Tuesday, 6 September 2011

219: Lactose Intolerance

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Short setup:

I bought a pint of milk this morning to take to work for my coffee. From the Spar at the train station.

What happened:,

The Spar-lady calls 'next please', and I put the carton of milk on the counter with 60p in my hand...

Me: Just that one, please.

SL: Fifty nine, please.

I hand over the sixty pence.

SL: Oh, I can't take that ten, it's from the Isle of Man.

Me: ...is it?

SL: Yes, you see that side's different.

Me: So it is...

I take back the 10p and get another out of my pocket, checking it first.

Me: That one any good?

SL: Yeah, that's fine. 1p change, thank you very much.

Me: Thanks, bye.

But you know, it almost didn't play out like that...

The Spar-lady calls 'next please', and I put the carton of milk on the counter with 60p in my hand. I know it's 60p because I'm an adult and I can tell what a 50p and a 10p look like, even though I don't analyse every individual coin that passes through my hands.

Me: Just that one, please.

SL: Fifty nine, please.

I hand over the sixty pence. Which I know is sixty pence, remember.

SL: Oh, I can't take that ten, it's from the Isle of Man.

Me: ...is it?

SL: Yes, you see that side's different.

Me: Still ten pence, though, isn't it?

SL: Yes, but it's Isle of Man currency. It's technically not legal tender in mainland UK, only in the Crown Dependency under which it's been issued.

Me: I understand that, but firstly, it's not like I'm trying to spend a foreign £20 note, it's ten fucking pence, and secondly, it's the same size, weight, colour and general appearance of a UK 10p. AND IT SAYS 10p ON IT. In fact, it says quite a lot about you that you so stringently examine each coin you're handed. If you applied the same diligence to monitoring the sell-by dates on your fresh produce, I think this particular franchise would have a better reputation.

SL: It's from the Isle of Man.

Me: Yeah, I don't think you've understood. It's SO close in its mechanical aspects to a UK 10p, that you could undoubtedly slip it in with the other coinage and it'd probably go undetected from this point onwards.

SL: It's from the Isle of Man.

Me: Ffs, you should be grateful that I'm offering to pay with the exact money at all. Most of the people in here every morning are only buying low-value items in order to get change for their notes. I'm not one of those bastards, I've GOT CHANGE. You should be ushering me to the front of the queue ahead of the others, eager to serve me first to bolster your till-float, and to process a quick transaction that doesn't involve me avoiding eye contact when handing you an unreasonably high-denomonation banknote, and you sighing and counting out my change with a grimace.

SL: It's from the Isle of Man.

Me: SO'S NORMAN WISDOM! Well, he lived there anyway, for tax purposes. By refusing this coin, you're essentially renouncing the works of one of our nation's best loved comedians, and urinating into his still-warm grave. And Rick Wakeman from off of the pop group Yes and Watchdog. They were next-door neighbours, you know. I wrote a movie treatment about it once.

SL: ...it's from the Isle of Man.

Me: Fiscal racism, that's what it is. This coin is identical in every aspect apart from its superficial appearance, INCLUDING the value which has been ascribed to it, to its UK counterpart. You are discriminating against the coin, purely because of how it looks to you, despite its ACTUAL value being the same in EVERY SENSE. In fact, I don't think I want to give you this coin. You're not open-minded enough to deserve it.

SL: It's from the Isle of man.

Me: Do you examine the change you give OUT in the same fashion? I can't imagine so. If all members of staff are qualified metallurgists like yourself, then I don't suppose there'd be any need. And yet somehow I suspect that's not the case...

SL: It's. From. The. Isle. Of. Man.

Me: Right, here's what's going to happen. Against my better judgement (and because there's now a substantial queue), I'm going to take that Isle of Man 10p and give you a nice wholesome UK one in its place, which is what a financial xenophobe like you wants. THEN later on I'm going to try it in the vending machine at work. If the finely tuned piece of precision engineering accepts the coin, despite it having been manufactured specifically to test the validity of the payment it receives, with its cold clinical emotionless and non prejudiced analysis, then you will be less good than a robot. I'm going to prove that YOU ARE MORE CLOSED-MINDED THAN A ROBOT. And I shall take you, and quite possibly your employer, to task in my Online Journal, whereby my digitally literate acquantaintances shall learn all about your inability to adapt to our multicultural 21st century society.

SL: Okay, 1) I think everyone's stopped reading by now, and 2) It's from the Isle of Man.

Me: ...look, there's 10p, give me that one back. I've got to go to work.

SL: k.thx.bye

As I said, that second part didn't happen. The first part did. But for a moment, it could have gone either way.
So, I went to work, and what would you know, the vending machine accepted my foreign, illegal tender.

...FUCK. I've broken the law, haven't I?

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.


  1. I would have been fucked off from the start when she said fifty-nine please, instead of fifty-nine pence please.

  2. Well, she said 'please', so that's a start :p