My first blog, 8 Tips on Cash Register Etiquette, was such a big hit, I thought it'd write a Part Two and release some holidays retail frustration. Enjoy.
1. Don’t Shop in A Bad Mood
Really people, if you’re in a bad mood, do not go shopping and ruin the good moods of everyone else. Your grumpy mumbling or sassy comebacks will not make for a pleasant cash register experience. If I ask you if you have a rewards card, that is not the proper time to then ramble on about your bad day or how you just want to go home, because guess what, I’d love to leave too but we can’t always get what we want, can we? I’ll never understand how you all can come shopping for gifts in the most hateful and selfish manner, but then turn around and give those gifts will love and compassion. That’s just messed up. Even if you hate Christmas shopping and are irritated by the mall crowds, there’s no need to take it out on your cashier because I guarantee you that we’re dealing will a lot more holiday bull crap than you are. Just remember shoppers, your part-time cashier is suffering through 35-hour weeks of mall madness, and you have the freedom to escape it at any given time. Come back when you’re feeling better.
2. Don’t Blame Me
Let me just tell you up front; it is not my fault that you have to shop, it is not my fault that you are spending money, and it is definitely not my fault when we don’t have the specific item/size/color that you need oh so desperately. Please don’t give the cashier a hard time when you just spent $100+ on a brand name gift – I do not make the prices around here. And don’t make smart remarks like “oh, of course you don’t” or “I should have known you wouldn’t be helpful” when I tell you that we’re out of boxes – I didn’t purposefully give them all away just so you specifically wouldn’t get one. It is not my fault that so-and-so has expensive taste or that you have 34 grandkids to shop for. I do not control prices, sales, inventory, your bank account, or what the other store has (or doesn’t have) in stock. It’ll be the day that pigs fly when customers finally realize that taking out frustration on your helpless cashier will not solve any of your problems.
3. Don’t be Stingy
I will never, ever understand the customer who comes into the store, picks out $500 worth of merchandise, comes up to the register, and then asks if they can get a discount because they are “loyal shoppers who have spent so much money in your store”. Um, last time I checked, that is what loyalty cards are for. Oh, but wait, you still refuse to sign up for one because you “get enough emails already”. Well then sorry I’m not sorry when I tell you that you can’t have a discount. And no, you cannot separate your purchase into three separate transactions so that you can use your 25% off of ONE item on three things. Rules are rules, people. The world of retail is cruel, deal with it. It’s great that you want to buy a foosball table and an air hockey table for your kids, but just because you’re getting both does not entitle you to a discount; they’re already on sale. Sure, you can speak to my manager but I promise you that you’re not going to like what she has to say either. This isn’t a flea market, you cannot barter prices.
4. Don’t Make Jerk Comments
“This must be a fun time of year for you”
“Sick of the holidays yet?”
“It’s so great that you’re staying open until eleven for the last minute shoppers.”
No, this is the worst time of year. Yes, I’ve been sick of the holidays since November 1st when they put up that stupid, oversized Christmas tree and started playing carols on the radio. And yeah, it’s fantastic that we’re open late, and then get to stay until after midnight to clean up the giant mess that you and your four kids just made in our store, only to turn around and come right back because guess what, we open earlier too. We are all trying really hard to fake smiles and be cheery but when you think that you’re being funny by reminding us of the hell that we face for the entire month of December, then don’t be surprised when I don’t laugh back. Retail workers have no ho, ho, ho, most wonderful time of the year, Buddy the Elf, Christmas joy (and if they do then they’re a rare, rare breed… or have taken happy pills). Hope you have a fantastic Christmas because you’ve sucked all the happiness out of it for me. And don’t tell me to have some holiday spirit. I want you to step behind this counter and do what I do for a day and then try to smile after that.
5. Don’t Complain About the Line
If we’re gonna all complain around here, then you might want to pull up a chair and stay a while. You don’t think I know how long the line is? You don’t think I know that you had to wait? You don’t think I know that it would be helpful if we had another cashier working? You just stood there, scrolled through your Facebook and Twitter a few times, and lost all of 5 minutes of your precious day, and then think you have to right to tell me that you’re irritated that the line was too long? I am sorry, friend, but you signed up for this. And I’m pretty sure that it’s the same thing every single year, so it really shouldn’t come as a surprise to you anymore. I am the one working on overdrive trying to move you along as fast as I can because honestly I don’t want you here for any longer than you want to be here. Don’t complain that the person in front of you needs a price check on what they believe is something that should be on sale, because I’d bet you a million dollars that you would do the exact same thing. I also do not think it is remotely funny when I ask you a question and your response is, “no, I’ve already been here long enough, I just want to pay and go.” Yeah, don’t we all, man, don’t we all. It’s also not very amusing when you angrily ask “isn’t any one working around here?” Yes, hi, me, right here! If you don’t want to deal with crowds or a long time, shop earlier or online or something. Jeez.
