10 Reasons Why Your Grocery Store Cashier Hates You

And why you deserve it


Graphic by Abraham Navarro/SAC.Media.

I’ve been working in retail for about seven years, in department stores and quick-service restaurants. Most recently weathering the storm at my local independently owned grocery store, which I naïvely thought would be a low-stress part-time job last fall. 

With the unique circumstances presented by the pandemic, I have been tested like never before. This one is for the essential workers getting less than minimum wage, no hazard pay, little to no sanitization of work stations and having to work within six feet of people  consistently and for long periods of time.

10. You abandoned your shopping cart in the store

You left the house, drove all the way to the store, selected a bag of Funyuns and a single avocado and all of sudden you had to go? This happens too often for it to always be an emergency. It’s just inconsiderate plain and simple. You can dump the items somewhere if you can’t bring yourself to put them back where they belong. This is the worst when there are perishables involved. You would think that people who grab something like a gallon of milk would have enough common sense to know that you can’t just leave those things out.

9. It’s 8 a.m. and you want $100 cash back

Cool, thanks for clearing out my till because you couldn’t bear to stop at a bank. They would literally be more convenient for you, especially if they have a drive-thru. This is annoying because it forces us to call a change request, which could take time depending if the manager on duty even remembers. If we don’t have enough cash in our till we can process transactions and it takes time we might not have to fix.

8. You left a drink in the freezer

Points for not leaving a perishable out, but complete disqualification for making us clean frozen orange juice off of bags of pizza rolls. Please understand that more often than not your local grocery store is understaffed, underpaid, and overworked. We do not have the time, manpower or desire to comb through each nook and cranny to pick up after people who can very well put things back themselves. Again, this happens way too often to be the result of an emergency.

7. You left items you don’t want in areas by the register instead of you know, handing it to your cashier

Listen, it’s okay, you are fully allowed to change your mind. No one is going to judge you if you decide that today was not the day to buy an aroma diffuser. Just hand it to me, for the love of God. I cannot for the life of me understand why every day I have to clear my register of abandoned items. Just say something along the lines of, “sorry, I changed my mind about these.” You don’t have to hide it in the candy like a joint in the bushes. It’s not a big deal.

6. “Oh, it’s not scanning? Must be free!”

Every time I have to feign laughter at every bastardization of this joke, I think of Sisyphus condemned to ceaselessly roll a boulder to the top of the mountain. I think about how once at the top, the boulder rolls to the bottom again because of its own weight. I think about the customer getting crushed by the boulder.

5. You needlessly throw your items on the conveyor belt

I’m talking from three feet away. I’m talking cans of energy drinks being chucked up carelessly and without warning. I’m talking just needlessly forceful out of nowhere with no good reason. You don’t have to tenderly lower your items on the belt, just don’t toss ‘em at me like you’re trying out for the minor league! I work at a grocery store — I don’t have insurance!

4. You expect your cashier to be a concierge

You know where I work, I know where I work, so why do we pretend I would know anything about where the nearest nail salon is? I don’t know when the movie theater closes. Usually, I respond to these with a simple “oh I’m not sure, I’m from out of town,” but god do I dream of a, “just google it.” I had a coworker who would just google it for the customer in front of them and read the answer off the screen.

3. You show up unprepared to shop during a viral pandemic

I don’t care WHERE you are. The Center for Control and Prevention’s official position on cloth face masks is still to wear them whenever you are out in public. You walk in without a mask while every staff member is huffing and puffing through theirs as they labor through their day, you’re basically saying you don’t care about the safety and wellbeing of everyone around you. This is especially callous when you know essential workers have a higher risk of infection and a lower chance of having health insurance.

2. You shop for nonessential items on a near-daily or daily basis

I constantly have customers who shop just for shopping’s sake. Customers who mill about the aisles for hours because the mall is still closed. Customers who will complain about the struggles of quarantine as if I know anything about being home for anything other than sleeping. I don’t care if the stay-at-home order has been lifted- there is still nothing to prove that the pandemic is over or that things are any less dire than they were in March. It will not kill you to limit your shopping to once a week. It will not kill you to stop going to the store for one or two items. It’s actually lessening your risk of exposure. It actually may save your life.

1. You blame the cashier for things out of their control

In a perfect world, people would be thoroughly trained and given the proper tools to complete tasks. There would be well-thought-out procedures in place for absolutely everything. But unfortunately, that is not the case and there is not one company that was wholly prepared for the pandemic. To make things more confusing, not only is each state responding differently, but each county, each city, each business. I get that it’s frustrating not to have as much access to a public restroom. I understand fluctuating hours of business are confusing, especially when curfews are added to the mix. But ultimately, you have to remember not to shoot the messenger. You have to remember the person behind the name tag is just trying their best, and relaying information that was relayed to them.