Tag Archives: cashier

I’m feeling blessed

I’m feeling so blessed lately. It’s more than a feeling, actually, I am blessed. Blessed be my name. I think it’s from last week, I was at the grocery store, this lady and I were heading toward the cashier at the same time and, even though I knew exactly how it was going to play out, her with that little granny-cart filled to the brim with produce, I smiled and waved her on through. Even though it would’ve taken me maybe a fifth of the time have just my dozen or so items scanned through, I’d have paid with my credit card, swipe, done, see ya.


But it was even worse than I could have imagined, everything she had in that cart, there was some sort of a corresponding coupon, somewhere in her hand, if only she could just match them up one by one. If she wasn’t such a sweet looking old lady, I might have started tapping my feet impatiently, like you know how people do it, right? They fold their arms and they tap one foot on the ground really aggressively, a very quick, constant tapping, and they look right at you.

And this whole process just kept snowballing, it was more and more unbearable to watch, the item got scanned, “Wait, wait, wait, I have a coupon.” And the cashier would be like, “I know. I know you have a coupon. You gave it to me already.” And the old lady would be like, “Really? Well, why does that only say twenty-seven cents saved? I though my coupon was for thirty-two cents.” And they’d have to go back and double check that, yes, unfortunately it was only a twenty-seven cents savings, all the while the lady was just shaking her head, unable to process why the grocery gods had forsaken her, those five extra cents.

But she was really old, maybe she reminded me of my grandmother. She kind of smiled at me when I let her go ahead, even though, like I already said, I would’ve been much, much quicker. But I guess statistically speaking, she’s the one with less time. If I make it to be an old man, I certainly don’t want to have to waste any of my precious minutes left waiting behind the younger generation at the grocery store.

That half-smile she gave me as she waltzed on through to the cashier, I couldn’t even tell if she was smiling, not a conscious smile, it could have been one of those etched-on smiles that old people sort of settle in to after a whole lifetime of smiling. Or frowning. It could go either way. Have you ever seen an elderly person trapped under the weight of a lifetime of scowling? No, this lady had clearly been I’d say at least generally happy, maybe a little confused, like she was at that moment, studying the screen as each item popped up after being scanned, like, is this right? Did I really pick this stuff out? Weren’t there supposed to be more savings?

And then as she was counting out the exact change needed to pay for everything, that painstaking process of taking out her really, really big wallet, getting her fingers to pry apart the leather insert that separated her cards from her cash from her coupons, I probably could have stood to maybe mind my own business a little better, but I couldn’t take my eyes away, I swear, it was like that wallet was ninety-five percent filled with cut out pieces of paper.

But like I said, somewhere in this eternal process of paying in exact change, she knocked the quart of milk off of the conveyor. And I guess that it was a good thing I was paying way too much attention to every little detail unfolding in slow motion right before my eyes, because I was ready, I saw that quart go down, maybe I could have even stopped it from getting knocked over, but I was locked in, I wanted it pushed over that edge.

I swooped down, maybe a little too dramatically, I caught it with one hand, returned it to the counter before the old lady even had a chance to register what was happening. But thirty seconds later, it must have sunk in, because her perma-smile got just a little bit smilier, like remember how I was saying before how I couldn’t tell if her smile was really a genuine one? This one was definitely genuine. And she said, “Bless you!” which I thought, ha, bless you, what an old-fashioned thing to say.

But after she was done, when it was my turn to run my groceries through, it turned out that there were all sorts of savings that applied to my purchases, discounts and promotions that I was completely oblivious of. And then outside the store, I found a five-dollar bill on the ground. I started to think about it, that blessing business from before, could it have been more than just a polite gesture? Did this lady actually bless me?

