Monday, November 10, 2008

Cashiers who know too much

The checker lady at the grocery store this morning--well I can see *you* needed a lot today!

I adore small talk with cashiers at my local enormous grocery store--is it raining out? I've been in here all day. We sure are busy today. How is your day going? My, your child is perfect. No kidding, it often makes my day. I love glimpses behind the scenes of grocery store politics--I was supposed to get my break an hour ago. They have me working four tens this week. And I ESPECIALLY love the ones who patiently listen to Hugo's earnest and heartfelt stories about trick-or-treating, garbage trucks--or most recently, things that are green and things that are NOT green--interpreted as needed by his loving mother. (Because what is the deal with this boy? He is turning out to be shockingly NOT SHY, which makes me suspect a baby switch or recessive gene at work.)

So anyway I like the talk, but I do get uncomfortable if they start commenting on my actual purchases. Some are approving--seeing this food makes me wish I was going to YOUR house tonight! Some are apparently neutral, yet not--you know, apple pie really is better with Granny Smiths. Some are directly inquiring--what are you making with all THIS? No matter what, I feel a little vulnerable and wish for the safety of my car.

I do buy some unmentionables at this store. What if they started with the comments on those? A PRICE CHECK would be horrifying enough, but what are you going to do with THIS? Feeling crampy today? Or what if someone started with recommending other brands? Or commenting at the FREQUENCY at which I was purchasing some unmentionable? I would die.

Of course, if Hugo goes into the store when he is 16 and tries to buy cigarettes or booze, I hope those cashiers shame him right on the spot and call me straight away. But that is different, okay?

Okay, someone else tell a story about a cashier who opened their mouth and spoke. I can just FEEL that there is a good one out there today.


Grounded Girl said...

It's not mine, but a favorite from a movie... In "Singles", the scene where Campbell Scott goes to buy pregnancy tests and Jeremy Piven is the cashier? Jeremy Piven starts reminiscing about high school and says, "So, yeah, man, what have you been up to? Hey, we're going to be throwing down tonight at this club, You should totally come by!" and then he looks at the pregnancy tests he's been scanning and goes, "Of course, you may have other plans..." DIE.

Kristen M. said...

My favorite cashier of all time worked at a Smith's in Provo, Utah. Whenever she would have everything rung up she would get a big smile on her face and say "Your total is ONLY! $34.74". Of course, she would do this on everything from $1.83 to $84.92. It was always ONLY! It totally felt like a gameshow and we would always leave the store smiling.

Lisa Milton said...

Nothing funny today, but I loved the kindness in one my cashier's voice at Trader Joe's, while he helped an elderly woman.

I thought: Gee, he's so gentle and genuine.

Of course, he plied me with conversation and soon I was over sharing.

It sorta capped off my post-election hopes as I wondered how it would be if we all tried a little bit more to be so open and kind.

Noelle said...

Super recent... a week ago Monday I went to Trader Joe's on Queen Anne to buy some celebratory goods for Election Night. Yes, I was buying 3 bottles of sparkling wine. He asked if that's what it was for. He had an aussie accent. I told him I was optimistic and ready for the results. He didn't tell me his own persuasion - maybe he doesn't even have citizenship? - but he did wish me luck. (Wish ME luck - like I was the one running? Only how appropriate, right?)

Claire B. said...

Another Trader's story (we call it Trader's, I don't know why): Getting ready to visit my brother, who is Traderless, we stocked up on gobs of goodies, mostly crap that is Bad For You. We pushed our overpiled cart to the nice boy at the checkout and he just. . . snickered. "No," I said, "we don't have the munchies."

This is Bellingham, after all, and a comment like that is totally expected.

apathy lounge said... wasn't the was the high school kid sacking my groceries. Hubs had gotten his vasectomy years before, but I was a little late for my cycle and I started to panic. I bought a pregnancy test. I was in no mood to discuss it and I didn't even tell my husband (and I tell him everything) I was going to buy one. I purchased a few other things know...muffle the obvious impression a pregnancy test would leave, given that I was in my early 40s. The bag boy picked up the box and said," you hope it's positive or negative?" I mean...I didn't even KNOW this kid.

Jennifer said...

I'm usually a fairly friendly person, but I have to admit that I really dislike small talk with cashiers. The comments on the things I'm buying make me cringe. Even if it's just, "Oh, this shirt is cute." The comments people are reporting here are killing me!

phd in yogurtry said...

I've often stood in grocery checkout lines and wondered why the cashiers did NOT comment, esp on my "big fatass extra wide load" of groceries is moving down the conveyor belt.

Or when I have only a collection of things that are obviously for a party: beer, club soda, chips, peanuts, what have you.

But no. Never. I've guessed that cashiers are trained to not ask personal Q's about purchases.

