Okay, so it’s an established fact that I’m going to college. It’s almost all I ever seem to talk about in my posts, which makes sense as being a student is pretty much my life. But, thanks to a little thing called “federal work-study”, studying isn’t something I do 24/7. I get an allocation of $1000 a semester and I get the opportunity to earn every single bit of it as a stocker/cashier at the campus’ convenience store.
Now, before this devolves into the inevitable “here’s a list of the types of customers that grind my gears” post (because, yes, this is indeed a typecasting rant; I even made a list while I was working and everything!), let’s get something straight: I love my job. It may not be the highest-paying, or the most prestigious, or a job that I can network in to the fullest with people like the President of the University or one its many provosts, but you know what? It’s a nice break from all the brain-based busywork. It’s not my usual day-to-day fare. There are no reduction half-reactions, no titration calculations, no amino acid structures I have to memorize because, really, they’re just going to show up again somewhere else. It’s just me in an orange T-shirt, black slacks, and relatively nice shoes, standing behind a counter or bustling hither and thither, getting stuff done. It’s just…there is something almost soothing about my job. Sure, it can be physically demanding but that’s fine. Again, it’s a break from thinking. Plus, I didn’t need to go through the hassle of making and checking and editing a resume (though I should probably learn what I need to do for that for later). Just the background check and making sure that my vaccinations are all up-to-date and I’m good to go. The hours are steady and flexible, my boss is pretty chill when I need some time off for exams or whatever, and I’ve found that I can socialize with people pretty well from behind the counter. It’s something that I enjoy doing, though it’s not my dream job (obviously).
That being said, yes, people can be idiots. Maybe it’s because of the counter or the T-shirt or just people’s view of other people whose job it is to cater to their every need (pretty much) in general. But it cannot be denied that there is this intangible something that sort of changes people. Were I to meet these people out of uniform, they’re just normal. Polite, respectful, average, ordinary people. But when I’m in the middle of a shift, I tend to encounter these types of people, among others. Take a look and, please, try to avoid doing this when you’re out and about. I feel like this is especially relevant because it’s so close to Black Friday, which I’m going to guess sees behaviors that are much, much worse than these. I’m just glad that I don’t work in major retail chains.
The people that put their cash on the counter as they count it out and then slide it over to me: It sounds stupid (because it is) but it’s not a shift without getting two or three of these people on a normal weekend. This number tends to increase when there are other events going on around campus, though this can possibly be attributed to the number of people that actually use cash increasing as well. The usual form of payment is through the school’s meal plan system, which requires students to swipe their cards into the slightly fickle card reader. But bust out the cash and odds are good that they’ll count it out on the counter and then slide the pile over to me. It’s irritating, though I’ve grown used to it by now. If I had to say why, it’s probably because it makes me feel like I’m not a person. I’m just a thing standing by the till, a machine that is overly qualified to scan items and open the register.
The people who are so eager to start their transaction, they can’t wait until the person in front of them is done before setting their stuff on the counter: Yeah. Again, it happens a lot more often than you think. A lot. This isn’t so much “irritating” as it is “embarrassing” for me; I can’t do a damn thing about it. I can’t tell the eager beaver to curve their swerve. I can’t tell Molasses Mike to hurry it up so that the next customer in line can be helped. So what do I do? Just stand there awkwardly after saying “Have a nice day” to the person who is still putting their wallet away while reaching over to the other person for their items. Maybe I’m overly sensitive, but yeah. It’s annoying, it’s rude, and it’s definitely awkward (for me at least).
People who take my usual “How are you?” as an invitation to stand there and spill their life story for the next few minutes: I am not a bartender. I wish I was, because that’d be a kickass job-that-got-me-through-college and because I’m sure that it would make for some interesting stories to swap back and forth when I’m old and gray. However, I still try to be social, even on days when I kind of wish that everyone would piss off or after several back-to-back customers who saw fit to buy a crap-ton of drinks each. It’s what I’m paid to do, sell things with a nice manner, and I’d like to think that I’m damn good at what I do. But then you have these folks who clearly have something troubling them, something that they need to get off their chest. I empathize with them, sure, but what I say behind the counter is shop talk, plain and simple. If you need to talk, catch me after my shift and I’ll be more amenable to listen to what you have to say. Or, y’know, go see a therapist. Talk to your friends. Write, draw, sing, whatever. Just don’t take advantage of the fact that I have to look interested because you’ve caught me behind the counter, okay? It’s not genuine and that’s not fair to you or me.
(P.S. You may want to take a breather right about now. This is turning out to be one of my longer posts, unsurprisingly. I just have a lot I want to say about this particular topic and I thought it would be fair to warn you. Carry on.)
People who mumble and, alternatively, people who are rather loud: Well, if this doesn’t make me seem like an overly sensitive bitch, nothing will. But, yes, I’m personally not fond of mumbling or yelling from customers. They’re two sides of the same coin. If you mumble, I won’t be able to hear you and, as a result, I don’t know what you want. Don’t be afraid to tell me if you did want or bag or didn’t, if you were using two different cards to pay with, or even if you wanted to swap out a flavor of yogurt with another because you changed your mind. It’s okay! You’re human; you’re allowed to change your mind if you want to. But then you have the people that are overly boisterous; I tend to have a bit of an issue with people who tend to mill around, chatting with friends in relatively loud voices or customers who bark orders at me and expect me to scurry about. I’m not gonna scurry. I’m not gonna just let this pass quietly. I will glare daggers at you until you leave. I will gladly take my sweet time while putting your stuff in the bag. And you wanna know why? Because it’s what makes me feel better, being passive-aggressive about things that won’t even matter once you go on your merry way, companions in tow. And good riddance.
