I don’t want to write about it

Sometimes, working in retail is soul-crushing and depressing. Sometimes, I just don’t want to write about it. I don’t have anything witty or intelligent to say. Sometimes my frustrations become an anger so exhausting, enunciating it seems empty and a foolish waste of my much-needed energy.

So, sorry I haven’t written lately. This cloud will pass; I know it will because it always does.

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can you cancel that out?

Today I would like to enlighten you.

The topic of this enlightenment session has to do with cash registers and their capabilities.

Different places of business have different types of cash register systems. The POS (or point-of-sale) system is fairly modern and commonly used in restaurants and retail establishments. You can often tell just by a glance at the unit the cashier is using if it is a POS system register– is it touch screen? Chances are, if the cashier is pushing things on the screen, it is.

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Having a POS system is highly beneficial, of course, as it makes transactions easier and can be used as an inventory tool (among many other benefits). However, such shiny new technology costs business owners a bit of extra money. Here is where some business owners use foresight and “big-picture” thinking to weigh the cost against the benefits of such an investment, and decide that it would be a good use of money. Other business owners (who are perhaps less aware of modern technology, financially stingy, or both) scoff at the idea of this investment, clinging to the belief that if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Those establishments have registers that might look something like this:

 

The register on the right is an example of the one we use at my place of employment. It is little more than a big adding machine. It doesn’t do any fancy algorithms or scan products. It doesn’t automatically adjust prices to current sales. It simply adds appropriate tax to items manually entered, creates a subtotal, and of course opens and shuts. It records each transaction on a roll of ancient register paper that looks exactly like that you’d use in an adding machine. These rolls of transaction records get rolled up and sent along to the book-keeper each and every day.

There are a few things that people commonly request that this register simply cannot do. One is printing itemized receipts. Old cash registers don’t recognize the items you are purchasing– they only recognize the numbers that the cashier is manually typing in. The receipt they print simply lists prices, tax and totals. They also state our return policy at the bottom and the date and time at the very top.

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heavy duty filing

Male customer: “Do you have files?”

Me: “Hmm… files for filing papers? Or do you mean metal files? Or nail files?”

Customer: “Nail files.”

Me: “Sure, come with me and I’ll show you.”

(I accompany customer to the emery boards. He looks confused and disappointed.)

Me: “Is this what you meant? For filing your nails?”

Customer: “Well, yes, but…” (rifles through some things that aren’t nail files)

Me: (reaches for some of the very standard, basic nail files) “Well here’s a good one. And that one is good too, it comes in a little disc so you can break off little sections–“

Customer, interrupting: “I need something stronger.”

Me: “Are you sure you don’t mean metal files? Here, let me show you where they are too.” (Maybe it’s just a semantics issue, I think, leading him to the metal files.)

Customer: “Oh yes, these are strong enough. But… they might break my nails.” (Stands there expectantly as if I might be holding back the knowledge of some other file we carry.)

Me: “So you’re just looking for something to file your nails with?”

Customer: nods

Me: “I can assure you that our nail files will do the job. These metal files are not intended for use on fingernails…”

Customer: “Those nail files aren’t strong enough.” (At this point I glance at his very normal, average hands. His nails appear to be in fine shape.)

Me: (pausing to think of any other possible solution) “The only other thing I can think of are these sandpaper blocks…”

Customer: “Hah! Sandpaper?! Why would I ever use sandpaper on my fingernails!?” (walks off shaking his head, laughing as if it was my suggestion that was crazy)

 

Time spent on trying to help customer: about five minutes.

Sales generated from this customer: zero.

Damage to my morale and my opinion of human beings as a whole: priceless.

 

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I will force you to see my butt crack.

One of the things that drive me completely crazy in life is when I’m aware that my lower back and butt crack might be showing.

Since I began my current employment, I’ve developed a habit of wearing long layering tank tops underneath whatever shirt I’m wearing just to avoid this feeling of exposure. I spend a good portion of my time at work bending down or squatting, stocking low shelves. Needless to say, the risk of unwanted butt-exposure increases ten-fold while doing duties such as this. Additionally, there seems to be a strange customer magnetism that occurs when I am crouching down in the most awkward of positions. I need to fill a floor-level bin with rolls of tape? Okay, there’s no one in the aisle… let me just nonchalantly get down on my hands and knees– oh, hello customer’s ass. Hello person standing behind me texting and mouth-breathing (ah, nothing like warm customer breath on your butt-crack).

Today was a very busy day in town. Spring break is here and the college students who haven’t gone home are being visited by their wealthy, out-of-state parents. Although there were certainly less drug-addled creepers being sketchy and inappropriate, the volume of rude and completely oblivious people was at a record high.

When I say “oblivious”, let me paint a word picture to accompany it: groups of forty-somethings who happen to know each other from somewhere far away and decide to have a raucous chat session about their exciting rich lives. Instead of standing somewhere slightly out of the way of other customers (and, ahem, the girl working her ass off hauling boxes at the back of aisle four), they plant themselves like large, noisy tree trunks directly in the spot I have to keep returning to in my shelf-stocking. “Pardon me,” I say with an innocent false apologetic tone.

Nothing.

