Anyone who has worked in customer service will appreciate this. Composed while working at Longs Drugstore (now CVS) in WC, California.
Hiiii! How are you? Did you find everything you were looking for?
My smile eats my face as I tilt my head to appear more approachable, but probably just look like a golden retriever. Green polo tucked into black pants, name tag on the right, T-Rex grin; if I had a tail, it would be wagging.
Just another nondescript day at your local drugstore and I am so, so happy to be here and to help you, the customer. How does it feel to always come first? You are my number one priority—my $8.00 an hour priority—and I can already tell that we are going to be the best of friends.
I can smell it in the small talk.
I am nod nod nodding away, grabbing item after item to scan and bag, scan and bag, scan and bag, as you rape my ear with a tirade of everything that went wrong today (and in your life, for that matter) and how crushed you are that we no longer carry the right brand of laundry detergent and is this on sale? I need a coupon? can you find me one? it's not on sale? what about this? and you are just so damn stressed after waiting in that hideously long line and actually, could you just void out that entire purchase? I forgot a few things.
This is probably one of the reasons why my friends are confused by the fact that I keep this job, let alone that I applied for it in the first place. This is no cozy coffee shop (but he-ey Peet's, are you hiring for the summer?) nor trendy boutique; this isn't even Walgreens status. Some days, as I feel my face cracking while I scan and bag, scan and bag, scan and bag—monotony at its finest—I have to wonder what I'm doing with my life.
And suddenly, amidst those repeated motions, a revolutionary realization breaks through and curls that smile into a smirk.
Consider yourself exposed, found out—in those few seconds it takes to bag your purchase, I've learned a lot more about you than you'd ever like me to know.
All your dirty little secrets on a conveyor belt.
Teenage girls buying pregnancy tests, I've noticed the way they can't make eye contact. I've noticed that most of the customers who weekly buy Star, People, Us—glamorously trashy magazines about the rich and fortunate looking and their all-you-can-snort lifestyles—are old, overweight women who are also buying six boxes of South Beach Diet cookies and anti-aging serum.
After awhile, I recognize our usual customers with their usual purchases, buying into—rather than breaking—their habits. Alcoholics, cigarette fiends, skinny women buying laxatives; their tap tap tapping fingers pound against the counter as they wait, yearning for their fix.
One nervous looking couple—probably in their early 20's—buys only condoms, truffles, and erotic bath salts. As the man silently hands me his credit card, he finds something very intriguing about his shoes…or maybe it's the floor tile. This is fortunate since I am struggling to keep a straight face. As a highly trained professional cashier, I realize there is nothing remotely amusing about this situation...and totally don't wink when I tell them to have a good night.
Although I do find myself at a loss for words when a woman buys tampons and lighter fluid.
And even with you at my very mercy, I'm still your punching bag. You've had a long day, you're in a hurry to somewhere you don't want to be, and you can't wait to dump all of your problems on someone who is in no position to argue.
Yeah m'am, for minimum wage I'll be your Jesus Christ. Sure.
You can spew your spiteful words at me because I can't ring up a storeful of customers in one swipe and you can complain about our products—or lack thereof—and how there's no one in the photo department because Frankie is always sleeping in the break room, and you can start a riot because this item is undeniably on sale even though you were looking at a different display and you can take out every wrong in this world on me because you are right, you are always right.
I forgive you. I will still love you.
Thinking of my paycheck, I am nod nod nodding away.
Karma, on the other hand, may not be so forgiving. Should rude words be exchanged, I just might have to call for a price check on your Preparation H. And my register may suddenly run out of one dollar bills—sorry!—so you'll receive your change entirely in pennies. If the system spontaneously deactivates itself, I guess I'll have to ring you up allll over again. A few times, actually.
And don't worry. I'm not going to spill the dirty details of your shopping cart to the rest of the town…at least not with your name included.
Thank you for shopping at Longs. Have a nice day.