I've spent most of the last two days at CAJ's Thrift Shop on registers. Either working the calculator, or handling the items and feeding prices to the person on the calculator or bagging items. Here are some funny experiences:
I had someone pay for a 100 yen item (about AU$1.12) with a 5 000 yen note (about AU$56.21). I gave her 900 yen change! She rightly protested. I did something similar to another young girl who went to complain to her mum who I vaguely know. Her mum came back to me and claimed the rest of her change for her!
On Friday afternoon I spent most of the time bagging. At one point our cashier had to take a short break and I took over for her. The very next customer brought bags and bags of stuff to buy. His purchase alone turned out to be over 17 000 yen (more than AU$150). After my earlier adventures with change I was a little scared that I'd make a mistake that would require us to recalculate the whole thing.
We had a lady buying a Christmas wreath and she questioned us about the key which was attached to it. It looked like a house key. We pulled it out of there and someone in charge looked up the identification number on the item (many things are tagged with PTA numbers so that the prior owners can receive some of the proceeds). It turned out to be owned by missionary colleagues of ours! I bet they've been wondering for a while where that key went.
One couple on Friday bought a variety of things, including a metal table lamp. A couple of customers later I figured out we were working around the lamp sitting on the table in the middle of everything, they'd forgotten to take it with them. It gives you a feel for how crazy this event it that we would miss such a thing!
Well, there is just a sampling. This afternoon at 1pm the mad shopping ended and the clean-up began. I tag-teamed it with David who by that time had more energy than me. I came home and lay down (telling the boys to be quiet every now and then). And he went down to the school to help clean up and turn the "shop" back into the school gym.
It truly is an amazing and very organised affair. A unique part of our experience in Japan. And only possible because of a few extremely dedicated women and a large number of volunteers. Awesome work everyone!