About a year ago, I posted part of this article at Bubbles (from which it's been removed). I'm reposting it because, once again, I found a cashier actually doing her job correctly, rather than trying to annoy me...this time it occurred at a Wal-Mart in Kingsport, Tennessee, and I think it may have helped that the Wal-Mart cashier's first language was Spanish.
Anyway, last year, it was "headline news for local lurkers!" when I finally bought something in a supermarket in Weber City, Virginia, and was actually pleased with the behavior of the cashier. This occurred at the Price Less Foods store near the state line.
Granted, the circumstances were unusual and may have contributed to the cashier's unusually satisfactory behavior. I was standing in line behind a wheelchair shopper who had bought a lot of groceries, and this young woman nipped around a different cash register that had been turned off, turned it on, and had tossed my five items into one small bag before the wheelchair shopper was ready to roll out of the store. But arguably this efficiency is even more of a shining example to the annoying majority of cashiers in local supermarkets...
1. Not a word was uttered until the cashier and I exchanged "thank you"'s. (I've since made a resolution to remind local cashiers that they are supposed to say "thank you" by always saying "you're welcome.")
2. Although I wasn't close enough to see the cash register, which would have been a bad thing if this had been more than a five-item, five-dollar transaction, the cashier watched what she was doing instead of trying to distract herself or me from looking at the cash register throughout the process.
3. The cashier managed to say "thank you" without being prodded, without "calling" me any kind of name, and without adding any extra verbal clutter whatsoever.
All the young woman did was her job ! And she did it competently! Hurrah! Hurray!
Unfortunately, on subsequent visits I found Price Less employees falling below this standard of service. And when I was using Chatabout, I came to understand why. It seems some corporations are actually encouraging the chatter-cheats and ordering cashiers to "engage the customers in conversation."
I think we need a law about this. If people want to distract themselves, cheat themselves, and annoy the livin' daylights out of anyone standing in line behind them by talking to cashiers, some stores may want to allow that, but the customer should always speak first . Personally, I don't want to hear a word out of a cashier until s/he says "Thank you" (and "Ma'am" is optional, since I'm already there and don't need to be "called," but under no circumstances should a cashier call me anything but "Ma'am"). And I'd like to remind those who feel that chatting with the cashier is "pleasant" that any distraction from the job will naturally cause any worker to make mistakes...but, in the case of cashiers, in my part of the world about 85% of those mistakes will be overcharges, not undercharges.
Anyway, more good news: At the Thriftway supermarket, I've met several cashiers who, at least if I resolutely withheld eye contact from them and stared pointedly at the cash register, were able to shut their mouths and do their jobs. Then again, at the Thriftway supermarket I've rarely found enough things I cared to buy that a cashier could confuse herself, whatever her expertise as a chatter-cheat.
I'm aware that the ultimate outcome of ordering cashiers to call attention to themselves (even in obnoxious ways) is sure to be, like the ultimate outcome of telling everybody that it was horribly demeaning to expect secretaries to make coffee, to generate enough friction to motivate employers to replace both the cashiers and secretaries with machines...which will be much less satisfactory for everybody than simply teaching cashiers that the customer should always speak first . I'm not sure to what extent any of us can do anything about this undesirable trend.
I do think we can all help, though, by sticking to the rule that the customer should always speak first . And making sure that we watch the cash register, and don't distract the cashiers with conversation, while purchases are being added up.