Happy Holidays, ya'll.
Has anyone ever thought about how our society begins to celebrate the holidays earlier and earlier every single year? I know I’m not the only one out there who thinks it’s absolutely absurd. As a retail worker, beginning signs of the impending “busiest time of the year” do not evoke feelings of joy or generosity. To be honest, it’s quite the opposite. On November 1st, the mall in which I work set up a giant Christmas tree outside of my store, as well as wreaths and lights hanging from the ceiling throughout the interior of the building. I’m sorry, people, but the first of November is way to earlier for holiday cheer.
So, as someone who ponders the motives of why humans do the things they do, I began to wonder what it is that possesses Christmas to begin weeks before Thanksgiving is even over. And this is what I’ve concluded – as a society, we have nothing else to look forward to.
Think about that for a second. It’s been stigmatized since your very first holiday season that this is “the most wonderful time of the year”. Growing up, Christmas has always meant spending time with family and receiving the exact gifts you asked for from Santa. Twinkling lights and the smell of pine conjure up warm, fuzzy feelings. It’s inevitable.
But what about the rest of the year? Work, school, taxes, responsibilities, and deadlines fill our lives. War, hate, crime, death, violence, and worry is all around. For some reason beyond explanation, Christmas seems to put all of those other things on the backburner. The whole point of the holidays is to spread Christmas cheer, show loved ones that you care, and put a smile on other people’s faces. We make ourselves believe that everything is better during this time of the year.
Then why not make Christmas come a little bit early, right? We all could use a bit more joy in our lives. It would be nice to have something to look forward to aside from mortgages and student loans. So, we set up a tree, we start playing Christmas music, and we begin our shopping because it somehow makes our hearts a little happier than they are the rest of the year. Instead of one month of holiday prep, how about two? Clearly, Thanksgiving is irrelevant compared to Christmas so we’ll just bypass the Indian and pilgrim celebration and invite back the fat man in a red suit.
As a society, we’ve let ourselves become so unhappy. Our world is full of negativity and strife that brings us down daily. We can’t turn on the television or read the news without something saddening our souls. So we love Christmas.
Although I do not personally fall into the category of Santa hat wearing, cookie baking, gift wrapping, “I LOVE CHRISTMAS” type of person (I’m actually more of a Grinch…sorry), I understand where everyone is coming from with the whole early holiday thing. It’s an internal and innate desire for compassion and joyfulness that most people think can only exist during the last few weeks of every year. And I think that it’s really sad that we forget how to extend that generosity and liveliness into the new year and beyond.
I've been working at the same place for 2 years and 9 months (but what actually feels like way too long) and, at this point, most of my coworkers are aware of my anxiety and panic attacks. Fortunately, in the past I've either been able to hide my panic attacks or call out of work on the days I felt anxious in order to avoid the dreaded attack. Also, the holidays are coming up, which means seasonal hires. Fresh faces and new friends who aren't aware of my issue and that I can totally catch off guard with my craziness.
So, about a week ago, I arrived at work for my closing shift and was immediately overcome with a sense of doom that was triggered by who knows what. I recognized the pounding heartbeat and shortness of breath and immediately went to the bathroom to try to calm myself down. My shift was starting in five minutes, and I began to become jittery and dizzy and it felt like a million fire ant were crawling over my arms and chest. One thing I've learned from these past few years with an anxiety disorder, is that panic attacks just need to run their course. There's no stopping it once it starts and you'll feel a heck of a lot better once it's over. So I told my manager on duty that I was in the midst of an anxiety attack and needed a few minutes. All I wanted to do was run out of the building but I was so light-headed and dizzy that I just sat down in the break room. Cue multiple awkward encounters with coworkers who just don't understand panic attacks...
1. "Um, I don't know what to say right now." - At this point, I do not even try to hide my mental state from people anymore. So obviously when my coworkers walked into the break room and saw me hyperventilating and shaking, they asked my what was wrong. "Oh I'm just having a panic attack, no biggie!", I'd blurt out. Then the looks. The confusion. The awkwardness. I actually had a coworker look at me in horror and say that he had no idea what to say, then turned around and walked out. I mean, sorry that I scared you away, but even if you could have, you probably wouldn't have said anything helpful anyway.
2. "Oh, shoot, okay, well, um, sorry!" - This one was actually pretty hilarious and if I wasn't trying to convince myself that I wasn't having a heart attack at the time, I probably would have laughed in his face. This particular coworker actually freaked out and stuttered and walked in a circle before turning back around and going right out the door. It was like I told him that I was about to grow another head or like he walked in on me changing or something. He couldn't leave quick enough, and to be honest, I don't think I saw him again for the rest of the night.