And I’d have to conclude that, yes, I’m feeling really blessed. Like I went to work the next day and my boss said, “Hey Rob. Nice haircut. Looking good.” And I said, “Thanks boss.” But I hadn’t gotten a haircut in weeks. I’m telling you, blessed. I’m not sure how long this blessing is good for, but I’m just raking in all the good karma. I’m telling you, it pays to be nice, especially to little old ladies. You never know what sort of lifetime supply of blessings and good-wishes they have tucked away in those giant old-lady purses, just ready to bestow upon whichever good looking young lad happens to let them ahead at the grocery store, or saves their quart of two-percent from making a mess at the register.

Just count to five

I was out getting some pizza for lunch. The guy gave me my slices, I paid, took a few steps toward the door and then thought, wait a second, I should have bought a soda. So I took a step back toward the counter, but the pizza guy was facing the other direction, he was standing by the oven, having a conversation with one of his coworkers.


I was really hungry, and I wanted to get home and eat that pizza as soon as possible, but I didn’t want to be a jerk. Still, one second turned into two seconds, and I began to fear that I might be stuck there in pizza counter limbo, my food getting cold, nobody realizing that I hadn’t actually left the building, that I was still standing there, patiently waiting to be noticed, just a soda, please, I’ll be on my way.

By the third or fourth second, I remembered this one time I was at a bagel shop on Long Island. There were maybe four or five people ahead of me in line, but the guy right in front of me, you could just tell he wasn’t in the mood to be waiting, he kept fidgeting, looking around. As soon as the person in front of him paid and walked away, there was this two or three second pause where the cashier didn’t automatically turn his way and ask, “Yes? Next?”

She closed the drawer on the register, she took a bottle of Snapple out from under the counter, and she took a sip. As she was putting the cap back on the bottle, Mr. impatient in front of me, he screams out, “Can I please just get a sesame bagel with butter?” like really nasty, it was a yelling, he yelled out his order, like a total crazy person.

And I have no idea what this guy’s life is like. Maybe he had some sort of a family emergency back home, maybe he needed food in his stomach immediately, it’s pure conjecture. But I don’t know, regardless of whatever it is that you’re going through, I don’t find it ever acceptable to just shout things at people, “You! Give me a bagel!”

She didn’t even say anything. She just got him the bagel, put it in a bag, and he walked out in a huff. It was one of those moments where I really wanted to say something, a, “Take it easy, buddy,” something not too aggressive, but just aggressive enough. But I always get afraid of these random confrontations. It’s like, when I’m at work, I always think, man, if I didn’t have my job to worry about, I’d totally say something to this rude person or that inconsiderate guest. But then I get an opportunity like this in real life, and the moment passes without my having even mustered the courage to do anything.

And I get it, all the time at work, sometimes people have to wait, sometimes people refuse to wait. I think I write this almost every time I mention work or customer service, but you get a certain type of person who sits down and, while you’re in the middle of saying, “Hello!” or, “How’s it going today?” they’ll cut you off and bark out, “Diet Coke. No ice.”

Whenever I complain about stuff like this, or whenever I hear conversations regarding rude customers and their lack of pleasantries, there are always a few sure rebuttals, stuff like, “Well that’s your job,” and, “I’m not paying to be friends with you. I’m paying for a Diet Coke.” Yeah, you’re paying for a soda, you’re paying for a bagel.

And this argument is total bullshit, this idea that because you’re paying, because you are exchanging your money for something, that you don’t have to be nice. Sorry, I don’t mind being polite, but I’m hungry, and it’s my money involved, and so if you don’t like my acting like a dick, I’ll just go ahead and spend my dollar fifty for a bagel somewhere else.

Business is business, and so if push ever did come to shove, if that lady at the bagel place decided to fight back, it would have been a screaming match, the owner would have gotten involved, “Please, sir, I’m so sorry. Please, have this bagel, on the house. We appreciate your business. Please, I beg you, I’ll fire this lady. I value your patronage, don’t leave, here take another bagel, a free dozen.”

Unfortunately, this is the reality of customer service. I’m paying, so even though I shouldn’t be a jerk, I don’t have to not be a jerk. Because I’m paying. If you try to distill every human interaction into a monetary transaction, this is the natural result, where it’s perfectly acceptable to bark out orders or chew out the man or woman behind the counter.

