I’m not sure which was worse — the person who’d plopped down dozens of items in the express lane with the sign that expressly noted it was the place for 15 items or less or the …
I’m not sure which was worse — the person who’d plopped down dozens of items in the express lane with the sign that expressly noted it was the place for 15 items or less or the person who started screaming at the clerk when the price didn’t ring up as expected.
Wait, no. It was the screaming.
On a recent trip home from a Middletown doctor’s appointment, I stopped off for what I hoped was a quick run into Monticello’s ShopRite to grab a few odds and ends. When you live in Western Sullivan County, trips to the Eastern end are treated as efficiently as possible to make up for the long drive to and from.
Queuing up in the express lane with just a few items in my cart, I thought I’d be back to the teenagers sitting in the air-conditioned car quickly, and head back to our corner of the world.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
But I’m not the truly wronged party in this story.
That honor (?) goes to the cashier who managed to keep his cool through an ordeal that is all-too-common for grocery store workers.
First there was the woman who’d overshot the 15 item limit by at least 100. Not only did she ignore the limit, but she left the cashier to do all the bagging, and bullied him as he did so. When she couldn’t find her money, he patiently helped, then — still calm and patient — leaned over to manage the credit card machine when she couldn’t figure it out. Then, just as it seemed he might be free of her, the transaction closed, she came back demanding he make change of her $20. He did it ... patiently, before turning to the next customer in line.
As all this happened, with a line growing, his boss came along to tell him he really needed to get moving and get on his break.
With this warning, he tried to make sense of the next customer’s nonsensical asks — she wanted to split her orders into two, but her directions were unclear to him and to me both, and it hardly helped that she was speaking in a whisper.
When the item total hit, he calmly shared it, only to have the customer — who you’ll remember was unclear in her directions — start yelling and cursing, accusing him of ripping her off.
This was 15 minutes in the life of a cashier. It’s hardly the first time I’ve seen this sort of behavior. Heck, I worked a stint as a cashier once years ago and have been on the receiving end myself.
But as we come out of a pandemic — or at least hope we might — it seems imperative that we consider these workers we have thought of essential, these people we have depended on so desperately and who have gotten us through so much.
Consider them, and treat them as you yourself would want to be treated.
It’s really the very least you can do.