3. "Here! Drink water! Do you want some chocolate? Where's your water bottle? You just need to eat something. I'll get you whatever you want!!" - I swear, do not tell me what to do in a situation like this. Do not tell me to eat and do not tell me to drink. Food is the last thing on someone's mind when their parasympathetic nervous system is focusing on fight or flight. And plus, chocolate would only make it worse considering it has caffeine in it! And no, I'm not dizzy because I'm dehydrated. I appreciate your concern and I know that you think you're helping but you really, really aren't and I'm going to need you to leave. You can't water me like a withering plant and expect that my panic would just cease.
4. "Well what happened to start it? Everything is okay and there's nothing bad to worry about." - If anything should be taught to people about mental illness/anxiety/panic attacks it should be that telling someone that they do not have anything to worry about is the absolute worst thing you could say. Panic is a psychological response that tricks your body into thinking you're in danger, even when you aren't. In the midst of a panic attack, I could believe that the ceiling is about to cave in on me and 100% believe it and you telling me that it won't isn't going to change my mind. After the fact, I'll realize how insane it was for me to think that, but in that moment, I will be fully convinced. And most of the time, I have no idea what causes me to spiral out of control after being completely normal two minutes earlier. So, kind coworker, asking me that is only going to frustrate me more and cause me to feel even more crazy because I cannot explain why I'm acting the way I'm acting.
5. ***silence*** - Yes, thank you, please do not speak. Sit down next to me. Do not touch me. Just be there so I don't feel alone. Do not crowd me. One person at a time. If I do die, at least someone will be there with me. Do not offer me anything or tell me what to think. Sit there until I calm myself down enough to look at you and crack a joke or start a conversation. Let me babble to you about my fire ants or how I need to feel my pulse to remind myself that I am indeed not dying. Laugh when I laugh. Finally, someone got it right that day. Thank you for being a friend and loving me when I'm crazy and when I'm not. Sometimes it's best not to try to fix things, but to just accept them.
I guess the main lesson I learned that day is, next time, don't have a panic attack in the break room, where all of my coworkers are constantly walking in and out of. Sorry for freaking every body out.
As told by a Sports Authority cashier of two and half years
1. Hand the money. This is one of my absolute biggest pet peeves about being a cashier. Apparently I must have leprosy or some sort of other highly contagious disease that you are bound to contract at the mere idea of placing your money in my hand. It is extremely rude when you simply throw your cash on the counter, especially coins. Seriously, if you’re going to give me ninety-nine cents exact change, don’t count it all out and push it towards me and then watch as I slide each individual coin into my hand. I’ll do it nice and slow, taking my time, just for you. And don’t be surprised when I throw your change on the counter back at you.
2. Unfold your bills. For crying out loud, do not give me a folded or crumpled up wad of bills. Props to you for obeying number one and handing it to me, but you’re still going to have to watch as I unfold, smooth out, and face each bill. It also drives me crazy when your bills are upside down and all facing different directions, but that’s just my obsessive compulsiveness coming out, I can let it slide if and only if you place, in my hand, straightened out money.
3. Don’t force payment until I give you your total. On the contrary, please don’t place your credit card or one hundred dollar bill in front of me as I’m still unhanging, de-sensoring, and scanning your items. Usually the proper time to give payment is when payment is asked for. Also, what is up with you trying to slide your card before I’m done? I’ll just stand there folding your clothes as you repeatedly slide your card over and over waiting for a miracle to happen. My favorite thing to do is to let you put your card back in your wallet and then, after pressing total, kindly inform you that you slid your card too early. That’s what you get for trying to escape the checkout as if, once again, I am a diseased cage animal that you can’t bear to near for one second longer.
4. Do not ask for a discount. No we don’t offer military, senior, student, single-dad, broke mother, or handsome stranger discounts. (UPDATE: We do now offer a military discount, but the others are still a no-go.) No you cannot use my employee discount. And no I don’t keep a stack of coupons in my back pocket special for customers who lean over my counter and look under the register while asking if I have any coupons hidden back there. If you would like a coupon, try checking the Sunday paper, our website, or the hundreds of smart phone apps, all of which are means that we provide coupons from. Maybe put a little effort into the hunt and the reward will be a little sweeter. We’re not going to randomly give you a deal on our merchandise because you asked nicely. Even if the cashier thought you were the kindest person on the planet or wanted to try to score your number and a date that night, most of them do not even have the capacity to change the prices without getting a manager involved anyway.