And then the fifth second turned into the sixth second, I snapped out of my daydream at the pizza place, the pizza guy finished his two-sentence conversation and turned around. “What’s up boss, you need anything else?”

“Yeah, can I just get a soda please? Thank you.”

“You got it.”

And I went home, my pizza was still hot. Sure, I think I lost like seven seconds total, and yeah, I guess you can’t really put a price on time. Time is money, right? But everything was cool, I didn’t have to shout out, I didn’t have to interrupt. Everybody just needs to chill out and take a breath. Just count to five, man, just count to ten or eleven.

Four extra-large sodas

And I was like, “Just try to stay out of my way, OK?” which, yeah, it sounded a lot cooler in my head, I was going for the whole, “I got this,” or at a more basic level, “Don’t worry, don’t have any doubts in me,” but it came out the way it came out, arrogant, dismissive. It was too late for an apology, it would have killed the momentum, totally destroyed whatever we’d already set up for ourselves, the mood, the false determination.


A week earlier, my friend Rich had showed me this video online of two guys ordering four extra-large sodas at a drive-thru, and right as the cashier handed them their drinks, the driver threw the oversized containers back through the window. All you heard was the scream, she must have gotten soaked, followed by the crazy laughter of the two guys in the car as it sped away.

I remember laughing so hard at that video, the insane kind of funny that, looking back now, I’d never laugh, I’d never let myself. It’s too mean. I’d feel automatically too bad for that woman, she probably hates her job, or maybe she doesn’t hate her job, maybe it’s just me, I hate my job and I assume everybody else hates their job also. Maybe she’s happy. But she’s working the window at the drive through, she gets out the XL cups, fills them all up.

And then what does her boss say? The manager hears the spill, he looks up and the window-girl is doused in soda, there’s a mess everywhere. Did the computer get wet? What about the register? Did the soda make it to the cash? It’s everywhere. She feels bad, like even though everyone says they believe her, she’s worried some of them might suspect she’s making it all up. Because seriously, who would do something like this? And why?

But back when I was seventeen, when I finally had a car, independence, those were things I wasn’t focusing on, the who, the why. My whole world was all of the sudden open and new, I got such a crazy thrill out of anything I hadn’t been exposed to before. And this act summed up everything that I wanted in life at that moment, the ability to look around at the most mundane of situations and still be thrown for a total loop, like nothing applies anymore, everything you thought you knew, forget it.

I think Rich might have suggested we try it out also, or maybe he didn’t directly suggest it, but he said something like, “We would never do something like that,” just something to say, but I took it as this personal challenge, I was like, “Well, I would do that,” not even thinking about how this was already escalating dangerously. “No way, you would never do that,” so now here I was, Rich had thrust all responsibility my way, now this was my joke, my prank, my wild act to either carry out or chicken out of.

So we went to Taco Bell. My euphoria had definitely dwindled down into something else, an anxiety, my heart was still racing but I could tell that there was a part of me I wasn’t willing to yet consciously acknowledge that told me this was a stupid idea. And again, I wasn’t emotionally mature enough to be thinking about anybody else besides myself. I was purely concerned with what if we get in trouble, what if my parents have to get involved?

And Rich, he was pretty nervous too, but it was a carefree worry, like settling in to watch a really scary movie. Sure, he’d be along for whatever ride this turned out to be, but at the end of the day, he could always shrug and be like, I don’t know why Rob threw those sodas. I had nothing to do with it.

I pulled up to the drive-thru, I ordered four extra large Baja Blast Mountain Dews, and as we turned the corner to the window, we both kind of giggled a little bit. It was happening. The sodas had been ordered. Maybe this would be easier than the mental struggle I was setting up for myself here. Maybe all I had to do was throw and drive, and then I could laugh and laugh and laugh.

