Fiction

The Christmas Offering

“The economic situation, the standard of living and insufficient employment opportunity are most commonly mentioned as reasons to emigrate. Many also mention the political life of the country … Several responses point to the unpleasant attitude and habit of the people as well as the disrupting level of corruption…”
(From the exhibition titled “Outcast Hungary: An Exhibition About Hungary and Migration”, organised by the United Nations International Organisation for Migration – Hungary, May 2-12, 2018, Budapest.)

 

December 24, 2018

„Oh, that’s such a cool toy, is it for your child?”

„Yes, he picked it back in October. The coolest of the series. It’s not simply a remote control car with a miniature drone, it’s more than that.”

„You know what? Let me give you my discount card, it gives you a twenty-percent discount for purchases over twenty thousand forints, and we won’t get to use it this year, anyway.”

„Oh, are you sure? What if you change your mind?”

„It’s not limited to one purchase. It’s a loyalty card.”

„Well, thank you, then! You come here often? We come here all the time.”

„No, we don’t come here much anymore, we’re out of the country.”

„Abroad?”

„Yes, we moved to Bristol.”

„England?”

„Yes.”

„Will you be able to stay?”

„You mean, after Brexit? They haven’t sent us home yet. We’re staying, if there is a way. It makes a difference how much you’re paid for your work. From the little amount they pay here it’s very difficult to get by.”

„I’m sure… So it’s really not a problem?”

„Not at all, just say that we’re together. The card is for personal use.”

„Thank you… Good morning! I’ll take this, please. I’m together with the lady.”

„Good morning! Unfortunately, I won’t be able to accept the discount card. I saw that the two of you have just met.”

„Come on now, it costs you nothing, why can’t I let the lady use my card? Afterwards, I will pay for this figurine without it.”

„The figurine costs 1499 forints, whereas the toy car costs 22,390 forints. With all due respect, the two products are not comparable.”

„What good is the discount card for, then? If I were to put that toy car in front of you, you won’t sell it to me now?”

„You are not the real buyer.”

„You know what…? Excuse me, madam, do you mind if I move forward in the queue? I’m in a bit of a hurry… That’s really kind of you, thank you…! I would like to buy the toy car, please!”

„It doesn’t work like this, would you please understand, madam, that I can’t give you the discount after this.”

„Do you want me to raise an official complaint?”

„Oh, my dear, it doesn’t matter – it’s not worth it. I’d rather just pay. Not that I will come here ever again.”

„But this is a matter of principle, let’s not just leave it at that!”

„I’ll rather pay, it doesn’t matter… Please, it will be cash.”

„We really shouldn’t leave it at that.”

„The change, please. One thousand, two thousand, three thousand, three thousand and five hundred, and a ten. There you are. Happy Holidays!”

„I won’t take the figurine. You can keep it! Happy Holidays!”

„Alright, I’ll put it back on the shelf myself, it’s fine, don’t you bother with that!”

„Perhaps you ought to know that it is because of just this kind of attitude that we decided to leave this country – you just don’t give a damn that your customers have certain rights.”

„Never mind, my dear, it’s really kind of you that you wanted to help. These people just won’t understand.”

„We actually do. The lady just wanted to preserve her benefits as a loyal customer.”

„I’ve had enough of this tone. Here’s to not seeing you ever again!”

„To not seeing you ever again, till next Christmas! Who’s next, please?”

„There will be no next Christmas! Don’t you get it? Are you deaf? If it goes on like this, you can close up shop very soon. Not only the shop, in fact, but the country, too!”

„Madam, if you do not wish to buy anything, please allow the next person in the queue to proceed to the counter.”

„There shall be no next customer if you go on like this!”

„Thank you for the suggestion. We seem to have one now… Can I help you, sir?”

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