The Rules of Retail (A Grumpy Cashier’s Guide to Not Being an Asshole)
Upon my return to the retail world, I was displeased to find that the people who shop retail haven’t improved much as human beings. I feel that this needs to be remedied. So here are fifteen simple pointers to help you improve yourself, the retail experience, and my life.
- Don’t ask me to check a price for you and then argue with me about it. If you already knew the price, why did you ask me to find it for you? If you didn’t, and are shocked by the expense, don’t buy it. I don’t set the prices and I’m not going to change them just for you.
- Don’t blame me for your problems. If my register tells me that you don’t have enough money on your card or that your account is invalid, don’t act like I made it up. Don’t tell me some story about how you just got paid today and there should be hundreds of dollars available to you. I can’t change how your card interacts with our register software, and I don’t even know if your story is true besides that, so find a different method of payment or cancel the transaction and move along. You bleating about what should be happening isn’t going to change the fact that I can’t make my register accept your card, whether it is a problem with our software or not.
- Don’t switch tags on merchandise. I’m not an idiot and I possess both basic logic and basic reading skills. If your Danskin running shoes have a sticker on them that reads “Girls’ Hello Kitty Flip Flops,” I’m going to find the UPC for the actual sneakers and charge you according to that.
There are three additions to this:
— If I find the real price, don’t argue with me. I know you’re the one who switched the tags, and I know what you’re trying to get away with. Either pay the real price or don’t buy them.
—Don’t make me call my manager. If you hold up my line over a problem that you created, you are an asshole and I will be impolite to you the rest of the transaction. Know that if it wouldn’t cost me my job, I would be strangling you.
—Don’t tell me you saw it on the shelf as a different price. How the hell am I supposed to know if you are making it up or not? I’m not going to risk my job changing the price just because you “saw it for five dollars.” Also, nine times out of ten it was in the wrong place or you looked at the wrong price, and you really don’t deserve a discount for your ineptitude.
- Don’t tell me to smile. Normally, I’m the best at pasting on a super-fake retail smile, but if I’m not smiling, there’s a reason. Maybe I’m concentrating, maybe you’ve made me uncomfortable, maybe my crappy job is just getting to me. Either way, you don’t get to tell me what to do, especially if you’re a middle-aged or elderly white man. You’re lucky I’m even here, considering how little I get paid. I don’t have to act like I enjoy it.
- Don’t bitch when I tell you my line is closed. I’ve been here for nine hours and I’m late going home; I’m not staying even later just for you. Plus my light was off and my closed sign was up. It’s not my fault you chose to ignore those very clear go away signals. There are at least five other open registers—go there and shut up.
- Don’t take eighty years do to stuff. There’s an exception to this rule for old people, because I understand that it’s harder for them to complete the necessary actions to check out. But if you’re not old, there’s no excuse. Don’t wait a hundred years to get your bags, thereby causing a pileup that’s inconvenient for me. Don’t take a whole lifetime to decide between which items you want—you’re fucking up my IPH score, and even if you weren’t, it would be obnoxious anyway. And get off your phone, follow my directions, and swipe your fucking card before I die of old age.
- Don’t come back and tell me I scammed you. I didn’t. If you tell me you had an item and it’s neither on your receipt or in your bags, you didn’t have that item to begin with. There’s nowhere at my register for me to hide it, and I don’t want it anyway. I want you to be out of my store and out of my life, with nothing to prolong our interaction. I would never run the risk of seeing you again by holding on to your stuff.
- Don’t get mad because I can’t do returns. That’s what the service desk is for, and it’s not my fault you didn’t take it upon yourself to learn this information before you stood in my line for twenty minutes. You arguing with me isn’t going to magically grant me the ability to accept your return, and is only going to piss the both of us off. Just go to the service desk and shut up.
- Don’t tell me things about myself like you know what you’re talking about. Don’t presume that I’m a nice girl just because I’m being friendly with you. I am getting paid to be and that is the only thing keeping me from ignoring you entirely. Also, don’t comment on my appearance. I don’t care if you think I’m pretty, especially if you are forty years my senior and are leering down my shirt. Know that I WILL call security if you get too friendly.
- Don’t ever say, “You look bored.” I never do. When I’m not ringing your obnoxious ass out, I have like six billion other things to do. Just because I don’t have a line of people, don’t assume that I’m not doing work that needs to be done. Also, your insinuation that I’m not working is insulting and will cause me to fantasize about choking you for the rest of the transaction.
- Don’t ask me where stuff is, or the price on a particular product that you don’t already have with you. It’s nearly impossible for a floor associate to know the location, price, and sale status of every item in their own department, never mind a cashier who hasn’t even been in that department once in her life. Find an actual sales associate, or don’t get mad at me when I don’t know.
- Don’t tell me things about yourself that don’t belong in small-talk. Don’t tell me about your religion, don’t criticize minorities, and don’t grandstand about your political views. Ninety-nine percent of the time I probably disagree with you, and revealing these things about what an awful human being you are will make me want to be mean to you. Don’t put it on me to restrain myself.
- Don’t expect the world of me. I am being paid minimum wage to be here. Most of my work is well-beyond minimum effort, but even if it wasn’t, that shouldn’t be a problem. If you’re expecting some crazy-awesome service, go to a place where they pay their employees crazy-awesome wages. And then call me to let me know where that is so I can quit and work there instead.
- Don’t act like you’re smarter or better than me just because I work in retail. You’re not. I’m here to pay for my schooling which will result in an advanced degree in a field of study you’ve never even heard of. The average IQ in this place is twice as high as yours, since it’s all poor college students working to pay for their increasingly more difficult degrees. And even if that weren’t true, there’s no reason for you to be a smarmy douche about it anyway.
- Most importantly, don’t be rude. I deal with more bullshit everyday than you likely have this entire year. This includes my poor wages, stressful customer interactions, heaping workloads, terrible managers, unrealistic expectations, hazardous work-environment, and at least ten assholes who have behaved just like you everyday. The LEAST you can do is be nice, and there’s no reason for you to be otherwise. I’m never rude to you, and I didn’t cause whatever problem you’re having, so don’t take it out on me. Hold your shit together for the the minute and a half it takes to get through my line, leave, and THEN deal with it yourself. Don’t ruin my day because you think the world revolves around your feelings.
Ultimately, remember that retail workers are people too, and you’re not the most important person on planet Earth. Treat us with kindness and respect and we won’t go home and say nasty stuff about you to our friends, family, and the internet.