Imagine this- you’re at the grocery store. They were out of a few of the major sale items and it’s an inconvenience to your day, but it’s not the end of the world if you have to buy Simply Lemonade instead of Simply Raspberry Lemonade. You get in line- it’s kind of long but I mean it’s a Saturday afternoon, that’s when people shop, right?- and the guy in front of you is impatiently tapping his foot, checking his phone, and muttering that this is “taking forever” and that he’s “going to miss kick off in 20 minutes if this idiot doesn’t step it up” (of course referring to the cashier as an idiot).
As the cashier finishes up her order with the sweet old lady who wrote what seemed like the worlds most intricate check from the amount of work she put in, she turns to the rude guy in front of you and says, “Hi! How are you today? Are plastic bags okay?”
“Fine. Whatever is fastest, I don’t care.” he snaps back at her as he checks his phone for the billionth time since you got there.
She nods and continues working, quickly, quietly, and efficiently. She attempts to make small talk with the man about how good the strawberries are, how she hadn’t seen this new flavor of cereal, and how that was an awesome price for the ice cream, all while maintaining her pace.
He doesn’t respond once.
She looks up as she finishes and asks the man if he has his store rewards card, and he rolls his eyes as he looks up from his phone, as if she’s interrupting his correspondence with the queen.
“No. I don’t care, I don’t need it.”
“Are you sure sir? You’ll save a lot on your bill, if you don’t have it with you we can use your phone number?”
“I said no!” He snaps as he violently slides his card.
You stand there wide eyed and slack jawed as he gets his receipt from her and leaves quickly, still muttering under his breath. When you look at the girl, she is smiling at you and asking you the same beginning questions that she asked the man. You respond as politely as possible, and make small talk with her while she rings up your groceries.
You learn she is in college, and is working this job and one other part time job to save up for next semester. She graduated near the top of her class and has tons of scholarships and has been working since she turned 16.
As you’re talking to her, the man returns, yelling and screaming and calling the cashier a bitch and an idiot and every other name under the sun, because she didn’t give him his discounts. Like, the ones that she asked him about not 3 minutes later.
She apologizes to you (for what, you have no clue) and turns to the man calmly. She explains that you can only get the discounts if you enter your store card, and that she asked about it, and if he would like they can give him his money back at the customer service desk.
He rolls his eyes and says to her, in a voice that should be reserved for taking to the scum of the earth, “no. I’ll just call corporate about this, I have your name. Good luck, idiot.”
As he storms out, she turns back to you and resumes her job without a flinch.
This scenario, while it never happened to me, is a compilation of things that have happened to me and other cashiers since I got my job at the local grocery store.
If you have never worked with the public, which I can assume about a good portion of the shoppers at my store, then you don’t understand fully the struggle of being patient and smiling through everything. You’ll never know what it’s like to hear that you have no clue what you’re doing from a drunk man who wants more booze (how did he get to the store???), or what it’s like to have your actions scrutinized by a mom who can’t even keep her kids from running around.
From a retail worker to someone who has never worked for the public: no, I don’t know why the price went up. I don’t make the sales, I’m not sure why it’s not all varieties, and I don’t really want to hear you tell me all of the prices on the items you put on my belt. I don’t put prices in the computer, and I don’t put them on the shelf. I am not ringing up your items wrong on purpose.
Finally: I live my life. I do not live for my job, and even though my current job isn’t a desk job where I have to wear pant suits every day, without me you wouldn’t be able to come shopping for your groceries.
So thank your cashier, and the stock boy, and the people in the office and the deli and the bakery. Thank everyone in the store, because they have to put up with some crazy things.