I really do love what I do. I mention it because, well, I also complain a lot about it.
Thing is, not everyone is cut out for retail. I’m one of those rare people who not only really excels at that whole face-to-face-with-the-customer thing, but actually enjoys doing it. I fully appreciate that there are those who wouldn’t want to do it. That’s why there are other kinds of jobs, like manual labor and night security.
But believe me when I say I love what I do, in spite of the seemingly constant bitching about it you’ll see here.
I’m here today to talk about a basic part of the customer/clerk process: Payment.
Just hand me the fucking money when I ask you for it.
That shouldn’t really be so hard, should it? No. It shouldn’t. But for some reason, you people want to thrust your credit card at me before you even order. And then you insist on just holding it out there, hovering in that sacred space that separates me from you, until I am ready to take it from you. It’s like some performance art version of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam (without the nudity, of course).
I have different approaches to this. Sometimes I’ll just go ahead and take your card and carry on with the transaction. Other times I might thank you for giving me a gift and ask if I can get you anything in return. More often, though, I’ll just let you hold it out there. In my mind, I imagine you’re wearing a cast and can’t put your arm down. In reality, I’m testing you. Can you hold it there until I’m ready? Will you get tired? Will you realize you’ve completely skipped the first part of the process and jumped ahead to the end of our brief time together? Sometimes I even walk away to get your pastry or your coffee, returning to find you still holding your card out. You astound me sometimes.
Oh, and that’s not all. If you’re not a card-thruster, you’re a money-dumper. You actually wait until I ask for payment, so you’ve got that going for you. But then instead of putting the money in my hand, which I extend to you in a gesture that means “put the god-damned money here!”, you dump it on the counter, forcing me to then scoop it up. Then I get to sort it out, because you can’t bother to face your bills or even uncrumple them. Jesus Christ, what are you, eleven? You keep your cash smashed into random wads like an epileptic origami weasel. Don’t think I don’t see you making your impatient face while I slowly and deliberately unfold each bill, smoothing them out before sorting and counting them. Some people really shouldn’t be allowed to use cash.
And then there was this scenario: Your total bill was $4.87. I gave you the total and you fumbled your overflowing wallet from your pocket (do you really need 5,381 old receipts and business cards?). You pulled a single dollar bill out, dodged my outstretched palm and laid the bill on the counter. I picked it up and held my hand out as you fished a second dollar bill from the wallet and, once again dodging my hand, laid it on the counter. I picked it up and held my hand out again. Again, you slid a single bill out of your wallet and laid it on the counter, avoiding my hand. I picked it up and waited while you slipped out a fourth bill, which somehow missed my hand and was placed on the counter for me to pick up. A fifth bill was also laid on the counter and not into my conveniently outstretched hand. What the fuck is wrong with you? Are you afraid to touch another human being? You know I’m going to touch you when I give you the change, right? I could have simply given up at the second one and just waited for you to get the rest of the cash out and lay it down, but I felt drawn into the scene and needed to know if you’d ever manage to get a bill in my hand. And now I know.
In all my experience I really can’t say I’ve run into this before. I don’t know if this is a new trend or if it’s simply a local thing. I don’t recall seeing it before my current job, even at a different job in the same neighborhood. Maybe it’s the nature of the store and/or the clientele. Or maybe people have just gotten ruder and more impatient as time plods on. Whatever the case, it’s both amusing and crazy-making.
To be fair, a significant number of you do wait until we ask for payment and you actually hand it to us. And we thank you for that.
Stay tuned for more exciting stories from the retail counter. And maybe some other observations about people in general. I probably won’t always be bitchy. Unless you like that sort of thing.