But we pulled up, and it’s this big dude, he’s passing me the sodas, telling me how much they cost. I didn’t even look at Rich, I just took out a ten, gave it to the guy, took the change, and left. Rich started laughing, I guess I deserved it, I guess he had to make fun of me, I mean, I was the one behind the wheel.

And looking back, I have that whole justification, the putting myself in the other person’s shoes, the realization that people shouldn’t go around throwing sodas at each other. But I still cringe, I still get pissed, like why wasn’t I thinking? Why did I sit there and let Rich make fun of me for the rest of the night? Why didn’t he offer me even a dollar for one of those sodas? Man, I haven’t seen my old friend Rich in forever. I wonder what he’s up to right now.

Thanks! Have a great day!

I was at the grocery store the other day, and after the cashier gave me the receipt and handed me my bags, she looked at me, she smiled and said, “Have a great day!” And I wanted to be like, excuse me, but don’t tell me what to do, OK? Why don’t you concentrate on your day? You want to have a great day? Fine. But how about just leaving me alone with my day, to do with it as I see fit?

And so, fuck that lady, bossing me around, I had the shittiest day ever. I went home and left my groceries out on the table for the whole day. The milk got warm, I had to throw the whole gallon out, the ice cream melted, my dog wound up jumping on top of the kitchen table to lick everything up. It was chocolate ice cream, and so of course he got really sick.

I had to call in to work, “Hey boss, my dog just ate a bunch of chocolate ice cream, so I have to take him to the vet,” and my boss was like, “Listen Rob, you can’t keep calling out like this so last minute. What am I supposed to do this late in the day? It’s way past time where I could’ve gotten someone else to take your shift.”

So I got fired, yep, my day was taking a sharp turn south. I got to the vet and my dog, he was like collapsing, I kept having to prop him upright just so he could take another few steps, and then it was the same thing, collapse, throw up, cough, prop up, walk. Finally we got to the office and the vet told me, “I don’t know that there’s much we can do right now,” and right as he said that, standing there scratching his chin, my dog dropped dead.

Totally not a good day. And the vet told me, “Look, I’m really sorry, but it’s going to cost two hundred bucks to dispose of the body,” and I was like, “Are you kidding me? I don’t have two hundred bucks,” to which he said, “Well, how were you planning on paying me today if your dog wound up surviving? Nothing here costs less than two hundred bucks.” And I didn’t like being talked down to like that, so I said, “Oh yeah? Nothing? Well what about those,” I was pointing to this display of leashes and collars that he had by the door.

“I was talking about medicine, treatment. That stuff over there costs twenty, thirty bucks, depending on the leash.” I said, “Nice try doc, you said nothing. You weren’t specific.” And so I hoisted the dog’s body over my shoulder, I threw a twenty on his desk and grabbed a new collar on the way out.

It took three black garbage bags to hold the dog without ripping the plastic, but I got him in there, that and the new leash I bought for him post-mortem. Everything was settling in, the dog, he being dead, me throwing away twenty bucks to prove a point. I had a lot of trouble carrying the bag to the park, and when I finally managed to get it inside one of the public trashcans, some Parks Department employee came running over, “Hey! You can’t dump that here!”

So I took off, I got back to my house, and, never having cleaned up any of that milk or melted ice cream, the whole place stunk. I don’t know how the flies got in so fast, but they were all over it, the spill, the rest of the groceries. I couldn’t find a mop so I got some old newspaper I found in the basement to sop everything up. But the newspaper print bled, the paper wasn’t absorbent, I just wound up making more of a mess than I had in the first place.

Eventually I just gave up, fuck this, the whole dog thing was really starting to weigh on me. I felt like I needed to cry but I couldn’t muster up the emotion necessary to really have any relief, it was just a ball of misery sitting right under my throat. Finally I decided that I’d better eat something, so I went back to the grocery store to get some bread, I’d make some peanut butter and jelly or something.

“Thanks a lot!” it was the same cashier ringing me up again, I couldn’t believe it. “Have a great night!” and I took the bag, I looked her right in the eye and said, “The fuck you just say to me?”