If you have less than 10 items, stay out of the regular checkout line

There will be teenagers rummaging around the house this weekend and heaven forbid, even if the fridge is stocked to capacity, someone will inevitably say, “There’s NOTHING to eat!” Therefore, I donned one of my new stylish scarves to cover my shaved head and went to the grocery store this afternoon with my sweetie to pick up some items that should garner approval – frozen snacks guaranteed to be filled with some sort of toxic waste but super-tasty nonetheless, an assortment of juices (we’re not much on sodas), and ingredients to make a chocolate cake which was requested by one of the teenagers (mine, of course).

We went to the shortest line – even though it was a “regular” line – and the cashier was nearly done checking out the person in front of us. His progress slowed because apparently he cannot multi-task. He can check groceries OR talk but dare not do both at the same time. So, he made up for lost time and rambled on and on and on with the lady in front of us. She was more than ready to go but he was also trying to bag her groceries. Again, only one thing at a time. He commented on the colors of her reusable bags (purple, green, and blue). He put a couple of items in and chatted some more. This went on for a few minutes. The woman was so ready to go that as soon as the groceries were loaded she tried to take off. He called her back. “Ma’am, you need to sign for the credit card you swiped.” She returned and mumbled about being so distracted and needing to leave while she signed her name. She hastily grabbed her receipt and left.

We are next with our items and Teenage-Boy-Who’s-Never-Going-To-Be-Employee-of-the-Month looks at my scarf and says to me in a condescending tone, “What, was the express lane too busy?” Since I am not alone and don’t wish to embarrass my sweetie, I show remarkable restraint when I look at him and merely say, “It was the shortest line when we got here.” He scans our stuff and my blood pressure quickly rises because his comment offended me. No one has ever said that I had too few items to be in line. Since he’d looked at my scarf before commenting, I wonder if I’m experiencing some sort of shaved-head discrimination or perhaps it was reverse discrimination for not having a boatload of items. Who knows what motivated Teenage Boy to say such a thing? I look at my sweetie and repeat what Teenage Boy said. My sweetie looks at Teenage Boy with big corks in his pierced ears and said, “Dude. We chose the shortest line.” Teenage Boy said, “Why would you come here when people have big orders?” My 6′ tall sweetie said, “You were nearly done when we got here. It’s not the orders that made your line slow down. And where’s the sign that says we need to have 16 items or more?” Much-shorter Teenage Boy looked at my sweetie and decided to direct his eye contact towards me (my height was less intimidating) so I said to him, “I’ve never had anyone comment on having a few items and be made to feel that I need to leave.” He stammered and said, “I didn’t ask you to leave” as he turned 5 shades of purple. It was a joy to watch the color changes on his face because the gentleman behind us was watching this whole scene with just the slightest hint of a smile on his face.

Perhaps it’s because I’m old enough to be this kid’s mom (so I know better) or because of the cancer in me – or both – but I feel that all people should be treated with some sort of positive respect. Teenage Boy is in a customer service position and he needs a filter – the lady in front of me couldn’t get away fast enough because of his chatter and he should have thought about commenting on the number of my items with such a nasty tone. Neither one of us was treated with respect. It’s not just his age that got him in trouble. It’s a sad state when we have 9% unemployment (here in my area the unemployment is just over 7%) and there’s still a lack of management presence ensuring that customer service is being taught in most entry-level customer service positions.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. patriciawf
    Dec 02, 2011 @ 23:14:50

    Fantastic. I’ve never heard of there being a not enough items police.
    Nicely done.


  2. Paula Miller
    Dec 03, 2011 @ 11:50:40

    Wow! I think I would have been furious enough that I would have followed up with a phone call to the manager later. . . . . Why not send him/her a copy of your blog? It’s just soooo well written (as usual). That ought to promote some changes!


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