Though I identify myself as a preschool teacher, my current “job” is cashier at a local grocery/department store chain. I have been compiling a list of tips for being a good shopper. I truly enjoy my job and, though I work with people (and that isn’t easy for me), my encounters are 30 seconds – 10 minutes long on average so those less-easy-to-work-with individuals go very quickly. I have, however, recognized certain irritations caused by customer habits.
From a cashier to you, the shopper, here are some ways you can make your cashier’s (and others around you) life easier.
*THE CLOCK IS TICKING. I am happy and eager to help you check your groceries. However, as soon as I scan that first item, an actual clock starts timing my transaction. Each item gets a certain amount of time it is supposed to take to ring it up and the computer is keeping track of my scan time as well as my total customer interaction. I am honestly happy to help those who need a little more. However, if it is physically possible for you to complete this task in a short amount of time, you are helping me keep my job. The following requests will help with this…
*PUT YOUR ITEMS ON THE BELT WHILE YOU ARE STANDING IN LINE. Most things have to be scanned across the belt, especially produce that has to be weighed. Please use your waiting time to put things on the belt instead of standing around until it is your turn. If you are using reusable bags, put those up first. I try not to start until I have somewhere to put things.
*LEAVE HEAVY ITEMS IN THE CART. We have snazzy magic wands that can scan barcodes from afar. Twenty pound bags of dog food and 12 packs of soda wear on our backs if we are twisting them around 20 hours per week. You probably don’t want to lift it up anyway, and neither do we.
*GET YOUR MONEY HANDY. You’re going to pay, right? You probably need your wallet or to have your card or cash in your pocket.
*READ YOUR COUPONS. Coupons are tricky. They might not be for what you think. Just because a coupon is hanging next to something, does not mean it is for that item. If you are buying baby formula, Pampers knows you have a baby, so they might hang a diaper coupon next to the formula to coax you to find their diapers. Also, coupons often exclude brands or sizes, so make sure the item you are choosing is not excluded by the fine print. It never hurts to ask, but if a coupon doesn’t work, the cashier can tell you why. We don’t write the coupons or program the computer, so please accept that a coupon might not work.
*CHOOSE YOUR ITEMS AND PUT BACK WHAT YOU DON’T WANT. No problem if you need to check a price or ask a question about something. However, if half of your cart ends up being things you need to put back, put them back.
*PUT THINGS WHERE THEY GO. As you are putting back the things you don’t want, put them where you found them. Do you have to walk all the way across the store to put it back? Go for a walk. Be responsible for your choices. If you are in a hurry or forgot about something until you got to the register, please PLEASE give it to the cashier instead of leaving it in a random place. Pansies obviously don’t belong in a bin of Twizzlers. If it is cold, leaving it elsewhere will make it go bad. Just give it to the cashier.
*IT’S NOT YOURS UNTIL YOU PAY FOR IT. If the baby is screaming or someone is having a health emergency, we completely understand if you need to break into the cereal bars or orange juice before paying for it. However, you know who you are. Just because you are hungry or something looks really good does not mean you can eat it. If you haven’t paid for it, you don’t own it and you are stealing by eating it. Paying for it after the fact is making restitution for a wrong, not an acceptable scenario for eating what is not yours. In addition, if you eat a banana, there is no easy way to charge you for that banana because it is sold by weight. You just stole a banana. The store might not say anything to you for doing this, but employees aren’t allowed to sample or open things before paying so this is evidence that the store does not think this is ok.
*DON’T CUT THROUGH LINES. People generally know not to “cut” in line, but it is not uncommon for someone to squeeze behind a full line of people and shopping carts to get to the restroom. It’s rude and invades people’s personal bubbles. If the lane is empty, come on through, no problem. But if there are people in line, go around. Yes, go all the way around all the registers. You need the exercise anyway.
*PEOPLE ARE WAITING FOR YOU. Other customers are waiting in line. When your items aren’t ready or you don’t know what you are doing or you didn’t read the signs or you don’t have your money out, other people are at your mercy. Please be prepared and as quick as possible. Remember, too, that the cashier is waiting on you, too.
However, if no one is in line and you have finished paying, take all the time you need. I’m not going anywhere and no clocks are ticking so I’m happy to chat or help you organize your stuff.