Cashier Pet Peeves Edition #1

Yesterday, people from various walks of life, classes of society, and eating habits seemed to do everything in their will to make my shift a miserable one.  Here are just a few examples…

1.)  People who refuse to put their disgusting, bloody, slimy meat in the bags provided at the meat counter.  —I like to recycle as much as anyone, believe me.  I go to great lengths to get my empty coke, water, and beer bottles to a recycle bin.  I reuse plastic bags and will even take home a pile of them that my stupid and careless co-workers try to throw away.  HOWEVER, when a chicken or pork roast is leaking all sorts of germs and potentially life-threatening juices all over my belt, (where you like to put your fresh fruits and veggies/ yay contamination!) all over my register and best of all, all over ME, I’d REALLY appreciate it if you could take an extra five seconds of your busy day and stick your meat in a bag.

2.)  People who leave refrigerated items (milk, meat, eggs, strawberries, etc) sitting out in the open, which results in us having to throw perfectly good food into the trash because it is unsafe to sell.  There are starving orphans in Africa that would love to drink that milk or fry those eggs that you wasted without even a thought, simply because you were too lazy to either tell a cashier you didn’t want the item or couldn’t walk a few feet to put it back in the cold section of the store.  If you can’t do it for the starving children in Africa, do it for starving children who, despite what you might believe, could be living a little less than a few blocks away from you.

3.)  People who don’t read.  If you legitimately cannot read, that’s another story.  If you are perfectly capable of reading the large, bold-printed sign that says:  AISLE ONE:  BREAD, but choose to ask me where the bread is instead, you’re an idiot.

4.)  People who buy $50.00 worth of crab legs and about 30$ more for Little Debbie treats with their EBT Foodstamp card and tell me, “Yeah, we got EBT so we can afford to spend $50.00 on crab legs that might last one meal.”  I can’t even afford to spend $50.00 on crab legs.  I’m so glad that my hard earned tax dollars can provide you with the gourmet meal you clearly deserve.

5.)  People who leave a bag of groceries, come back, and yell at me because I didn’t hand it to them.  Obviously.  If I’m busy, have no bagger, and am responsible for making cheerful small talk, ringing your items up, taking a form of payment, bagging the items, and giving you your change, coupons, and reciept, you ought to be able to pick up your own bag of mini doughnuts and eggnog.  If you can’t be responsible for that one, mundane, task, perhaps you shouldn’t be manning a vehicle or walking down the street by yourself.

6.)  People, who are my age (in their twenties) and have grown up in the technological age who cannot slide their debit, credit, or EBT card through the card reader.  If you’re eighty years old and don’t understand how it works, I can see why.  A calculator is a foreign enough concept, much less a machine that instantaneously takes your money.  If you have grown up in the 80’s, 90’s and the 00’s, there is no excuse for you.  None.  It is not that complicated.  I should not have to give you step-by-step instructions of which way to slide the card (when it is already printed on the machine), and read out the commands to you.  If you have a genuine learning disability or another type of disability, I can usually tell and will gladly assist, of course.  Funny enough, I’ve had autistic teenagers figure out our card reader quicker than some of the people I attend university with.

7.)  People who hold out their money and make me count it.  First, I don’t know where your hands have been.  I’m constantly sanitizing mine every hour, on the hour, thanks to all of the filthy money I’m handling, but I REALLY don’t enjoy directly touching YOUR hand.  Second, if you can’t count change (i.e., you never learned, you’re from a foreign country where the currency is different, you’re under the age of 6), be polite and explain that you are having problems so I can help you.  DO NOT shove your hand in my face and say, “You count it!”  Third, if you’re just plain lazy and can’t even handle counting out 16 cents in the supermarket…you’re an idiot.

8.)  People who don’t believe that the taxes are so high on tobacco and alcohol products.  They are.  Get over it.  If you want to blame anyone, blame the government.  I have nothing, whatsoever, to do with the tax on your Natural Light.  And if you’re drinking Natural Light to begin with, you seriously should rethink your life choices.

9.)  People who don’t realize that they left their wallet at home until I’ve rang up a 200$ order and bagged all of their groceries.  It is not that difficult to check and make sure that you have money before you even leave the house.  I end up doing work for nothing, having to wait on a manager to void out your entire order, thus holding up other customers in the line, and believe it or not, someone has to put alllllll that food back up.  It’s usually me.

10.)  People who take about 10 minutes digging through their bags to locate money, their drivers license or the check they need cashed.  Be ready when you get up front.  That would not only be faster and easier for me, but a lot more courteous to the three people waiting in line behind you!

