Sometimes, she feels like an air traffic controller, and wishes that instead of the Head Cashier phone she most times does not carry (too heavy, too clunky, and most days, well, eh, she just doesn’t need it and the ringing of the lines she does not have to answer is just plain annoying) she had a little headset and radio, because she sure does a lot of waving and pointing and hey, she could make it look cute.
Either that, or she’s an aerobics instructor with a group of particularly recalcitrant students, because they just kind of stare before wandering off.
Up, way off to the left, for Bibles, New Age and biographies. (Yes, sir, memoirs are there, too. Yes, they’re like autobiographies. Really. I promise.) Over the cafe. Way over there? See– where the man in the cap’s pouring coffee? It’s right above that. You just need to go upstairs and then head over the cafe. How? Well– (move arms back toward the middle, point more) the stairs and escalator are here, in the middle. (Like, RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE, because it’s the first thing the unattended toddlers run for.)
Bathroom? One arm elegantly (well, she thinks so, she did paint her nails) points– “between the stairs and the escalator, all the way back through the kids, to the left of the elephant.”
Percy Jackson? Harry Potter? Warriors? Twilight? Those would be in Favorite Series or Teen, all in the kids’ section in back, straight back on the right behind the bargain bays– and her arm points straightly forward, jutting commandingly that way. The interrogators look confused. “Bargain?” ask they.
“Yes. Those signs, there, where it says ‘Bargain’? Favorite series and Teen are right behind that.”
“Ah.” They head off, ignoring the giant display areas she’s just pointed toward. Readers. Deaf, dumb and blind.
“Study aids?” Words indicate the use of the escalator, followed by an arm hook to the right, a hand flap walk midway through the freestanding aisles of the store, and then stop.
“Art and collectibles?” The well-manicured hand points merely up. Same thing for coins, home-improvement, photography.
“Over the door?” This one is funny. People always look up, like they’re expecting the whole section to come crashing down on them, right then and right there. They also say “Oh, you moved it.” Well, yes, they did– but before I came to the store, and that was last September, you see. Apparently change is never allowed. Ever, you see.
Then there’s the bustle of bringing up boxes of register tape, bringing down tills at the end of the day, the lift-one-two-three of baskets of books over the counter from shoppers buying lots of books and do-you-have-a-membership-sir (It’s our exercise mantra, repeat it in time with your breathing) and the wrestling of boxes of bags onto the shelves so that each register’s got enough supplies to suffocate a small army.
“Don’t you have paper?”
God, no, we don’t have paper bags. Do you know how much that shit would weigh to carry up the damned stairs?
Sure, we’ve got hand trucks and v-carts and other carrying carts, but one or two at a time when we need them, it’s quickest to carry, fastest to bust her butt down to the basement and get that register paper because of course Cafe and three and five are all out at the same time so she’s got to cannibalize six and four for paper for them to use in the meantime and then while she’s gone, there are three people wanting returns all stacked up in the line, so that twenty pound box she lugged up the stairs is just going to wait while she, now lightly sweaty, turns smiling to say– “How can I help you?”
No reciepts, sure. No problem. (Hah, hah.)
And then there’s the older fellows and ladies, the ones who want that one book and stop off at her cashier station rather than go on upstairs because– well– they’re frail and old and maybe they know her and then, too, there’s the fact that perhaps the person working customer service that day is not the best one of the lot. So the elderly-frail asks for a book and she knows just where it is and there’s no one in line. If she calls up to the desk, there’s a 50-50 chance the assigned person’s not going to be there, regardless, and if she does call, they’ll take a longer time than it will if she–
… she’s up the stairs and back down with the book from the New in Hardcover Bay faster than it takes her brain to decide. It’s a pretty small store for a chain, after all. The desk person didn’t even look up from their task.
That done, it’s time to re-do the gift cards, the ones brought up in a small series of boxes because the cart they’re all on is a beast and pushing it up on the elevator, navigating it through the gauntlet of kids (“Do you work here?” has got to be the world’s dumbest question. No, she’s just randomly pushing a cart full of ill-balanced colorful boxes of gift cards for kicks through narrow aisles full of people who won’t get out of her way no matter how many times she says excuse me, because this is what she means when she calls it the gauntlet of kids), and those are all balanced on arms like juggling balls and other accoutrements. The gift card displays, see, they’ve got to be up to standard, and that means certain patterns and that means LOTS of selections of cards which means PLEASE SIR DO NOT TOUCH HER ON THE SHOULDER WHILE SHE IS HOLDING THESE BOXES BECAUSE NOW THEY WILL SPILL ALL OVER THE FLOOR AND THEN, ESPECIALLY THEN, DO NOT LOOK AT HER LIKE THE DUMBFUCK THAT YOU ARE.
And then, please don’t ask her your question while she’s cleaning up. Puh-leaze.
“The information desk is at the top of the stairs.”
“But I want to ask you,” says the unhelpful, gift-card spilling jerkface.
“Sir, I am busy.” Turns her back, squats, and the calisthenics begin all over again. “The information desk is at the top of the stairs.” For good measure, with good flexibility, and while scooping some of the cards back into their boxes, she throws one arm over her shoulder, thumb toward the escalator, pointing in the perfect direction.
Don’t even get her started on the bend-twist-flap-insert three-hundred-thirty-five times on average of each bag insert for each book transaction when she bends down to go get a bag and a leaflet insert, or the tennis– NO– cashier’s elbow she’s going to have from all the serious muscles in her right hand from all that hand-keying and card swiping. The cans she can crush with her right hand, people. This shit is (not) serious, yo.
By all rights, she should be built like Linda Hamilton in T2. She’s not, but a customer did compliment her hair just the other day, so hey– she’ll take what she can get. And in the meantime? Her calves are SOLID.