This is an archived article that was published on in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Here's what was printed on the top of my most recent 7-Eleven receipt: "CONGRATULATIONS!!! YOU HAVE COMPLETED A GREAT TRANSACTION!"

That's a direct quote, folks. I didn't hit the "caps lock" button on my computer I didn't add all those exclamation points even though (as my editor will tell you) I! never! met! an! exclamation! point! I! didn't! want! to! marry!

Anyway. I read that sentence printed on my 7-Eleven receipt and went seriously? I just completed a great transaction?

Um. What exactly did I do to make it so great, not to mention awesome? Did I perform a handspring double front half-out vault while swiping my debit card? And stick the landing afterward? Did my fellow customers wave big American flags and erupt into applause while chanting "USA! USA!" Did the judges all give me 10s? Except for that one judge who always hates on Americans?

(Memo to the one judge: Dude! The Cold War is over. Why do you always gotta be hating on Americans?)

At the very best I would say I had completed an "adequate" transaction. Here's how it went down. I walked into the 7-Eleven and picked up a 12-pack of Dr. Pepper. I schlepped the 12-pack over to the counter. I watched as the clerk rang me up. I glanced over my shoulder at the doughnut case and wondered briefly if I should buy a Bismarck but decided against it because that would involve more walking. I swiped my debit card. I hit the "no" button when asked if I wanted cash back. I took my receipt from the cashier.

And then I left.

But not until I thumbed through enough gossip magazines to learn that Bella has recently cheated on Edward.

(Memo to Bella: What's up with that? Edward suddenly not enough vampire for you?)

So yeah. The transaction was nothing special. At least it wasn't a "lame transaction," however, and believe me I would know what a "lame transaction" looks like. I've had a few of those, too.

The lamest 7-Eleven transaction I ever had was that day many years ago when I stopped to buy a single can of Dr. Pepper only to discover I didn't have any cash. So I wrote a check for 67 cents, only to discover (later) that I'd written the check on a checking account that wasn't open anymore.

But back to the subject at hand, which is this: Why did my 7-Eleven receipt congratulate me for doing something so incredibly not special?

I have a little theory. We Americans are all about the self-esteem thing, right? We want our kids to have it, and we want it for ourselves. I totally want it for myself. In fact, I want to acquire a two years' supply of it and stack it on my basement shelves.


Is it possible that in our efforts to build everyone's self-esteem, we have all gone around the Building-Self-Esteem-Bend? Should we all be getting ribbons and certificates and (apparently) receipts just for showing up?

Just wondering…

Ann Cannon can be reached at or

comments powered by Disqus