11.)  People who stand in my line and complain about everything in the store.  Here’s the deal, arrogant, moaning, most likely obsese, jerk.  If you don’t like the service, the items we carry, the management, the state or cleanliness of the store, the price of the items you choose to buy, or even the way the parking lot is shaped…SHOP SOMEWHERE ELSE.  PLEASE.  I am more than happy to suggest about five other places that you can be shopping at.  I’m also more than happy to tell you exactly where you can stick that stalk of overpriced celery.

 

More to come.

 

 


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I Love Helping You Buy Beer, Blunts, and Trashy Magazines.

Welfare.

It might be a touchy subject, but here’s the deal, plain and simple:  If you can afford $100 worth of Bud Light in a single shopping day, I personally see no reason why the dollars I’m working hard to make ought to help provide you with food stamps.  If you can buy every trashy magazine that sits in the aisle plus a carton of cigarettes that cost nearly $50 a pop, I don’t understand why you need food stamps to cover your spaghetti and meatballs.

I have no issue with helping those in need.  I have a friend who has been sick most of her life, cannot work, and has a child from a previous marriage with problems of his own.  In this type of circumstance, I’d be happy to know my hard-earned tax dollars are going to buy them some meals in order to survive.  However, if you walk through my line toting your fancy coach bag, sporting newly manicured nails  and blabbing on your Iphone, I’m less likely to be thrilled about the fact that you’re paying for your food with a foodstamp card.

Recently I had a young man come through my line.  He didn’t acknowledge my existence at first since he was busy talking on the phone and finally pointed at a pack of White Owl blunts directly behind my head.

“Yeah, I need those.  White Grape.”

Okay, no problem.  I ring them up.  He continues talking on the phone and says a few things that children under 13 shouldn’t be allowed to hear before laughing and saying, “Yeah man!  Hook me up.  Yeah, about $70 dollars worth.  I’m getting the blunts now.  It’s some real dank weed, man. ”

And for the sandwich items he bought, coming to a grand total of about 16$, he used his food stamp card.

Some people are angry about this new idea that people on welfare ought to be drug tested regularly.  Had I not been working in grocery stores for the past few years, I probably wouldn’t have cared one way or the other.  Now, I say, yesDrug test the masses.  The amount of people who grace my presence daily that are under the influence of something is usually too many to count.  And the majority of them pay for their food items with government money.

a.k.a.  MY MONEY.

I don’t have a problem with people who smoke weed.  I don’t have problems with people who drink alcohol.  I don’t have problems with people who actually think think that Kim Kardashian is the antichrist because the tabloid they bought said so.  I drink on occasion myself.  Everyone has a vice, and that’s perfectly fine with me.  Whatever.  I just don’t want to pay for it.

When I see people come through and spending a great deal of money on cigarettes, beer, and tabloids, I expect them to be perfectly capable of affording their dinner too.  If you come to the realization that you’re dishing out as much for a 24 pack as you are for your kid’s chef-boy-ardee meals, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your spending habits and get your priorities in order if you’re using government money to afford it all.

Then again, who cares, right?  It’s not like money doesn’t magically grow on trees out in the backyard.  All the tax dollars that get plucked out of my measly paycheck aren’t going to help you support your habits or anything.  It’s not like I matter or what I’m doing matters because I’m just a cashier.  I don’t need that money for anything important so it might as well go towards your disgusting Four Loko’s and smoke sessions with your pot dealer.

There’s also the fellow who brings his seven children and wife into the store, buys close to $1,000 worth of food (it took three baggers to help me get all of their groceries sorted), and says that they’ll be back in two weeks for more.  When I ask for his loyalty card (which will save him close to $400 at least, possibly more), he waves his hand in my face, chuckles merrily, and says:  “It doesn’t matter.  I’m not paying for this.  The government is!”

No, you jackass.  I am.  And so are those three baggers and the two managers at customer service.  And the other three cashiers.  And the four stock boys.  And the the dairy guys.  And the tag girls. 

I scanned my own card.

I do have those people who come in and are clearly in need of government aid…who don’t actually have any.  Go figure.  Then there’s the few that tell me why they are using food stamps at all (my husband was fired, my business collapsed, we went into bankruptcy, my husband has untreatable cancer and can no longer work to support us, I have Parkinson’s, my husband died two years ago leaving me with five children, etc) and most of them, despite the terrible situations they are in and despite the bad cards they’ve been dealt, seem genuinely embarrassed that they need help.

Just remember the next time you swipe your food stamp card and then make a $50 liquor run, someone has to pay for your grand evening with Jack Daniel’s.  That someone is probably someone like me and chances are, they aren’t too happy about it.

