From Token Female:
Hello all, Token Female again.
Unfortunately I have nothing that's happened recently to post, since I'm currently out of work. The market I work at put a new policy into place about a year and a half ago that basically states that all employees must work at least one day a month, and considering I'm in the UK for 5 months to study, I'm getting booted from the system. The policy's a pain in the ass, but I'm enjoying myself over here, so I'll deal with the no job thing when I get home.
Anyways, although I don't have new material to post (not even any good stories from the other side of the counter on the other side of the pond), I was reading through Thrift Store Slave's post about apologizing for things that aren't your fault earlier today and it reminded me of a story of my own - well, actually two. Here's a good title for the pair of them: "Why Token Female became the grocery department's token female employee."
Back when I first started working at the market, I was 14 (I had working papers). You started up on the front as a bagger/cashier - couldn't be in the deli or meat room because you had to be 18 to use the equipment, although you could technically be maintenance, grocery, booth, or produce at that point (or technically florist, but our florist department is tiny so it's honestly a one woman job except for Valentine's day when everyone and their brother wants roses wrapped specially for their sweetheart), but you started up on the front because maintenance, grocery, and produce frequently got called up during rushes to help bag, and if you were in the booth, you'd often go cover for Front end managers or run a register for someone's break, or help out in a rush. Anyways! I was on the front end until I was 17, which is when I transferred departments.
I feel as if I may have told this story already in the comments somewhere, so if you've already read it, sorry. So, back shortly after I started ringing on my own, I get a veeeeeery interesting (read: rude) customer come through my line. A teenage boy brings his cart into my line, since I was just finishing up with a customer and had nobody else in my line at the moment. I kind of give him a nod and start ringing through the items in the cart.
Mom comes up with a few more items, apparently having sent him to secure them a place in
line while she grabbed eggs/bread/milk/whatever it was (honestly can't remember). One of the baggers comes up and asks what type of bags they want, and the transaction proceeds pretty smoothly (if silently). We get to the point where she's paying with a card - she slides it through the machine, I do my part, and I'm just waiting for it to finish processing.
JUST as my finger hits the enter button on my keyboard to finish the transaction and print the receipt, mom goes "Oh! I have coupons!" and whips out a small stack of them. I say to her, "I'm sorry, your credit card just went through, I can't take them" which was entirely true because the receipt was printing. Granted, I could have sent her up to the courtesy booth to get things sorted out, but I was new, I still had my BRIGHT YELLOW "Trainee" badge on, and I wasn't aware that the booth could handle it.
Even if I had, though, I wouldn't have sent her up there anyways, considering she turns to her son and tells him, RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, "This is why I always go through Awesome Cashier #1. She'd take care of it." Hate to say it, but she didn't get a "have a nice day" after that - I handed her copies of the receipt to her and turn to the next customer while she heads out.
1) Notice my BRIGHT YELLOW "Trainee badge" - it contrasts quite a lot from the maroon apron I wear.
2) Awesome Cashier #1 was busy/on break/otherwise unavailable to help you out. 3) Uh... sure, badmouth me all you want, but typically it's good etiquette not to do it in front of whoever you're badmouthing.
4) If you wanted to go through Awesome Cashier #1, you should have told your son that or sent him to get the items you wanted, and then dealt with the small line she had while my register was completely free.
5) Shoulda thought about those coupons BEFORE you put your card through the machine. There was long enough to mention that before I hit the enter key, and if you had entered it, I would have canceled the card transaction, run your coupons through, and then done it all over again. Nothing I can do about it once the transaction's been completed.
This happened a few months later, so I was more confident as a cashier and moving faster. I was 15 or 16 at the time. This guy and his 3 to 4 year old daughter come through my line with their week's worth of shopping. I do my standard greeting, open the back of the cart, and start ringing their groceries (our registers were set up with a shelf you could stack your items on or park your cart over and drop the back of it so the cashier could get at the groceries - no conveyor belts anywhere. The cashier unloaded your cart for you and then rolled/slid the items down to the bagging area).
Dad takes his daughter out of the cart, which is fine, some kids don't like to be separated from their parents and I'd rather not have a wailing kid at my register, thanks. He then proceeds to sit her down on the shelf on the register used for writing checks or signing credit card receipts. I forget which one of them asks for stickers, but at the time we gave out free animal stickers to kids if they were well-behaved or asked nicely for them, or the parents asked for them. We were, unfortunately for me, out of them at the time, so I say something along the lines of "sorry, we don't have any right now." Thought that would be the end of that. Nope.
Daughter starts grabbing at the little screen I have that's facing me so I can make sure items are ringing up correctly without having to adjust the larger screen the customers see, and to make sure I'm punching produce/bakery codes in right and spinning it around to face her. I spin it back towards me so I can see what I'm doing, but she promptly grabs it and spins it towards her.
This goes back and forth for a while before I just let her have it and ring through the items, glancing up at the bigger screen every now and then to make sure I had punched in codes right. I'm pretty sure the entire time I keep telling the two of them "sorry, no stickers" because I'm flustered and don't feel comfortable enough asking the little girl or her dad to stop - at 15/16 I was, for whatever reason, really nervous around small kids unless they were babies or well-behaved. I also honestly thought that dad should have asked his daughter not to touch at the time, but that's beside the point.
I had apparently annoyed dad with my apologies, because he raises his voice at me to
tell me to stop it and that he wants my manager (he didn't actually yell, which is lucky, I guess). I get the store manager over because the front end manager is busy and the store manager happens to be right there anyways, and he takes care of the situation.
Meanwhile, I'm staring at my hands and finishing up the transaction because I was embarrassed both from the repeated apologies and the fact that I had needed to get the store manager over to deal with the situation caused by my inability to shut up when I'm flustered.
Customer gets out of the store, and I can't remember if the store manager told me what was going on or just let it go (I think he just let it go), but those events made me start thinking that I wanted to get off the front end.
When my hours started getting cut in the summer of 2007 because the store manager at the time had hired 13 - yes, 13! - new part-time employees during our slow season, I jumped ship on front end and went to the grocery manager and asked "Hey, do you need another pair of hands?" Maybe I was a little sensitive to let those two bad encounters stick with me the way they did, but it's a little too late now.
Hopefully I'll have more interesting things to share at some point during my stay here in the UK.
Keep on trucking, RHU!