Advice to a new head cashier

Large denominations are changeable,
but when you’re out of pennies and ones, you’re in real trouble.
It’s an existential life lesson, sure,
we’re all alone in the end,
but mostly, just make sure you have enough pennies and ones.

The ladies with Prada purses and Louis Vuitton wallets
don’t always expect you to make an exception for their returns.
The men in sweatshirts, old jeans and sneakers do– sometimes.
You’ll learn to ignore who’s buying porn and magazines about handguns.
People are just weird.

Every weekend and some Friday nights,
kids will run in the store and play on the escalator.
You will sound like every adult you ever hated who yelled “that’s not a toy,”
and you’ll grumble “where the hell are their parents” as you ring out each sale.
It’s okay.  I do it, too.

Milk chocolate bars, bags of cashews, plain almonds–
those sell like hotcakes.
Mixed nuts, raspberry dark, pre-orders of something we don’t have yet in stock?
Not so much.
But just like you love some of your family more than the others, push them all just the same.

People will always swipe before you’ve totalled them out.
There are those who never make eye contact.
You will have a day, at least once a month, when you will be the only person
to smile at your customer, or look them in the eye, or compliment them on their sweater.
Compliment them on their sweater– even if the customer before was a jerk and you’re feeling grumpy.

You can’t make everyone happy– often, it’s not even your fault.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still try.
It’s possible to spend every spare minute dusting or squaring off the displays,
restocking bestsellers and magazines.
It’s okay to chat, veg out, write poetry, too.

The book alarm system and the microwave in the cafe sound almost the same–
you’ll learn the difference quickly enough.
And– this is a biggie.  Just because they buy books,
doesn’t mean they have any taste.
We all mock the customers sometimes– after they’re gone.

You will always buy too many books.
Gift and news will always look like a war zone five minutes after you’ve tidied.
The bathroom’s through the middle, in the back.
Call the manager on duty before you go on your break.
Our membership program really is a good deal– and don’t we all want to belong?

Still, though– make sure you have enough pennies and ones.


3 thoughts on “Advice to a new head cashier

  1. bipolarbear

    I think that, working in retail, we have some serious power, being able to influence people’s mood, even if only in the slightest amount. You’re right; finding the littlest thing to compliment, giving a big smile, treat them like a *human* is something that they most likely wouldn’t expect, and may be just the thing they need to get them through yet another miserable day. Remember too, you don’t have to go home with them. They will eventually leave your sight.
    .-= bipolarbear´s last blog ..Gravity =-.

  2. Sherry

    Here’s a little something from a convenient store customer – me.

    I was in the back grabbing a soda, just about to walk up to the register, and what did I hear? That’s not exactly somebody’s iPod blaring that’s for sure. I stopped dead in my tracks and looked around the store. Nobody else. I stepped lightly until the register was in sight and peered at the cashier. He was serenading me! Ha!

    He was a local university student, voice major, rehearsing to an almost empty store! I made some easy comment to him about it not being exactly what I would expect on a Friday night in a candy store. We talked a while. He loved singing, he had a plan and he wasn’t afraid to belt one out, apparently in front of anyone. He even sang me another song. He was young enough to be my own kid, but it was very sweet, and not something I’ll likely forget – ever.


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