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Put on a Happy Face!

The funny thing about working anywhere in the United States that deals with constant customer service, is the fact that most of us in those jobs are paid to lie to the consumer.  I’m not talking about lying about our products, what we sell, where it’s located, what time it will be delivered, etc.  I’m talking about the everyday conversation we have with the people who come through our check-out lines.

To be quite frank, after asking hundreds of other people I’ve never met before how their day is, I really could care less about yours.  Especially if you’re just churning out the same mundane lie that I might be.  It’s an endless cycle of, “Hi, how are you today?”  “I’m fine, thanks.  How are you?”  “I’m good.  Do you have your loyalty card?”  Blah, blah…blah.

And if we are all perfectly honest with ourselves, you probably don’t care that much about my day either.  And no, I don’t take any offense to that whatsoever.

I have come to see thousands of faces, most of which don’t seem too thrilled to be in my presence at the grocery store.  I don’t know what those people are going through…maybe they had a cavity filled, or their car had a flat that day, or their kid flunked an algebra test, for all I know.  Maybe it’s even worse than that.  When I ask how someone is doing and they wear a gloomy, sour expression and reply, “I’m fine, thanks,” I’m pretty sure that could be somewhat of a lie.  It’s a victimless lie, perhaps, but a lie all the same.

However, customers could be perfectly honest if they wanted to be considering they don’t get paid to be nice and pretend that the world is bunny rabbits and rainbows.  I know that some cashiers have been known to give off the impression that they generally hate the world and hope that it implodes before the night is out, but most of us try our hardest to remain upbeat and keep a fake smile plastered on our faces.  This, you see, is how you remain a cashier.  Corporate doesn’t take too kindly to seething cashiers with bad attitudes.

For example:

Smile like this, act genuinely interested in whatever this woman is saying, and you can keep your job.

If you don’t want to keep your job, do this:

From my personal experience, the best discussions with customers generally come from those who actually are honest about their days.  I don’t mean that they are rude and obnoxious about it, but they answer truthfully and (hopefully) in 10 words or less.  If they look like someone kicked their puppy and they say, “Someone kicked my puppy,” I’m much more inclined to engage in some sort of pseudo conversation with them.  No, I don’t need the entire life story, but after you’ve been standing on your feet for 8 hours, dealing with anal managers, and customers who insist that as soon as they step foot in the store that everything that goes wrong for them is your fault, you start to understand the phrase, “Misery loves company.”

Don’t be afraid to be honest with your cashier.  As soon as you say, “I’m terrible, thanks,” you’ll actually catch their attention for once.  It’s not something they expect to hear from anyone in such a blissful, everyone-lies-about-their-problems, type of society.

And really…do you expect to hear that from them?  Probably not, but at least they’ll know someone else isn’t having the best time either and might be more careful than usual while bagging your carton of eggs.

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Welcome to the Wonderful World of Customer Service.

I strongly believe that everyone, regardless of age, experience, or personal preference, ought to be subjected to working in an environment that deals directly with the general public on a daily basis.  Hence the reasoning for beginning this blog about my life as a cashier dealing with the public for what seems like endless amounts of my time.

I have officially been a grocery store cashier for almost four years and have worked for two different companies, neither of which I will ever mention due to the fact that despite what I might say, I actually want to keep my job.  Being a full time university student and finding a job (with limited to no experience in…anything) is a fairly difficult task.  One must not be too picky, especially in the current economic state.  The way I see it, and have always seen it is I’m lucky to be working at all.  Minimum wage or not, I’m still getting paid more than that one guy whose unemployment ran out six months ago and he’s about to get evicted because he can no longer afford his rent.

Yeah, I’m definitely getting paid more than that guy.

Speaking of getting paid:  Today I would like to discuss some of the things I do not get paid for and should not be doing while on the job.

I am a cashier.  This should be a simple declaration.  Most people, young and old, understand what a cashier is and/or does, but just in case you’re a tad shady on the job description, here is a great example of what I do from businessdictionary.com.

Cashier:  An employee who handles the financial transactions of a company.  In most situations, a cashier works directly at a cash register, ringing up the customer’s purchases and collecting their payment.  Cashiers are found almost anywhere a customer can purchase an item, such as supermarkets, restaurants, and retail stores.

This seems easy enough.  Straightforward.  To the point.  It actually makes my job sound like an absolute cake walk and it would be if customers would understand that my job is to “handle the financial transactions of the company.”

You bring your groceries to my register, place them on the belt, I ring them up, you pay me.  The end.

This, believe it or not, is where things begin to get tricky.

