Saturday, August 13, 2005

A Sense of Humor

I've learned, slowly and over time, that having a sense of humor is a very good thing, especially in my line of work. I took a summer job cashiering at a grocery store and it only furthered my point. People will blame you, as the person that they are looking at, for everything they find wrong with the store or are angry about. Because it's always your fault, no matter what. The food rings up a different price than they thought it was, your fault. They left their discount card at home, your fault. The special sale item that they drove across town to get is all gone (imagine that), again, your fault. No matter what it is, no matter how crazy the situation seems, it's always your fault.

People always make it more difficult for you, nothing is ever done the easiest possible way. They always take their time, assuming that you have all day just like them. It's almost guaranteed that at least one person will come through your express lane with a cart overflowing with groceries and unload half of them onto the belt before you've finished helping the customer before them; thus making it impossible to turn them away to another lane. Oh, and the ones that do that, always have to write a check, but they don't have it filled out and waiting for you. Nope, that would just make too much sense. Nor do they fill it out while you're ringing up their obsene amount of groceries (at least it's obsene for the express lane). They wait until you give them their total to whip out their checkbook and say "How much do I owe you", forcing you to repeat yourself at least one more time, which you do because you want them out of your lane. Naturally, their check doesn't want to go through the machine the first time around. Naturally, you're forced to punch all the buttons again and stick the check back into the machine, hoping desperately that it will work and you can get this annoying person out of your line! (This happened today, I'm just venting)

Mr. Courtesy Card

Then, there's people who think they know how to run a store, and proceed to tell you all about their genious ideas. Or the ones that yell at you for following rules or about management's new policy, like you made it yourself just to tick them off.
"I must have done my job because it's working, isn't it?"
Like this one guy I had. He had all of four items, which would explain why he chose my lane, and when I asked him if he had a discount card with him, he proceeded to say, "No but you swipe courtisy card" (he was also foreign, so his English wasn't perfect, unfortunately, I could still understand him).
I replied, "I'm sorry, but we don't have the courtisy card anymore, they took it away"
Which was true, I got back from vacation and found out that this was one of the things discussed at the meeting I missed. Apparently, our store has the highest courtisy card swipe number of the stores in our area, so they took the card away. Making new rules about it too. We aren't allowed to swipe our own cards for the customers and we aren't allowed to ask any of the other customers for theirs. Rediculous isn't it? I can see where the store would want to save money, but this is just nuts! The cashiers are as unhappy about it as the guests are, more so because the guests seem to think it's the cashier's fault! Anyways...

This guy said, "I want a manager" and then went on a rampage about how he was in the store every other day and how everybody knew him. How he was "in here yesterday" and got the card swiped for him then, "the rules change overnight? They different today?". How he spends $200 or $300 dollars a week in the store, and just on and on while we waited for a manger to come over (I had called for one when he asked, but of course, no one was coming to my rescue). He kept saying stuff like do this "before you kick me out of store" and "I know you want to get rid of me", and all this other crap that I had no idea where it was coming from because I had been nothing but apologizing and trying to help him. Finally, one of the main store managers happens to walk by and my guy recognizes him and asks if he has a card. The manager, not even looking at this guy, just hands me his card, I swipe it and hand it back. I almost died from smothering laughed when I saw how much the guy saved, but I didn't say anything. I just bagged his items. The guy then proceeded to tell me how to do my job when a customer tells me they don't have a card. He pointed at the application table and was saying how I should offer to get them a card and all this other BS and brought up the kicking him out of the store thing and he claimed "I know you want me out of here".

Finally, he leaves and I start ringing up the next customer. She couldn't have been more than 15 or 16 and was probably running an errand for her parents or something. When I smiled at her and said "hello" and apologized for the wait, she said,
"Jeez, my mom got a card last week and it didn't take more than 3 minutes."
"Yeah." I said. "And for all that fuss, he saved 20 cents."
After all the crap he gave me before I had a chance to offer my card or see if anyone else in line had one (I didn't know about that particular rule at that point), there was no freakin way that I was going to give him a break and let him use my card!

Too Many Scans

I had another lady who grabbed the wrong ice cream one day. Bryer's was on sale as "buy one get one free", there were signs everywhere, huge signs too, and this woman grabbed two Edy's. When I scanned the first one, among her other groceries, she was watching the screen to see what price it came up as, and when it didn't come up as the right price, she promptly told me.
"No, that's not right" She said forcefully, pushing the ice cream (that was still in my hands!) back towards me...and across the scanner...
It scanned like three times before she let go and I could put it down! I had to call a manager to void it because it was over the amount I'm allowed to do without an override. Boy did this woman look ticked when I called for manager assitance though! I think it was worth the trouble she gave me! She was mad and it wasn't anybody's fault but her's because she grabbed the wrong ice cream and she shoved it across the scanner because she thought she knew better than me and the computer!

"Next time wait!"

Then, on the same day as Mr. Courtesy Card, only earlier, I got a woman who seemed to think that she also had the right to tell me how to do my job. Now, usually, when I'm entering the money they've given me into the computer, I hit the numbers fast, but I wait before I actually finish it up, just in case they have change that they want to give me. Most people will look around for change so they don't end up with more coins, or they tell me before hand that they might have the change. This woman handed me a twenty dollar bill (her total was something like $15.16) and waited until I punched in the numbers, pushed the "cash" button, popped the drawer open, and started counting her change before she decides that she has change and wants to give it to me because she doesn't want anymore. When I told her that it was already in the computer and I couldn't change it now, she gave me this deer in the headlights look, like I had three heads or something. When it finally registered in her head what I had said and why i wasn't taking her coins, why I was giving her more in fact, she said, in a very rude and condesending tone, "Well next time you should wait."

Um, last time I checked, this was the express lane and I'm suppose to get customers in and out. Fast is a good thing. If you didn't want more change, you should give me the coins before I punch in the numbers like the rest of the population, not wait until the last second after you've watched me enter everything. Figure out what the hell you're doing before you start to get off telling me how to do my job.

In Conclusion

So, yeah, I've learned that if you've got a sense of humor, if you can learn to laugh about the customers after they leave, you have a much less stressful time at work. If you can laugh, and not take anything personally, you can actually get through life pretty well too. I'm a firm believer in the fact that you really do need a sense of humor to get through life, it really is much easier to live and laugh at people and yourself.