Being a Grocery Store Cashier Job Sucks

Being a cashier isn’t bad… Dealing with people is.

I work as a cashier in a small, family owned grocery store. The job itself isn’t that bad at all. It’s not hard once you learn how to do WIC checks and remember a few produce codes. All you really have to do is move stuff past a scanner, press a few buttons, and tell the customer to have a good day.

But sometimes I highly regret working here. People in this town aren’t the best people. Actually, they’re some of the worst.

A few weeks after I started working there, I was still trying to figure out some produce codes, and even names of some of the produce (Yucca? What the hell is yucca?) so I could look up the codes if it didn’t have a sticker. I had opened for the first time today, and I was on the express lane early in the morning. An older man comes through my line with a bad of grapes; they weren’t in the normal bags that they were originally put in, they were in a plain produce bag. I go to look up the code, but there was at least five different types of grapes in the system. So I politely ask the man if he remembers what type of grapes they were.

“How the hell am I supposed to know?!” he yells, “Isn’t that your goddamn job?!”

I try to explain to him that I need the code for the grapes, and there are a lot of different grapes in the system. He won’t have it. He continues to yell and carry on as a co-worker goes to the produce section to find out. After he left, my co-worker made a good point; Would you buy something without knowing what they were?

I also tend to get customers who don’t seem to know how to read, or simply don’t want to. Admittedly, the store sometimes has problems with not putting sale tags right below the product on sale, but the sign usually always specifies the product on sale. I get multiple customers coming to me with products they believe to be on sale, when the item on sale was next to it. For instance; a sign will say “Honey Nut Cheerios, 2 for $5!” The price will be larger than the name of the product to advertise the good sale price, but the name of the product is still there. A customer will come up with a box of cereal that was next to the Honey Nut Cheerios, and when it doesn’t ring up on sale, they’ll get pissed at me, as if I was the one who did something wrong. So I tell them what the sign said, the sign that they obviously saw but didn’t completely read, and they decide they don’t want the product. They then continue to complain and say we should label our signs better. I’m sorry, we have the product and the sale price on the sign, what more do you fucking want?

Also there are people who don’t seem to read prices at all and just throw whatever they want into their cart. The most frequent problem I’ve come across is tomatoes. During the winter, they’re expensive. Some tomatoes can be around $3.50 a pound. People will just load up a bag and throw them in their cart, then come to me and ask me to put half of them back because they can’t afford them all. We have easy to read price tags. We have scales. If something says it’s $3.50 a pound, take a few tomatoes, weigh them, and do the fucking math. Oh wait – these people can’t even read signs, why do I think they can do math?

Another big problem is customers on WIC. A lot of them know what they can and cannot get, separate the items by what’s on each check before I ring them up, and make it easy for the both of us. Then I get the customers who get whole milk when the check says 2% or 1%, the wrong size or brand of cheese, and the wrong kind of cereals or bread. WIC takes long enough, I don’t need your ignorant ass getting the wrong items and taking up my, and everyone else’s, time. People not weighing their produce and WIC problems tend to go hand in hand when some people come to me with the fruit & veggie WIC vouchers. They usually only say “up to $6″ or “up to $10″. If they price is above what it says on the voucher, they have to pay the balance. Most of them don’t mind, but others have a bitch fit over the fact that the strawberries made them five cents over, or the shitload of tomatoes they grabbed added up to fifteen bucks. It’s not my problem; it’s your responsibility to follow what it says on the check, not mine.

The customers are only half the reason I’ve put in my two-weeks notice after only a few months of working here. It’s also the scheduling.

When I applied, it was for a half-time job. I figured they’d have me working three or four days out of the week. Instead I’m working five, sometimes six days a week, 4 to 6 hours a day, eight if it’s a one-day sale. It’s not a set schedule, either. I never work the same days or hours a week, and I don’t know my schedule for next week until they put it up on Saturday. This leaves me no time to plan anything with friends or family, and not knowing when I’ll have time to do anything. If we need a day off, we have to give notice two weeks prior, which is understandable. But what if something comes up a week or half a week before it needs to happen, and I can’t get that day off? Well, I’m screwed.

A smaller problem, but a problem that still pisses me off, is when there aren’t customers. When it’s slow and we don’t have a customer, we have to occupy ourselves. Cleaning the conveyor, putting up more bags, taking the baskets out, doing some returns, fronting the displays at the end of aisles, etc. But there are some times when all of that is done and I’m standing there, with nothing to do, just waiting for a customer. One specific supervisor is very strict about us keeping busy, so she’ll send a message on our screen telling us to do something. But what if there IS nothing to do? What if all the baskets are taken out, everything is clean, etc? What the hell does she want us to do then? I know what I do – I pretend to wipe down the registers. As long as we look like we’re busy, she’s happy.

I need a job where I know when I’m going to be working. I need a job where, if things are slow, the supervisor will understand and give me something to do. So I’m done here.