Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A guide to the almighty immaculate Customer

I am a cashier.  I am nothing more, and nothing less; I stand behind a screen at a cash register, I scan your groceries, I bag your groceries, and I take your money.  Because I've been working so much lately I've come to realize that I do in fact enjoy my job, to an extent - meaning that I've come to know myself as functioning better with explicit instruction and straightforward responsibility.  I certainly do not mean that I enjoy dealing with customers for long amounts of time, and the position itself is absolutely monotonous.  I'm lucky that I like the people I work with.

You might think to yourself that I am a good fit for a customer service job, and you would be wrong.  Yes, I can quickly switch on the smile and be so obnoxiously polite that it's nauseating, but so help me god I have to stop myself from yelling and swearing at some people.  Not that I have an anger issue - I suppose that actually might depend on who you talk to because I can think of at least a few people who would swear that I'm a raving aggressive psychopath - but I definitely do have a short fuse and it takes me little to piss me off completely.  I used to joke that I would never be suited to deal with people, and my parents and friends did agree, and yet regardless of my short fuse the switched-on smile came out during my job interview three years ago and I now find myself a bright ambassador of that above-and-beyond customer service my store guarantees during your visit.  Why, yes! - not only do I scan, but I smile.  Are you having a good day?  No?  Then smarten the fuck up because I'm personable, happy, and when I tell you to have a nice day when I'm done with you, do it.

From working as a cashier for so long, I've noticed trends in the sort of people who come through from day to day.  Again, due to my sudden influx of working hours (no complaints, the paychecks are gorgeous), I've only come to recently define these customers as the stereotypes of my day, and I'm sure if you've ever had a job similar or currently do, you will agree with me.

The Asian woman who doesn't speak English.  I do not mean to completely generalize, but I often get a handful of middle-aged to elderly Asian women who jab their fingers at me or their groceries and throw their change onto the conveyor belt out of reach from my large and uncoordinated fingers.  Nothing against them whatsoever - why, some are rather sweet.

The single man.  A staple of the lunch or dinner rush, either in a suit (clearly coming from work) or in some sort of activewear (clearly coming from whatever was so active about their life), the single men that come through seem to have this aura of being completely out of place from their grocery store surroundings.  They don't care how much it is, they don't care how I bag their groceries or if I even bag them at all; they want out.

The sweet elderly woman, man, or couple.  Nothing puts me in a better mood than the sickeningly sweet elderly person or people who brighten my day with a compliment or their general positive demeanor.  Meanwhile, the horrific elderly woman, man, or couple are the worst, because nothing beats a mean old person.  I've had a woman yell at me for not bagging her groceries properly, or old men treat me like I have caveman intelligence.  I dislike them, but then I remember they're old, so I feel bad.

The mumbler.  "Hi, how are you?" "mmmhmmpfhhmm."  If you are obviously mumbling, or if you don't answer or even attempt to acknowledge me whatsoever, I will probably by default not treat you with the same kindness as I do anyone else.  I try my best to be nice to the cashiers I encounter when I'm a customer, and I see absolutely no reason to mumble or be rude about a simple "I'm good, thank you;" in fact, I don't even understand why people in bad moods choose to go shopping anyways.  Stay at home and brood, you black hole.

The children who shouldn't be unaccompanied and often cannot count change.  I don't really like having really young kids as customers, and that sentence is horrific if you were to take it out of context.  What I mean is you usually get the kids who come through with handfuls of chocolate bars and coins that they haven't yet bothered to total.  I never quite know how to interact with these kids, because they act like I'm a scary yeti.

The bystander.  I understand that to bag one's groceries is part of my job, but I always appreciate the courtesy of help, especially if customers are extremely particular about how their groceries are packed - that being said they don't have to help me at all.  But if I have a line, and if the order is massive, it pisses me off to no end to see someone stand with their arms crossed watching me as I rush as fast as I can to complete their order.

The "that's-too-much!" complainer.  If you are aware that this particular grocery store in general does have higher prices, and that create your own salads are done by weight, do not get angry at me when your bloody salad comes to be over twenty dollars.  (by the way - I hate having serve yourself foods left to me because of the price being too much, because we can't do anything but chuck it)

And, the most frequent, the nice woman, who is, really, just a nice woman (with or without kids) who engages conversation and carries a positive disposition.  Take heed, and be that nice woman.

I've hardly begun to account for every sort of person I encounter: some are overly concerned with price, watching the screen like a hawk and refusing to forgive should I make a minor mistake; some are oblivious, leaving their keys and cards behind; some critique my packing skills and make and later blatantly repacks their groceries the second after I hand them the bag.  The joys of customer service.  I almost crave that mundane desk job if it means I'm to myself all day long.

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