I really don’t know how anyone could ever think that working in a supermarket would be boring. People say that it’s a low job, and that being a cashier is for people who are uneducated, stupid, to young or lazy to do anything else. That is not necessarily true at all. While there are some like that, there are also some like me, who are highly intelligent but ended up there due to a complicated series of events and are grateful for their job and wouldn’t rather be doing anything else.
Ok, so maybe I am one of the few who look forward to going to work (as in while some people like it there, they’d rather stay home/ enjoy the weather, but they have to go to work), but I’m most certainly not the only employee who enjoys the store, the atmosphere and the people and I’m definitely not the only intelligent person, or the only there by choice.
During the average eight-hour-shift, the average cashier at Z’s checks out about 500—a rough estimate—people if not many more (depending on the day and how many cashiers there are). Right there are 500 chances of something interesting happening, many more actually, due to the interesting things that some of the staff members are capable of. The amount of people that walk in and out of a supermarket every day adds to the chances of weird, interesting and eccentric.
As one of my coworkers likes to say; “Never a dull moment”.
One of the best examples of weird and eccentric is the Toilet Paper Lady (otherwise known as N, but TPL is a nice name for her) who comes to the store twice a day if not more to purchase at least one package of four rolls of store brand toilet paper. She rants and rambles at the cashiers and baggers, as well as anyone else who will listen. She reports whose fly was down, why she really needs to go to the post office, when she last brushed her teeth, and doesn’t see why no one else buys as much toilet paper as her. She’s concerned because there are steroids in her nasal spray, and she tends to give TMI reports of her doctor’s visits.
Once, TPL was using the restroom (a daily occurrence, despite her living right across the street. She usually goes in for a good hour, causing many customers to complain). She’d finished up and was washing her hands when there was a knock on the door. She let the woman in—a woman who TPL later informed me was Jewish and had mental problems—and proceeded to stay in the restroom (no stalls, there’s a toilet and a sink and some standing room and a small table) and talk while the woman did her business. She believed that it was completely normal.
“There are three things we can always count on: Death, taxes, and N coming to the store.” She told my coworker this once, and he, a character in his own right, recites it every time he sees her.
Once, TPL asked me what the last name of T—one of the baggers that she likes to talk to—is. I asked why it matters, and she answered very matter-of-factly that she wants to know what her last name will be when she marries him. When he heard of this, T told me that he thinks he should probably go live in another country.
The former Vice President of the Company suggested that maybe she likes to eat toilet paper. Another higher up, the sister of the owner who works in Accounting has said “I don’t care how big her ass is or how crazy she is, one does not need that much toilet paper.” At one point, TPL actually did inform me as well as some of the others that she uses it for everything, but still that would not amount to the quantities that she buys.
Some are interesting, some are crazy, some are nice, some are evil, but most aren’t boring.
Pineapple Guy has only been spotted once, the time that he bought at least 75 cans of pineapples at my register (that’s no exaggeration; I had to count them off as I voided them, seeing that they rang at the wrong price). My friend and coworker, who was bagging for me at the time, discusses him quite often. She seems to think he was a one hit wonder.
Tomato Lady has appeared at my register at least four times. She always has two bags of tomatoes, each a different kind, and wants each bag price-checked, then she usually asks for a tomato to be removed from each. She separates the order on two debit cards.
First time I saw the Lebanese man, age approximately 80, he claimed jokingly that I was making too much noise, and then asked me out on a date. Every time I’ve seen him since he either proposes or asks me out. Just recently he returned from an extended vacation to Florida. He saw me as I was coming in from break, put down his bags and gave me a huge hug and asked who’s making all the noise and if I want to marry him now.
B gave up on hitting on one of my coworkers, so he now hits on me. Not as jokingly as the Lebanese man, but he tends to say how beautiful I am, and comment that he likes my hair. He originally thought that I was 20 years older than I am, but that would still make me far too young for him. He’s about 75, but insists that he’s 67. He complains about how his brother died and his dog died. Just this week he insisted that women NEVER eat green onions. Like TPL, he comes every day because he only buys what he needs for that day. He makes me quite uncomfortable, but there isn’t much that can be done.
There’s a really sweet Russian lady, who when I ask how she is, she always answers “Old”, and blows me a kiss as she’s leaving.
Recently, I had a man who likely suffered from some form of dementia or Alzheimers. Once his tuna, beer and bread were bagged, he asked repeatedly, maybe 50 times, if he remembered to buy them.
Tuesdays tend to bring in more weirdos than any other day for some unknown reason. One Tuesday in May, an older, well-dressed African-American woman approached my register with a friend. As I was ringing her items, she matter-of-factly stated that she has something on her shoe. I nodded, already slightly amused seeing that she didn’t look like the sort who would randomly announce such a thing. She then proceeded to remove her shoe and turn it over to reveal a wad of dog shit. That however, was not the end of it. She asked for a paper towel, wiped it off, and then tried to hand me the paper towel to throw away. I stated that I’m not putting it in my trash, and had her give it to my oblivious bagger to throw into the large garbage can. The woman looked absolutely appalled at my tone of refusal, as did her friend. As they were leaving, I told my bagger that he doesn’t want to know what was on that paper towel, but he should use hand sanitizer, then go wash his hands as soon as physically possible.
It can be tiring and the days can be long; some customers are aggravating, some coworkers are hard to deal with, but rarely ever is there a day that something new and interesting doesn’t happen. Even on the most exhausting, tedious days, there’s always a bit of light, even if it’s just the way a coworker says good morning to me, or one of the customers who claims that he’s doing great because he sees my smile.
The people who don’t look for the positive side and appreciate the little things are those who are constantly bitter and wonder why their life is so terrible and why nothing good ever happens. They aren’t friendly, they don’t like anyone, and they scare people and carry negative energy wherever they go.
I was like them once, similar at least; I was much, much different until I found this job. It has changed me only for the better, and I thank God for it at every possible opportunity. I can now be one of the people that I’ve always wanted to be; the one who smiles, is nice, tries her best to be patient and look at the good side of things. I’m still too intense, I take things too hard, am paranoid and afraid. I’m nowhere near perfect, but I’m learning to accept that.