Sunday, April 15, 2007

Give Your Cashier a Break Today

That cashier you deal with could be my son. It could have been me a year or so ago. It could be an accountant or a teacher, working part time on the side to help their family surive financially. I knew one woman who worked both a professional job and a department store job, and also had a family to take care of. I knew another woman, a grandmother in her sixties, who worked three jobs (and ended up in the hospital).

The cashier you encounter could also be someone who's going through something really horrendous in his or her personal life. And yes, I've known some cashiers and sales associates for whom that truly was the case!

It's not always easy to give your cashier a break. As a matter of fact, I have a confession to make. It was very hard for me, just the other day! I was checking out my always low price items, and I was having trouble hearing what the cashier was saying to me...not so strange in a noisy place, since I'm deaf in one ear. So I asked her what she had said, but she answered that she wasn't talking to me. Then I saw that her cell phone was open on the counter in front of her, and she was talking into it. Toward the end of the transaction, I once again asked what she had said, and she once again said it wasn't me she was talking to. How could she ignore me like this? Very rude. I was beginning to lose patience, but I decided to be polite and calm while being at least a bit open with her about what she was doing. So I said to her, "I can't tell when you're talking to me - and when you're talking to the person on your cell phone." She said, pleasantly, "I wouldn't call you a ........" I don't even know what word she finished the sentence with, because I didn't hear it, but evidently this was something she had said to her friend that she wouldn't think of saying to me...yet she had said it in my presence.

Now what could I have done at that point? There was a fleeting thought of complaining to management. After all, this girl should learn how she should treat customers. But you know what? I've been through this girl's line before, and I picked her line this day because she's pleasant to do business with. Who knows WHY she felt a need to talk on her cell phone this particular afternoon? One thing I do know is that the cashiers are usually very overworked...not only at that store but at every retail establishment I've seen in the past several years. I know how demotivating that can be! I know the lack of support from management that sometimes occurs. I know the anxiety that goes with reduced hours, as it causes overwork and not enough money coming in to pay the bills...even expenses that high school students have gone to work to pay. I know it all. So I just thanked her (she DID ring up my items, you know), and went on my way.

Would you like to do the spiritual works of mercy without getting further from home than your grocery store? "To bear wrongs patiently" is one of those works, and you just may have an opportunity to do that at your grocery store, post office, airline counter, or other place of business. Just remember: Very often the problems that occur are not the fault of the clerks. Much of the time they are simply exercising company policies that they don't like any better than you do. And even when problems are the fault of the clerks, it wouldn't hurt to cut them a little slack. Because of your kindness, some cashier might go home talking about the person who was nice to them, instead of talking about yet another person who abused them. You might save someone's day...or more. God bless you!


Ladybug Mommy Maria said...

Important reflection!!!

Anne Kunkel said...

Thank you for the perspective. Very true, very inspirational....very Margaret Mary!

Margaret Mary Myers said...

Thank you, Maria. Comments keep me going. :) And I'm so glad I met you -- doing a search for Tater Tots, of all things! :)

Margaret Mary Myers said...

Thanks, Anne! Always so nice to hear from you. Missing you, from here in Baltimore.