Either that or it's me. I put off "leave me alone" vibes.

smalltownmom said...

My cashier today was very chatty, commenting on: Lean Cuisines on sale--what was my favorite flavor, and how much her daughter loved them; perrier--the cardboard 4 pack may rip so don't drop it on my foot; cranberries--how do I cook them (my answer -- the way the package says, and I also put them in stuffing.

But she was very slow at ringing up my wine discount (10% off if you buy 6 so I always look like a wino.)

Stacy (mama-om) said...

I almost cried when the cashier asked me how I was today.

Well, really, I didn't almost cry but I got a cry-smile scrunch on my face, thinking, do you really want to know?

I'm tired.
I'm hungry.
I'm overwhelmed.
I'm wracked with guilt.

You know, "I'm fine."

It wasn't my intention, but that pretty much stopped any small talk from happening.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

All the Trader Joe's stories are funny--that's the only place where I ever have a conversation with a cashier.

sarah bean said...

I was moaning to a friend that everyone knows everyone's business in this tiny town I have moved to, where we only have one little grocery store and only the same 3 people ever on the register, and I cringe every time I go in to satisfy my sugar addiction...

She told me it couldn't be worse than their local dairy where she got something the other weekend and the cashier said "what, no pixie caramel?" (which is a type of candy bar.)


Our three cashiers in our tiny local store might all talk about my candy obsession behind my back, but at least they've never said anything like that to my face!! I'd die, of course...

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I love to talk with the cashiers, too. I thought it was a west coast phenomenon.

Once (when I lived on the east coast) I worked as a cashier and asked a woman who was buying tray after tray of party platters, "Planning a party?" in a bright, happy-cashier voice. The woman glared at me. Then as she was leaving her husband whispered to me, "Funeral."

Aack! I never made any kind of small talk with my customers after that!

Marit said...

You know the story of the french cashier who wrote a book about her cahier experiences and is now a well-read author?
It's true, but I can't for the life of me remember her name!

CAQuincy said...

Can't remember any of the funny moments--and I know there have been some! But THIS memory has stuck with me.

At Walley World during a really, really busy time with long lines, and I go to slide my card. The cashier asks, "Credit?" I answer, "Yes, please." Cashier, "That's the FIRST TIME I've heard that word ALL DAY."

Then went on to talk about how no one uses their manners, anymore, etc. I think I actually blushed.

Anne-Marie said...

See, I actually prefer comments on what I'm buying than a cashier attempting to make small talk by asking me about me. Asking how my day is going? What else can you answer this stranger but "fine"? I'm sure he/she doesn't really want to know if I'm having a bad day... I get even more uncomfortable when I get asked what I did that day or what plans I have for the rest of the day. It's not really any of their business, and then I feel like I need to come up with an interesting answer... working or going home to watch TV seems like it won't cut it. And really, we can only have a 2-minute conversation anyway. I much prefer if they tell me they like that brand of cereal or say the strawberries look good this week...

cookingwithgas said...

okay- I can't help myself, I live in the south where "how are you?", "fine, how are you?" is a loaded question. Because- they will tell you. They will tell you they are not well, they are having cramps, their husband/boyfriend left them their dog died. They've felt better, but don't know what it is and their great aunt such and such or was it a cousin yep, I think it was a cousin--no no- it was their ex sister in law she one time had------- fill in the blank and she just died ya' know she just died so I don't chew gum anymore....but next week I am going to Dolly wood and I always wanting to go to Dolly woood and I could just die and go to heaven if I get to go.......
Sorry I told you I live in the south!

Anonymous said...

Well, this didn't happen to me and it wasn't a cashier, but my sister once had a courtesy clerk-- you know, one of those kids who pushes your cart to your car for you-- ask her when her baby was due and when she said near Christmas he totally WENT OFF on her for having a baby near Christmas time. Seriously.

She looked at him and told him that next time her husband and her-- you know-- they would contact him and make sure the timing met his approval. LOL.

Anonymous said...

I was buying my sewing machine the other day and it was taking ages. After a while the cashier lady said to me, "I must say, what wonderfully behaved children you have."
I looked dumb. Huh? These ones?

Melissa said...

Stacy (mama-om): BTDT. I've had similar experiences where a sales person was nice to me and I smiled, then turned around and burst into tears!

Jennifer (ponderosa): O.M.G. That story is going to stay with me for a while!

I generally don't mind the small talk with the grocery people. But I've had a couple of horrible times in cabs when I was going to a funeral or to see someone who was going to be disconnected from life support and all these guys did was YAP the WHOLE TIME. I even told one where I was going and that I really didn't want to talk. -Didn't stop him.

-Ok... you can't see me but I'm getting all tensed up about this all over again now!! :P

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