Skimming from the Man

This is a true story. All my stories are true. Someone I know owns a coffee shop. I went into the shop one day for a simple cup of coffee. The cashier rang up a no sale, made change from the drawer, and then, much to my surprise and amazement, immediately dropped a penny in a glass that was set behind the counter.

This is a sure indication that the cashier was “counting” how many coffee sales were being skimmed from the cash register (the store’s sales accounting system.) I was so sure this was the case that I went directly to the owner’s house and knocked on the door. I knew he was home. There was no answer. I rang the bell and knocked louder. Finally, he opened the door, looking slightly peeved.

“Shhhh, I’m trying to get the kids to sleep for their nap!”

I apologized and said this was important. I described what had happened at the coffee shop, very proud of myself that I had done my good deed for the day and then some. Maybe he’d be so grateful that he’d give me a $50 gift card!!!

“I know about that, “ he said.


“I know about that, “ he said, again. “We have a system.”

“You have a “system???”

“Yes, we have a system.”

“OK,” I replied, “sorry I bothered you.”

Yes, the store has a system. They have institutionalized the process of skimming from the cash register. This, of course, to avoid sales and income taxes. Skimming sales to cheat the tax man is a time-honored tradition in any cash business. However, what my idiot friend doesn’t realize, or perhaps doesn’t care about, is that his “system” allows the workers to also steal directly from HIM, too. Dumb, dumb, dumb. There are much better and more effective ways to maintain control over the employees AND skim cash from the tax man. Perhaps I’ll save that lesson for another day.

So now, what should I do about this development? Should I report him? (He’s much more of an acquaintance than a friend.) Perhaps, but the State of Maine has almost no resources to pursue this issue. It doesn’t make any economic sense to spend $5,000 in time and man hours building a case to collect that or less. It could be more, but that’s a gamble. The IRS considers this much too trivial to care about it. And also, what do I really know? Sure, I have an admission from the owner that they have a “system,” but that’s not exceedingly definitive.

No, I just went away, quietly. That doesn’t happen very often.

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This entry was posted on June 27, 2011 and is filed under Retail Operations. Written by: . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.