Posted by: tlnemethy | January 7, 2013

Mustachios and Jesus

You meet some interesting characters working on the front lines of the customer service industry. I’ve seen color combinations even I know better than to wear at once, hello plaid and orange, and I’ve heard some weird banter from the sidelines. It’s fairly invigorating being just on the outskirts of a social group. No one cares if the cashier hears that your cousin is having marriage problems or if she sees you ram your child into the counter to punish him for riding underneath the shopping cart. I’ve seen it. You may think people would rather not be judged, but cashiers just don’t count, we only pass you fCIMG3329rom one way station to another.

I get a lot of elderly customers. They are both amusing and frustrating and it’s always up for grabs. The sweetest crinkly eyed woman can shuffle up to you and compliment everything about you that you can’t control before flipping a tit over a sale price. And then there’s the gruff old men who only get dragged along on these shopping expeditions to man the wallet. Always look to the elderly man because he’s gonna be handling the cash or the card and then he gets loaded down with the armfuls of plastic bags. He is a tree.

There are those who can’t speak English, and those who purposefully choose not to speak unless they are criticizing, those who are genuinely friendly and those who have shrunken hearts and clammy hands. An older gentleman gave me a magnetic bracelet with religious panels. He placed it directly on my wrist and told me his wing man from WWII now lives in China and manufactures them. You learn odd tidbits of these people’s lives. For a time oriented, get the customers through the line as fast as possible type workplace, you are also expected to connect with them. I am the fast food line of customer service and pleasantries. You can expect me to ask you about yourself while ringing up a carriage load of items that need to be folded, sorted, re wrapped, and bagged.

I smile at your children even if they keep pestering me for quarters to play the crane game with. I know you don’t want them to play, but I have to end up being the bad guy in refusing their tiny open palms. Please sir, may I have some more. CIMG3326No. I have to strategically place children’s Christmas presents in the same carriage as them without them stuffing their mitts into the bag to play. I sandwich them in like bag ladies, only their heads poking above the miscellaneous pool noodles and spaghetti sauces, diapers, and wreaths. Some are crying, some are yelling, some miserably sullen as they wait in the lines, but there are occasionally the little ones who giggle and wave as they leave; their entire tedious shopping adventure forgotten in sight of the doors.

I love the chatterbugs even as I try to scoot them through so the line does not rebel. Some, it seems, only venture out of their homes for that bridged communication. It doesn’t matter that I sometimes think the ornaments they buy are hideous or that the underwear they buy is not going to be flattering. I am just the beep of the scanner and the clang of the register because a cashier is only a cashier if there are customers.

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