Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The cashier game

Most annoying cashier question:  "How many bags are you going to need?"
Umm... I don't know!
No idea!
She's the cashier!  She bags up eighteen thousand grocery orders a day... how am I supposed to know?
Especially while I'm loading stuff on the belt, totalling numbers in my head to make sure my debit card doesn't pull a wild bouncy-bouncy at payment time and usually corralling one to four kicking, screaming children.
 
So she guessed ten today - she was exactly right, though I suppose it could  have all fit in nine if I was being really good.  (I normally use cloth bags ALL the time now, I promise, but Pesach is the exception)
 
Anyway, she just kind of counted out the bags and chucked them onto the groceries as they piled up on the other side of the cash register.
 
Didn't they used to bag groceries for you?
Now they not only charge you for the bags, they stand there and watch you bag them.
 
Except... shh... I play dumb sometimes, if I have no kids-in-a-hurry with me (doesn't happen often, but my mother took them and fed them macaroni by the fire today - yay!).
 
So I play dumb.  I stand there as she beeps them through.  Okay, I actually stand and watch the prices ring up as the items beep through, which I really feel you ought to do all the time, because as well all know, the computer isn't always right.
 
If you as a customer are bagging groceries, you are probably not watching the prices ring through.  Which is probably - and I promise, I'm not going to launch into a paranoid screed here - it's probably exactly what the store wants you to be doing:  looking anywhere but at the prices as they beep through. 
 
Because, chances are (again, not getting overly paranoid) there's a nickel and dime here and there that may be higher or lower than the shelf price.  Computers aren't perfect.  If you notice the pricing that's off, it'll not only mean taking the time to dicker, and if you win the dickering, call a supervisor to come adjust the price (or worse - "PRICE CHECK!"). 
 
Either way, it costs the store in terms of cashier's time, whereas if you're not looking because you're bagging, there's a chance they could make an extra dollar or so per cashier-shift to help pay her salary to NOT put your groceries into bags.
 
This isn't something I feel very strongly about, you understand; just think a bit about while standing in grocery-store lineups, which I do a lot these days.  Usually Ted does the grocery shopping.  I'm too slow - I wonder why!  (all these deep thoughts slow me down)
 
So where was I?
Oh, yeah - so I play dumb.  Usually when I'm really exhausted or feeling sick or overwhelmed in some way.
 
I stand and watch the prices ring up (on the left of the cashier) and deliberately, as if I had a recovering neck injury, hold my head turned stiffly AWAY from where the groceries are piling up (to the right of the cashier).
 
Eventually, miffed, the cashier will start bagging the stuff up herself, because otherwise there's  no room to beep through more groceries - her main job.
 
So I do feel like I'm letting down the team a bit when I do this.
Which is ridiculous, really.  Because - what team is it I'm letting down??
 
And if she does condescend to bag the groceries, then there's the question of where to put them. 
 
In the golden days of supermarket customer service, they used to have a place for the cart within reach of the cashier, so she could, in one easy motion, ring in the groceries, bag them, and pop them in the cart.  Now, the cart is within easy reach of me, the consumer.  And if I don't do my bagging job, it is a huge, back-straining reach for the cashier to stretch past the grocery receiving area and plop the bags into the cart.
 
Plus there's the fact that one of us is getting paid - not much, probably, but paid.
She did choose the job, after all.
While the other one of us is actually paying for the privilege of walking out of the store unimpeded with food for her family.
 
Bit of an inequal team, if you think about it, though I hate to get all landownerish about it.
Am I the only one doing this "stare-in-the-other-direction" thing to force the customer-service hand a bit?
Oh, drat.  Probably am.

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