Customer: Hi, how much is your paint?
Clerk: Well, sir, that all depends.
Customer: Depends on what?
Clerk: Actually, a lot of things.
Customer: How about giving me an average price?
Clerk: Wow, that's too hard a question. The lowest
price is $9 a gallon, and we have 150 different prices up to
$200 a gallon.
Customer: What's the difference in the paint?
Clerk: Oh, there isn't any difference, it's all the
Customer: Well, then, I'd like some of that $9 paint.
Clerk: First I need to ask you a few questions.
When do you intend to use it?
Customer: I want to paint tomorrow, on my day off.
Clerk: Sir, the paint for tomorrow is $200 paint.
Customer: What? when would I have to paint in order to
get $9 paint?
Clerk: That would be in three weeks, but you will also
have to agree to start painting before Friday of that week
and continue painting until at least Sunday
Customer: You've got to be kidding!
Clerk: Sir, we don't kid around here. Of course, I'll
have to check to see if we have any of that paint available
before I can sell it to you.
Customer: What do you mean check to see if you can sell
it to me? You have shelves full of that stuff; I can see it
Clerk: Just because you can see it doesn't mean that we
have it. It may be the same paint, but we sell only a
certain number of gallons on any given weekend. Oh, and by
the way, the price just went up to $12.
Customer: You mean the price went up while we were
Clerk: Yes sir. You see, we change prices and rules
thousands of times a day, and since you haven't actually
walked out of the store with your paint yet, we just decided
to change. Unless you want the same thing to happen again,
I would suggest you get on with your purchase. How many
gallons do you want?
Customer: I don't know exactly. Maybe five gallons.
Maybe I should buy six gallons just to make sure I have
Clerk: Oh, no sir, you can't do that. If you buy the
paint and then don't use it, you will be liable for
penalties and possible confiscation of the paint you already
Clerk: That's right. We can sell you enough paint to
do your kitchen, bathroom, hall and north bedroom, but if
you stop painting before you do the other bedroom, you will
be in violation of our tariffs.
Customer: But what does it matter to you whether I use
all of the paint? I already paid you for it!
Clerk: Sir, there's no point in getting upset; that's
just the way it is. We make plans based upon the idea that
you will use all of the paint, and when you don't, it just
causes us all sorts of problems.
Customer: This is crazy! I suppose something terrible
will happen if I don't keep painting until Sunday night?
Clerk: Yes sir, it will.
Customer: Well, that does it! I am going somewhere else
to buy paint!
Clerk: That won't do you any good, sir. We all have
the same rules. You might as well just buy it here, while
the price is now $13.50.
Thanks for flying -- I mean painting -- with our