My little script is so ingrained in my brain that when my grandparents call me for a quick chat, I sometimes instinctively ask them if they’ve found everything okay. Mine is one of the most repetitive jobs in the world, so I’m told. Most days are monotonous and identical in every way.
And others completely suck.
I get that every job has its ups and downs. Anything worth being paid for has its challenges. But what baffles me is that 90% of my heartache in the workplace is because some customers seem not to give a care in the world about the fact that I want to be there even less than they do.
This one’s for the cashiers.
“Hello. How are you today?”
Oddly enough, in some cultures people actually answer politely when a stranger asks them a polite question. If only I had a dollar for every time I’ve said my little spiel and gotten an annoyed groan or a snippy little “FINE” thrown in my face. What’s even more aggravating is that I’ve never gotten a rude response from a fellow millennial- only from people middle-aged and older. It kind of makes me wonder- do they actually look down upon me because I’m younger? Do they realize that the only reason why I’m a simple cashier is so I can save up to be an adult just like them?
I’m a college student. Just because I don’t have a job as well-paying as yours doesn’t make me any less deserving of respect, and I’m really not too stupid to understand the world. I get that your day may have sucked and the absolute last place you want to be right now is here, shopping for over-priced produce.
But c’mon. It’s not like I’m celebrating the joys of scanning barcodes all day.
It’s cool with me if you don’t want to raise the minimum wage or take the store survey or pretend that your day was wonderful or whatever. But when I’m looking at you with a smile on my face and your five hundred coupons in my hand and I ask you, “Hi! How are you?” It’s okay to smile back. I promise no one will judge you for talking to the stupid little cashier.
…And even if they do, it really and truly will make my day. One time an awesome customer picked up the two conveyor belt dividers, handed me one of them, and started the most epic sword fight in the world.
One year on Labor Day, a customer thanked me for coming to work so that he could buy a snack for his cancer-stricken wife.
One time a three-year-old handed me a piece of corn, pretending it was a magic bean and sparking the most interesting conversation of my entire day.
These people are my role models, the ones who treat me like equals instead of acting so high-and-mighty. They’re the reason why I stay here. Plus… you know… I’m broke. The bottom line is to remember who it is on the other side of the conveyor belt. Scorning a worker is no less harmful than racism or internet bullying. Can’t we all just be human beings together?
So thank you. And have a nice day.