14 November 2008

In Defense of Cashiers

Last week a co-worker complained about the cashier she'd had at the grocery store the night before. Today I read an 'open letter to cashiers' on someone's blog. And so, I've had enough of rudeness and disrespect towards cashiers. (And just so you know, I cashiered for three years. Before that I was as disrespectful, both subtly and overtly, as anyone else in middle-class America. I've learned to think charitably towards cashiers the hard way.)
  • They might have a headache, a backache, a neckache. Standing in one place all day hurts. Their feet probably hurt. They might be getting carpal tunnel syndrome because of the repetetiveness of scanning merchandise, loading bags, swiping credit cards, etc. They may be tired of being inside and only seeing artificial in-store fluorescent lighting. Be kind even if they are grumpy.
  • They might have had it up to here and just can't smile at the 10,000th complainer come through their line being rude about something self-centered like "I couldn't find your toasted almonds." Be gracious even if they are distant.
  • In big box stores, each department operates pretty independently from all the others; most likely the cashiers know nothing about any of the other departments and how they operate. It's not their fault you couldn't find the toasted almonds. Don't talk to them like they went and hid all the toasted almonds on purpose. Be patient even when you are annoyed. (Even though advertising makes you feel entitled to toasted almonds, and entitlement makes you feel anger when thwarted, remember that in context of eternity, you actually aren't entitled to toasted almonds. Treating someone like they are scum because your desire for toasted almonds was thwarted is rude. It's more than rude. It's sinful.)
  • Don't talk on a cellphone when you are being checked out. It's (so very, very) rude. You hate it when cashiers have their own conversations; cashiers hate it when you totally, completely, and in all others ways ignore them and treat them like they don't matter.
  • If you can't hang up your cellphone when it's your turn at the cashier, at least take a moment during your call and say something like this: "Excuse me, Loretta, just a moment...Hi, Cashier, I'm sorry I'm on the phone. This is an important call...yes, Loretta, I'm back..." At least you are acknowledging that a person is waiting on you, even though it's not as good as hanging up the phone in order to interact with your cashier.
  • Keep in mind that most stores require employees, especially cashiers, to do their darndest to solicit new business. It's their job to offer you more stuff, another credit card, or whatever. Whatever you decide to do--accept or decline--be polite.
  • Be patient if your cashier doesn't have change for your big bill. They will get change. In the meantime, you can be patient.
  • If you've been waiting in a long line, it is not the cashier's fault. Do not take your frustration out on them. (Your frustration may not even be valid; it might be fruit of self-centeredness and sinful entitlement.) (Take advantage of the long wait to read all those magazines they have right there, or to interact with your kids, or to memorize Scripture, or to pray for the people you see around you while in the long line.)
  • Cashiers know that kids tend to melt down in the checkout line. They have seen it all. (I have seen it all. Consequently, I will raise my children perfectly when I have them. *wink, wink*) Just deal with your child--you do know your own child, after all--deal with your child as best as you can. (I think I shall also blog about parenting in a checkout lane.)
  • If there's something a cashier can do for you (like help you load your groceries into your cart while you wrangle your kids), and they seem to be ignoring you, they might not be ignoring you on purpose. To get their help, just ask them. Be polite, and say something like, "Excuse me, could you help me load these bags into my cart while I keep my kids in hand? That would be very helpful. Thank you." Don't expect them to read your mind, because they can't.
  • If you shop with little kids, they are learning all their social norms from you. Do you want them to grow up treating cashiers (and other employees) like second-class citizens? No, of course not. Be careful the behaviors and attitudes you model for your kids.
  • Do you think your cashier is too slow? They might be new. They might be tired, sick, fighting a migraine, worried about something really intense. They might be slow thinkers, or just not as quick to process as you are. They might have a lower intelligence and are working as fast as they can.
  • If you know Jesus, think about how He would treat cashiers. Would He treat them like they were expendable? invisible? stupid? irrelevant? Cashiers are used to being treated--by customers and bosses alike, which is sad--as if they aren't very important. You have a chance to change their day by being 'Christ with skin on' for them. Remember that they too are eternal souls, valuable and precious in God's sight.
  • Do they act like they have stopped caring? It seems minor, but it's actually the saddest symptom of all. We were designed to care about our work and to derive pleasure from it. If they've stopped caring, they need your care, concern, and consideration all the more. Be 'Christ with skin on' for them by caring about them even when they don't deserve it.

1 comment:

Ian said...

Right on! Good thoughts to ponder the next time I'm in line and in a hurry.