Time for change


I was a teenage supermarket cashier. It’s typically a girl’s job, I know, but I’ve always been a pioneer in smashing traditional gender roles. Also, it paid more than being a bag boy. Actually, my store had a lot of male cashiers, since we did more heavy lifting than in a lot of other stores. No less than four generations of males in my family have worked for the same company in the grocery business; my father and grandfather worked for National Grocers on the distribution end, while I worked at a Your Independent Grocer franchise and my nephew worked at the Loblaws superstore that succeeded my store when the big box stores started taking over from the malls.* (He inherited some of the same dead-end co-workers I’d had about 15 years before.)

David Letterman was also once a supermarket cashier, something that comes up whenever he has winners of grocery bagging competitions on his show and wows the crowd with some of his showy packing tricks. I wouldn’t underestimate the value of that job in preparing him for his current line of work; it undoubtedly gave him some experience with being in the public eye and bantering with strangers, as it did for me. I learned a few other tricks of the trade too, such as how to artificially raise my items-per-minute stat by ringing in one $2.99 item as 299 items @ 1¢ each, or how to get extra pocket money for my coffee breaks by ringing in coupons in return for cash.

The point is, having spent five years in a grocery store, I know how the job is done. The cashier at the Loblaws I visiters tonight did something that’s annoyed me for years, and it’s so prevalent that I can only assume they’re being trained that way. When handing me my change, she piled it atop the receipt and deposited the whole thing in my outstretched palm. I don’t know what they expect me to do here — perhaps, crumple the receipt around the coins and jam the whole bundle into a pocket? What frequently happens is that the coins slide around awkwardly or even get dropped as I try to get them into my wallet or change purse. (Yes, I have a little change purse, but I made it myself out of duct tape, so it’s manly.) When I was in the business, I made a point of handing the customer the change first, then the receipt; often, I’d ask if they wanted me to just put the receipt in the bag. That’s where the customer is usually going to stick it anyway.

I’ve decided I’m not putting up with this anymore. But aside from paying by Interac every time, I’m not sure what to do here. I can politely but firmly ask to be handed my change first. Or, instead of extending an open palm to receive it, maybe I’ll stick my hand out more sideways, as though offering a handshake. That way, I can pluck the receipt away with thumb and forefinger, and then turn my palm upward to take the coins. (I may also print out copies of this post, to be distributed to every cashier I encounter. I haven’t decided.)

Anyone else annoyed by this? Or am I the only one clumsy enough to have problems receiving change. Maybe I just panhandle, just to get the extra practice.

* In keeping with the theme of the previous post, my store was actually partially replaced by a Shopper’s Drug Mart.

7 Responses to “Time for change”

  1. 1 Peter VK

    Oh god yes. Every damn time I buy something, I get the notes back with a receipt first, then they plonk down a bunch of coins in my palm, like I’m going to chuck the whole bunch into a large bag and stroll away. I used to work at a newsagent, and even then I felt like an asshole if I went to tell some other worker to put coins first. It’s so simple. You get the coins first, wrap your palm around them, then grip the bills/receipt with your fingers. But 9/10 cashiers haven’t got their shit together.

    As a customer I don’t know what to say either. I feel like the cashier will just sneer and mumble an apology (at best), and won’t take this very important issue with any seriousness. Please figure something out.

  2. Gah, totally! It is such a pain when there is cash involved that you want to put in your wallet.

  3. My big pet peeve is plastic bags. I usually bring my own cloth bags from home, because I’m a smelly hippy that bakes my own bread. But I do forget them sometimes and have to take the store bags. Why is it that every single item seems to need its own bag? I’ve recently taken to repacking my groceries to use less bags and then handing back the extras.

  4. My grandma used to bake her own bread down on the farm… is she a smelly hippy, too?

    I just use my Visa at the local Food Basics. No coins to worry about, and a cool 3% of my purchases go towards a new GM car, sometime in the future.

  5. At the Wendy’s here, change is automatically deposited into a small bowl or something at the end of the register, and all the cashier needs to do is fork over the bills (not quite literally, thank goodness). The customer doesn’t have to engage in distasteful contact of greasy grubby fingers or put up with receipt fiasco courteously outlined by yourself in the above blog.

    Methinks there’s a downside to this here getup, an’ it be education. A lot of people are already dumb as posts. (I don’t generally like to call people dumb because people aren’t dumb, but the people I call dumb exhibit a marked lack of interest towards actually learning. In day to day life, there’s a whole hoard of information, skills, and some other jazz you can pick up and make it a part of yourself. The people who don’t exhibit that spark, that flare, that glint, are dumb). So can posts get any dumber? But I’d like to think they can get smarter, whether they like it or not, if they gotta count out the coins themselves.

  6. 6 Mully

    “(Yes, I have a little change purse, but I made it myself out of duct tape, so it’s manly.) ”

    Hahahahahahahaha *gasp* Hahahahahaha

    When I was was a supermarket cashier (in my school days), I used to count the change back to the customers. That’s virtually unheard of in these days of electronic cash registers.

  7. 7 Teaflax

    I think this is done by cashiers who have some sort of phobia about touching too many people. The ones that do it to me, tend to drop the change into my hand from a few inches up if I don’t want the receipt (I live in a small town, so you can notice such trends). Try wearing gloves (this advice goes for both you and the bacteriophobic cashiers)

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