The Twilight Zone Cashier

I went to do my morning shopping after my post earlier this morning. I typically go in the early mornings to avoid crowds, and to get in-and-out of the store as quickly as possible.

COVID mask restrictions have been lifted, but I still wear a mask, and I am still highly motivated to get out of the store as quickly as possible.

Look at list. Follow list. Get items on list. Pay. Leave.

In other words, how men typically shop.

But today, I’d not be allowed to leave the store quite so quickly.

Without going through my entire list, one item I got was 8 cans of beef stew. These cans weigh 20 ounces.

I know how hard the job can be for cashiers, so I will typically put one can on the counter, tell them I have 8, they look over, see the cans, then press “8” before scanning. It’s easy, and I don’t have to move the cans more than necessary.

Typically I go see the cashier, although sometimes I’ll do a self-checkout. Today’s cashier was an unfamiliar face, and I went with it.

I set everything on the counter, but just one of the beef stew cans. I then tell her that I have 8 of them.

She replies, “Oh no, I have to see all cans and scan all cans. Sometimes each number is different.”

I was hesitant to quote, because she has a very heavy Asian accent and I don’t want to come off as a racist jerk. She demanded that I take all of the cans out of the bag and put them on the counter. Fine.

She then tells me that a customer once complained that numbers were different for the same product. She was talking specifically about the bar code.

What I saw next confounded me.

She turned all of the cans on their sides, and meticulously inspected EACH bar code. Keep in mind, for those who do not shop in America, that these codes are put on by the manufacturer and NOT the store. It’s a generic print job that almost never changes.

I’m standing there, and there’s a guy behind me wondering what the hold-up is about, since I was only purchasing 12 items. I look back and apologize, and let him know that I have no idea what is going on.

“I’m just doing my job, sir,” she said.

I did let her know that I’m 57 years old and have NEVER, ever seen ANYONE do this at any place I have ever shopped. She kept repeating how she was just doing her job.

Oh yes, my patience was wearing thin. Since I abhor the behaviors of what we in America call “The Karen,” I didn’t want to complain about it in a rude way. But I was standing there, waiting and waiting, with nothing to do.

So I let her know that I would be correcting cashiers in the future if they fail to provide this highly unique service. Again, just doing her job.

I told her how wrong these other cashiers were to NOT be doing their job. Then I pharaphrased a line from a movie.

“They are both bad AND wrong. There needs to be a special word for this, like BADWRONG, or BADONG. Those other cashiers are SO BADONG. Shame on them!

“I’m just doing my job, sir.”

It was my attempt to be light-hearted, when I felt like just cancelling my order and taking everything over to the self-service checkout machines. But I could tell that she wasn’t getting the movie reference, so I put some distance between myself and her, leaning against the ice machine nearby, waiting for her to call me over to pay.

TEN minutes later, she was ready for me to pay. TEN minutes, to purchase 12 things.

I didn’t demand that I speak to her manager, like a Karen would, although it might have been an appropriate thing to do, given this situation. But since I’m a more civilized person, I will quietly speak with a manager during a visit later in the week, to let them know.

It really surprised me that a cashier would be this strange. Chances are good that she realized she said something dumb, but didn’t want to correct herself or look wrong, so she committed to her charade.

And she didn’t want to put any of my groceries in the bag because “some customer bags are dirty. Just doing my job.”

I am proud of myself for not getting upset during this ridiculous situation.

The next time I go, I will scan it all myself, which would be faster than going through this. But if one of the other cashiers is at the station, then I’ll gladly go see them. I’ll put one can on the counter, tell them I have 8 in total, they will look in the OPEN SQUARE BAG, verify, press “8,” scan, and we’ll be done.

My typical check-out takes 45 seconds when they do it, and about 90 seconds when I do it. Ten minutes is just way too long, and as unacceptable as this situation was, I was able to contain myself and not get upset.

This is a “big W,” as the kids say. A total win.

Published by DrumWild

Writing about drums, music, and philosophy.

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