Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Welcome To The College Class Of Grocery Cashering

Today was a very odd day at work.
I often feel like I'm being filmed by a hidden TV camera and the goal is "How crazy can people act before she realizes this is all a joke?"

Came in at 8:45 am - crisp morning that was warming up. Started off sunny but clouds were rolling in.

It's been two weeks being behind the register and I still love it. I love having the ability to glimpse inside peoples kitchens, inside their lives.

Doritios, Fritos, Cheetos, soda, sour cream and onion dip; these customers have parties or friends over often. Probably fun people.

Go-gurts, snack pacs, Gatorade - sports players in the family.

Organic chicken, organic carrots, organic broccoli crowns, organic wild rice - probably intellectually influenced. And live too far from Whole Foods.

I love when moms (most often it's moms, sometimes dads) come in and buy 300.00 worth of groceries. Pancake mixes! Chocolate Chip nestle morsels! Ice cream! Cereal! Waffles! Hamburger meat, chicken, bacon, potatoes...this is a family where one parent is lucky enough to stay home. Where the mom makes dinners, breakfast, dessert. Rushes home to be there when her kids get home from school. There are often coupons involved and the mom's eyes light up when she realizes how much money she has saved the family because she has been diligent (I love when they save money too).

When I was a paramedic I loved a glimpse of life into my patients homes. So little could tell me so much. But that's for another story.

I have a feeling I'm one of the few people that think like I do. But I've noticed that people look at me as if they feel sad for me when I tell them I'm a cashier at a grocery store. I'm sure they think, "So much talent, WASTED on a boring job."

Don't feel sad for me. I love it. I like to think about the families gathered around together eating. Or the single man making his chicken nachos while watching a football game, or the old couple enjoying a cup of soup while they read the paper.

I love to see the new food that comes out - Rice Crispy Oreos! Pumpkin Spiced Keebler cookies! Things I would never think to look for.
I love seeing the creativeness of food - and the people willing to try new stuff. And I admire the customers who stick to the tried and true - there's something comforting about green beans and water chestnuts and French onions.

The people I work with may be an odd lot, some of the customers a bit crazy, but this being a cashier is very similar to being a medic - a brief encounter into the life of people. As a medic I tried to make them better. As a cashier, I smile and genuinely ask, "How are you today?" and I mean it. It's not something I say because the company wants me to, it's because I mean it. If you want to make small talk with me, I'm more than happy to engage in conversation.

Because I still believe people matter. Kindness matters. Caring matters. People are fascinating. We all have stories to tell...and I love the stories that people tell as I place their bananas on the scale, as I scan the cake flour, the apples, the brown sugar, and the eggs.

Wasting my time as a cashier? Nah. I may not have a seat in the front row of life like I did when I was a paramedic, but now I have something better: a window seat! Instead of worrying about getting stuck with a dirty needle, I only have to worry about getting chicken juice on my hand. I don't have to worry about how I'm going to carry a large person down three flights of stairs...I only have to worry how I'm going to pile all the bags of groceries into the customers cart.

I love my window seat. I love the glimpse I have into what comforts people, what brings people together (roast beef, baking potatoes, rolls, apple pie),  and how people celebrate (soda, cake, ice cream, chips, cookies). What they eat when their alone (frozen dinners). What they eat when they are studying (Red Bull and potato chips). What they eat when they are going on a road trip to a wedding (Goldfish crackers, muffins, Twizzlers). What they buy for the anniversary of the death of their spouses (flowers).

I only work four hour shifts, which is perfect. Because as much as I love what I do, by the end of my hour hours, I've had enough of making chit-chat. Just because I generally like people, doesn't mean I want to be around them all the time. At the end of my four hours, I'm eager to purchase those Rice Krispy Oreos and escape home, where I can eat my cookies (which are fabulous by the way), sip my coffee (or wine, depending on the scale of crazy my day was), and reflect on the personalities I've met; the nice people, the mean people, the barely getting by people, and the rich people - all telling me their stories through the food they choose.

Nope, don't feel sorry for me. Feel sorry for those cashiers that think their job is boring - they haven't yet figured out that it's a psychology/sociology/marketing class they are getting paid to attend.

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