“Excuse me.” I say. This box is starting to get really heavy. My injured wrist (on which I wear a very noticeable brace) is starting to strain and pull and I fear I’m going to drop everything.

Nothing, except a languid comment about the weather here, or a scoffing joke about one of our products.

Fine, I’ll just use force. I barge into their gab-session with my box and place it right down where it needs to go.

They all flinch as if I’m infected with something. Do they offer any sort of half-assed apology for using my work space as their country club away from home? Of course not.

I’m not one to demand apologies, especially for honest oversights. So they were standing in my way, big deal. It’s just that look of contempt that registers in their eyes when I have forced them to acknowledge my presence… forced them to acknowledge that this little store, this little town, this little life they’re partaking in, doesn’t exist merely to accommodate them. That’s what bothers me.

But about the exposure problem. Despite what I just said about these swarms of tourists and their apparent blind-eye to the lowly retail worker, if they were forced to see my ass crack up close and personal I know their chatty moods would plummet into irritation born from disgust and would therefore become “problem customers”. It’s really amazing how their moods effect the atmosphere of the entire store.

So, of all days, I chose a to wear no tank top underneath my t-shirt. Then, my old ratty belt sort of just turned itself inside out and gave up. I had to throw it away and finish the work day with a t-shirt that kept riding up, a pair of jeans that kept riding down, and an extra surge of hatred for the rich people who who stand in my way.

 

 

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the great bag dilemma

Scenario One:

Me: “Would you like a bag?”

Customer: “AbsoLUTEly not! I do not use plastic bags, ever. Here, load these things into my reusable bag.” (Hands me a crusty, almost unidentifiable handful of a shopping bag. I pretend to not understand English.)

Scenario Two:

Me: “Would you like a bag?”

Customer: “Psh! Psh! Uh, yeah! How else am I supposed to carry these two greeting cards? Don’t you know I’m walking?”

Scenario Three:

Me: “Would you like a bag?”

Customer: (Silence)

Me: “Ahem. Would you like a bag today?”

Customer: (Acts offended that I interrupted their thoughtful reverie about whether or not to take a bag, as the line behind them is multiplying) “Yes. Wait, no! Well, yes…”

(Really? Is your life THAT boring and pointless that whether or not to take a bag at a store is a decision that takes you more than twenty fucking seconds?)

Scenario Four:

Me: “Would you like a bag?”

Customer: “If it’s possible! I mean, if you have one!”

(Why would I offer you a bag if there were none?)

Scenario Five:

Me: “Would you like a bag?”

Customer: “Sure, a little one if it’s not too much.”

(It’s honestly not any easier or harder to grab a SMALL bag as opposed to a MEDIUM bag. Yes or no will fucking work you idiot.)

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when will you be getting more osama bin laden ice hockey figurines?

I’m standing behind the register, busy with various odd tasks, when I look up and notice a rather cranky looking old man who has been aimlessly wandering the store for a while now.

Me: “Is there anything I can help you find today, Sir?”

Disgruntled old man:  “HWHERE… are your Osama bin Laden playing ice hockey figurines?” he slowly sputters.

Me: (stammering a bit) “Our… what? I’m sorry Sir, we don’t carry anything like that.”

Disgruntled old man, as he’s walking away shaking his head in disgust: “I was told you had them here. I came all the way out here for them.”

I watched as he shuffled out of the store, disappointed and probably way past his afternoon nap time. You see, if that was a joke, it was a damn good one… delivered in perfect annoyed-customer deadpan… but something tells me this man was really looking for these non-existent hockey playing terrorist dolls and was actually angry about the whole ordeal.

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The Snarky Cashier

Hello, world.

Allow me to introduce myself. I am The Snarky Cashier, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: my real name is Megan. And that, my friend, is all the personal information you’re going to get out of me.

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I work in a lovely little store on Main Street called… yeah right.

Here’s a little bit about the store:

  • although frequently referred to as a “junk” or “crap” store, it is actually a phantasmagoria of sights, sounds and even smells offered at severely reduced prices to the (less) discerning customer! Why so cheap? We sell only closeouts and overstocks. Whatever that means.
  • my boss is a very strange man. I have yet to decide if he’s just an unbalanced man with the best of intentions, or a malignant tycoon with an evil plan.
  • all of my co-workers are female in a way that’s obviously purposeful but somehow rarely addressed, and one of them is my sister. All of them are my friends.
  • our customer base is just fascinating! This town is full of interesting weirdos. Lots of aging (and, I’m guessing) mentally ill hippies, homeless drunks, pretentious upper-class tourists, Portlandia-esque vegans and yoga families, an ever-changing array of junkies, and most importantly, more over-educated people per square mile than you would believe.
  • our products are often bizarre. Some examples: dismembered but anatomically correct baby doll parts, dental tools, skin bleaching kits, duct tape in every color of the rainbow, t-shirts for middle-aged women, Jesus and Mary nightlights, baseball cards from the late 80’s, scraps of lambs wool, pregnancy tests, safety goggles, “muffin fans”, condoms in all varieties, irregular underwear, etc.

Now, I’m no good at planning out how I’ll use blogs. I’m actually pretty bad at even sticking to a theme. But alas– this blog is to be dedicated solely to the befuddling absurdities I face (sometimes) willingly each and every day.