S. Klein on the Square

by Arthur Sharon


I worked part time at Klein’s during the beginning of my senior year in high school, Essex Catholic in North Newark.  It was the fall of 1966 and the minimum wage was $1.25 an hour.

I was assigned to the “upscale” ladies’ shoe department, located in a mezzanine overlooking the first floor.  After several days at work, I was allowed to work at the cash register, a job which only the manager, Mr. Lou Levine, and a full time employee, Ruthie, had the ability or desire to undertake.

One day I had sold a customer a pair of pumps for $7.99  and she gave me a ten dollar bill and a penny to pay for them.  I asked her why she gave me the penny and she replied that she hated pennies and didn’t want one back in change.  I explained to her that now she was going to get two dollars and two cents back, which really confused her.  I walked her through the math and she laughed and said, “I never was good at subtraction.”

One busy Saturday a customer was quite upset with me (for no stated reason) and demanded to see the manager.  I went and got Mr. Levine from the office space behind the store and he walked right up to her and said, “Get out of my store.  This kid is the best worker I’ve ever had and we don’t want your business.  Go to Bambergers.”

She said she would contact the owner and he replied, “The owner is my brother-in-law, now get out of my store.”

Sometimes the customer isn’t right, I guess.  A good memory and a good and supportive boss.  Long time ago.


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