The Cashier Does Not Care About Your Well-Being


Listen to me. Listen wide - ear to maladjusted ear. When you are in line at Stop-N-Go - yes, I know it is called Casey's now - when you are in line and buying Powerball tickets, please take note of the line size. If there are others behind you, consider not holding everything up by having the suffering cashier check every last ticket in your stack of what you very well know are non-winners.

I’m onto you and I know this routine is but a ruse and an excuse to make conversation with the employee. I know, I can smell it and I can hear it in your voice, that you are a regular at this convenience store; that you know the cashiers by name and consider them your friends. Smells musty and sounds geriatric.

I have sobering news. They are not your friend. They are an employee and are not getting paid nearly enough to nod and “mhm” and “that’s interesting” and “no, what?” while you persecute them with stories about your pets and casually racist political beliefs. They do not understand the part in your story where the Mexican is lazy by nature. It, in fact, does not go without saying.  

I have places to be and standing behind some Devonian reptile is not one of them. Namely, I have to pick up Gatorade and donuts and a rotisserie chicken at Sunmart. I am very busy.

You, on the other hand. You are never busy, are you? I imagine you are here five days a week. You walk up to the counter and, with a fecal grin, ask for the “usual.” The cashier, God bless them, knows you mean two packs of Kool Blue Menthol 100’s and ten Powerball quick-picks. But they will not give you that power. They will make you tell them what you mean. Every single time. Because you do not deserve a “usual.” You are their usual.

Do you understand, by the way? How much money you would save buying these strange cigarettes by the carton? You actually do. But then what? Not go to the gas station every day? Who would you be then? Not Quirky Larry who pokes around and brings cheer to these hallways of purchasable impulse. That is what you think, isn’t it? That you brighten up the place.

Again, news. You belong to one of the few remaining Communal Miseries. You are also not unique and definitely do not brighten anything up. You are a talking vacuum and a thief of emotional energy. Because you are not unique, this cashier has dealt with ten of you already today. Mhm’ing and mhm’ing and mhm’ing their humanity to mush.

I’d like to put you all in a pit with just one pack of cigarettes and one Powerball ticket and see who emerges the quirkiest of Larry’s. Egh, maybe not. The idea alone gives me Rot of the stomach.

Usually I am thankful for bonds of lamentation, but not this one. I was a cashier myself when I was younger and regulars who tried to have conversations longer than ten seconds were the bane of my existence. They do not serve to make the day any better. They prevented me from doing things like stocking the cooler, counting the till, pricing the Fritos, and just existing stress free.

What service industry job descriptions do not tell you is that, in addition to your regular and underpaid duties, you will also be a part-time babysitter for the bored and decaying. You see, every transaction is a social engagement in which one party is not allowed to leave. You, the worker, cannot casually walk away like every other person in these mutants’ lives when you catch wind of the dire, reprehensible dialogue coming from the coverless manholes on their pavement faces. And, despite what it sounds like, the offenders are not always old. They come in every desperate variety which makes for terrifying uncertainty on a daily basis. Every customer is a gamble.

So please, Larry’s, make it your goal when you enter a place of business to return to your sarcophagi as quickly as possible. Please earn your company and make real, like-minded friends. When all of your interactions are with people who are getting paid by the hour, there is something desperately amiss. Okay? You are not entitled to anyone but your doctor at Meritcare’s attention and they, too, are getting paid. Ask yourself: Am I someone’s job? Or am I a person?

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