante sauce!?! Is this given to those rare brave souls who actually buy a breakfast burrito? Needless to say I went back to the counter and asked to "exchange" my sauce for sweet and sour. Luckily they didn't try and charge me sales tax.