People that can’t quite seem to comprehend that you’re in the middle of work: Actually, I should amend this to “friends that seem to forget that you’re working at the moment and can’t go off and do stuff at your own whims”; this isn’t a problem that I come across at all with people that I am not close to in my everyday life. So, what usually happens is that I’ll be standing behind the counter, doing what I’m supposed to do, and then in walks one of my more affectionate friends. Admittedly, I inwardly groan, bracing myself for any possibility of awkward contact while I’m on the clock. This isn’t to say that I dislike it when friends drop by to shop while I’m working and, hell, I’m usually the one calling out to them and making not-shop talk because, yes, they are indeed my friends. But there are a couple people who are…rather fond of physical contact. As in they are known to walk behind the counter (where they should never, ever be) to give me a hug whether I want to be hugged or not. Hugs while I’m not at work? Sure; just ask me because it’s not a guarantee that I’ll be 100% comfortable with hugging you. I dunno, I’m just weird about hugs like that. But at work? Unless I like you a lot (a LOT) and I feel like it, it’s safe to say that you’d be better off just leaving me be. I’m already feeling like I’m being trodden on (particularly towards the end of my shift), at least let me keep a shred of my humanity, of my ability to choose. This sounds stupid because, c’mon, it’s just a hug! But at the same time, I don’t like it when people assume what I want, when they choose for me, when they decide that I’m getting a hug whether I want it or not. Don’t invade my personal space; at times, it’s all I’ve got left, alright? Ask first. And don’t get butthurt if I say no, just respect my decision.
People who come up to the counter with the intent of setting their things down and going off to grab something else: No. Just…stop that. Please! We have baskets for a reason! We have, literally, ordered more baskets in an attempt to curb this tendency for people to wait in line with their things in tow, walk up to the counter, set their things down, and then say something to the effect of “Oh! I’m gonna grab something else too. Just really quickly. Is that okay?” No, suffice it to say that it is not okay. You were waiting in line the entire time; surely you could have double-checked that you had everything then! If you’re one of these people, then do me a favor the next time you’re even contemplating about pulling this shit off: look behind you. For every person that is waiting for your dumb ass to finish, I am just that much more angry and embarrassed for you. This is definitely a way to not endear yourself to me, to be so utterly insensitive to other people that have been waiting just as you have and then some because of you. If I had to say that I hated someone, it would probably be someone who does this consistently. Bonus points if said person is also a puppy-kicker or believes firmly in Creationism. All I’m saying is that, if you have to browse through our humble shop, go for it. Take that extra time to know what you want. Just, please, don’t be that asshole that holds up the line. I will use my ability to send you packing with your stuff to the back of the line until you’re actually damn good and ready and it won’t be pretty. I’m not a big fan of confrontation, though I can hold my own if need be.
People who seem to be joined at the hip or, at the very least, their wallets: This is more than the whole “wah, I’m single and jealous” thing. I can admit it; I am slightly jealous of the couples that walk into our shop, holding hands and giggling about something or other. It’s definitely envy and at the same time I find myself smiling at their heart-warming antics. It’s a very strange combination, but whatever. I can deal with that. What I don’t like to deal with are those couples, where one partner seems to have latched onto their significant other like a kind of leech. I know, I’m judging them based on how they shop and not how they behave together or something with more significance than who is actually paying for their groceries. But, personally, I’d want someone who can take care of these kinds of things for themselves. Fuck, were I ever to get married, my SO and I would probably have separate banking accounts; I’ll share my life with you just fine, just back off of my financial matters. Again, I’m not fond of being told what to think or do unless I explicitly solicit such advice. And, even then, I’ll probably ruminate on the advice given before either rejecting it completely or agreeing to follow it. But where was I going with this? Oh, right; when one person pays for their boo and the boo is kind of a dick about it. I’m all for pragmatism, but surely that can’t be the only reason you’re together. Surely it’s not because they have the Platinum meal plan and you have Silver, right? Or do I have this outdated idea of just what constitutes a viable relationship? I blame Sailor Moon for my unrealistic, overly dramatized views on love in the latter case.
People who are actually way too considerate: I’m touched when people are considerate to me at work. Really. Nothing warms my heart as much as the unexpected nice person who comes in, gets exactly what they need, is polite in their manner, and then leaves the shop satisfied. It makes me proud and puts a smile on my face, to be sure. But then you have people who take it too far. These are the people who absolutely insist on turning their items to make it easier for me to scan them. Here’s the thing: not only are you doing my job for me, you’re doing it wrong. By the time you manage to position one of your things to be just so, I could have scanned the lot and been that much closer to finishing the transaction. It’s not that I don’t appreciate what you’re trying to do, but unless you’ve either been doing this for as long as I have or it’s just the one or two items in your hand, you’re better off letting me handle it. I have memorized how to turn things to get to the barcodes quickly. I have my own internalized way of opening the plastic bag. You’re attempting to be polite (which is very flattering) but, really, give me and my muscle-memory some credit. Just put down your things and let me take care of it for you while you get your card or your cash ready to go.
And, for fuck’s sake, don’t slide your cash or card over the counter to me. That’s just being rude. I am a person, be it in uniform or not. Treat me as such and you’ll be making all of our lives just that much better. That’s it.