The cashier was a WalMart supervisor, a black man in his 30s, crisp in the company’s blue tee-shirt uniform. While he served the customer ahead of me, he did double duty by instructing a clerk next to him, a black woman in her 20s.
“You must take your break no later than two hours after starting. Two hours and one minute. . . ,” and he gestured a subdued but firm No.
She got the message and left. My turn came. I said, “And the customer cannot be a penny short. . . ,” repeating his gesture.
He understood but allowed that there was some leeway. I said, “Every minute from the employee, every penny from the customer. It’s all for the Waltons.”
He said, “Somebody’s got to get rich.”
I replied, “No rich, no poor.”
He paused. Then he replied, “That’s even better,” looking at me as though to see whether he had become too open. I’m an older white guy.
“There’s even a book by that name,” I said. He asked a question to double-check the name. I paid, he gave me the change and receipt, and we smiled.
There is much fertile ground.
Charles Andrews’ new book is No Rich, No Poor: Why a Failed Economy Must Give Way to a Program of Common Prosperity. Yes, this incident really happened.