First, I am not your maid.  If you make a habit of putting all of your personal belongings inside your basket or cart, I am not responsible for what happens to them during the ring-up process, nor should I have to fish them out and hand them to you.  This includes, but is not limited to:  Your 700$ iphone 4G, your toddler’s pacifier, your driver’s license, your marlboro lights, your car keys, your husband’s car keys, your jewelry, your checkbook, your Green bay packers jacket, your Nicholas Sparks novel, your mother’s eyeglasses, or your half-eaten apple and banana peel.  It’s true that I always stash my phone and wallet in my cart when I go to the supermarket, however, I really don’t fancy the idea of someone I don’t know from Adam messing with either of those items so I take them out right before I begin to check out.

Second, I am not your babysitter.  If you have five screaming children between the ages of 2 and 14, I feel for you.  Really.  I’m sure that everyday is a torturous affair in some shape or form, but just because you forgot to take a pill or make your hubby wear a condom does not mean that I have to play temporary guardian to your little terrors while you run back to the cooking aisle because you forgot a pie crust.  Personally, I am not very good with children to begin with and while I’m standing there, holding your credit card watching little Jasmine smack little Mikey around with a banana, I’m at a loss as to what I’m supposed to be doing or saying.  I couldn’t attempt to discipline your little monsters considering the lawsuit that would undoubtedly follow, but I’m not allowed to tell you to take them with you either.

Third, I am not your divorce lawyer.  I don’t want to stand there, waiting for you to unload your groceries because you and your spouse are having an all-out war in my line.  There are other customers that probably don’t want to listen to you call one another names that shouldn’t be heard anywhere else except for an Eminem album and would rather you take your bickering elsewhere so they can get on with their lives.  It’s not any of my business (or theirs) as to why he can’t get it up in the sack, or why she always forgets to pay the water bill.  That is for you and your lovely better half to work out on your own, without me, your lowly cashier, who just wants your money.

Fourth, I am not a personal food drive.  I don’t care if you just put your money in the bank, or if you are getting evicted tomorrow, or if your father is a raging alcoholic who beat you as a child.  If your credit card does not work, I cannot give you your groceries.  As much compassion as I may or may not have, I can lose my job for giving anything away for free.  This is common sense.  I will be glad to refer you to a telephone to call your bank or a personal helpline, but I cannot allow you to walk out with a gallon of milk without giving me any money for it.

Fifth, I am not your therapist.  I really have no problem exchanging pleasantries with you while you are placing your items on my belt or sliding your card through the card reader.  If you want to discuss the weather, or the cute top you saw at JCPenney, go right ahead.  If you want to tell me how you came out of the closet to your parents on Christmas when you were 16 and they kicked you out of the house and you had to live in a box until a social worker found you and placed you in the system where you were terrorized by awful foster parents who only took you in for the government money until you were old enough to be out on your own where you worked as a part-time stripper and a waitress and wondered if you were actually a lesbian or not and had children with some guy named Bob who you never saw again and now you raise triplets all on your own and live in the worst part of town where people get mugged and killed all the time and you’re worried about your kids attending schools in such a bad district and you had to get medication for your anxiety and now you’ve injured your back while pole dancing so you have to fork out the bucks to see a chiropracter once or twice a week and in the mean time your cousin tried to commit suicide and you forgot your grandmother’s birthday and… Seriously.  Don’t.

I do not have the time to stand there and listen to every personal detail of your tragic life, nor do I think that it’s a good idea to be telling strangers your deepest, darkest secrets.  If you are having a really tough time, I am sincerely sorry, but there is absolutely nothing I can do about it while I’m typing in your WIC order and handing you baby formula.

Sixth, I am not your personal sales paper and/or calculator.  I do not know the price of every single item in the store by heart.  Unless you hand me the store’s sale card, I cannot calculate the price if a percentage has been taken off of the original price.  I also do not know the price of an item, plus it’s exact sales tax, until I’ve rang it up and hit total on my register.  It’s not any of your business, but I’ve failed college math twice.  My mathematical skills are lacking, to say the least.  If you expect me to stand there and instantly rattle off how much your frozen turkey costs after I deduct 13.73 from 36.24, you have way too much faith in me to begin with.  Be patient, give me a few moments, and I’ll use a calculator to give you the exact price (still doesn’t include the sales tax, mind you).

The list goes on… I am not your personal chef, bartender, history professor, nutritionist, social worker, physician, religious adviser, gopher, or secretary.  I do not work for Congress, any bank, or the President of the United States.  I am not in charge of your money, what you did with it, what that bank teller in another state did with it, or what your son did with it when he went through your wallet without asking.

I am a cashier.

I ring your items up and you pay me for them.

the end.

 

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