5. Don’t be so cheap and selfish. Opposite to number four, don’t prance up to my register with a handful of coupons and demand to do separate transactions while there is a line of people behind you. For one, the coupons clearly state “one per customer” and for two, if you were behind someone doing the same thing, you’d be pissed yourself. I get it, times are tough, and if you have two ‘$10 off of $50’ coupons then you will save $20 and that could put dinner on the table tonight, but I really don’t want to be screamed at by the rest of the line for accommodating to your selfish needs. I will be more than happy to accept your second coupon and assist you in saving money if you are willing to ring up your first transaction and then get back into line for the second. Sorry, but you can’t save time and money.
6. Sign up for free cards. I cannot express this enough. SIGN UP FOR REWARDS PROGRAMS. It is free. It is worth it. You will save money. We reward you for being a loyal shopper and return 5% of what you spent back to you. How nice of us? Remember those coupons that you expected me to pull out of my magician hat? Well they would be conveniently sent to your email or home address. You know how you told me your whole life story and how you’re tight on money? Well this card would be returning some of that money back to you. Magic! It’s all the things you want but you are still so reluctant to take ten seconds to register. Seriously, I ask you four questions, type it all right into the computer, and boom, you’re done. I’ve heard your excuses a million times and I don’t like being lied to. You’re in a rush, you don’t shop here that often, you don’t want to get emails, you don’t want to carry a card, and here it is again, you don’t want to communicate with this low-life, 20-something, part-time cashier, because you’re clearly better than me in your suit and tie. Well sir, I apologize the next time I see you in here and you spend another $300 and you could have had free money to use on that purchase. Yes, we give you five bucks for signing up. That’s free money. If I handed you a five dollar bill you wouldn’t think twice about taking it, so what’s the problem? In addition, we are monitored on how many of these cards we sign customers up for per shift. We have to meet a certain percentage or else we get yelled at and written up. So we tirelessly waste our breath, reciting the same phrase to customer after customer, only to get turned down time and time again. Not only does this hurt our self-esteem and make us feel like a failure, but then those feelings are reinforced the next day when the report comes out and your store manager is scolding you because their district manage is scolding them. It’s bad enough that we’re at the bottom of the food chain and have to fear for our employment life, but when the shark comes along and attacks and leaves you with a half-eaten fin, then things really get rough. Now we’re injured prey and you as customers are the mean little kid tapping on the fish tank and poking your stupid little net at our wounds. Too much with the metaphor? I don’t care, this is how we feel.
7. Read the fine print. There are restrictions and exclusions on coupons and we cannot make an exception for you. Shocking, I know. Be aware of this before you come up to the counter and throw a giant fit of rage when I inform you that your coupon is not valid on this purchase and you demand to speak to my manager as if I’m some cruel, heartless witch out to make your shopping experience miserable. There is also some pretty clear, concise, and helpful fine print on the back of your receipts. There is a limit to how long you can keep your balled up shirt in the trunk of your car before you decide to return it. Don’t get angry when I can’t accept a receipt from last Christmas when it’s the middle of summer. Also, do you really expect me to take back those yoga pants that were clearly worn and washed and then believe you when you insist that the tag fell off when you tried them on? And how do you suggest I resell these Nike shoes that look like they were worn on a hike through the Amazon Rain Forrest and then tied to and dragged from the back of your car and then believe you when you insist that you only wore them to the store one time? Again, I really do not like being lied to, and I’m not stupid. I’ll call over my manager if that makes you happy, but she’ll tell you the exact same thing I just said. Go ahead, call corporate and throw a temper tantrum acting like a five year old because you didn’t get your way. Rules are rules, friend. We have policies for a reason. If you want me to return your worn shoes then don’t come asking for a discount next time when the new shoes you want to buy have dust on the soles.
8. Learn some manners. It all comes down to this; be respectful and kind. I know that your mother taught you how to be polite and she would be disappointed to see how you just treated your cashier. When I say, “Hi, how’re you today?” it’s usually socially acceptable to respond, not just stare at me like I have three heads, eight eyes, and purple hair. When you approach the cash register, please don’t be on your cell phone talking to your friend about how much of a jerk your boyfriend is or screaming at your assistant for not crossing every last task off their to-do list. If you need to finish this oh-so-very-important conversation, then I’ll be happy to place your items on hold while you step outside. It’s extremely frustrating when I have to ask you questions and you’re not even paying attention.
Bottom line, cashiers have feelings too. We are human beings and we don’t deserve to be treated like garbage because we work part-time, close to minimum wage jobs. Contrary to popular belief, we aren’t there to clean up after you, babysit your children as they play on our equipment, or believe that the customer is always right. Just a thought here, but maybe your shopping experience would be a little better if you acted like a grown freaking adult and learned how to respect other people.
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