Why The Cashiers at the Grocery Store Hate Me

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Well, maybe hate is too strong of a word, but they really, really, really don’t like me. When I go to check out, they all avoid catching my eye, they look away or look down. Kind of like when you are in school, and you avert your eyes hoping that the teacher won’t call on you. Sometimes, if there is much of a line, they don’t see me get behind someone. Then when they finish checking the other person out, they look up, see me, and their face betrays their unhappiness.

Am I rude? No. Do I yell at them? No. Do I have a zillion coupons, half of which are expired? No. My problem is produce. That’s it. Produce. At my local grocery store a lot of the produce does not come with one of those handy scannable numbers that make cashiers lives oh so easy. So, they have to key in the 4 digit number. The good cashiers have a lot of these codes memorized. Tomatoes, no problem, cucumbers, got it. The problem is my produce, apparently it’s unique. Not a lot of people buy what I buy. Or at least, not enough to memorize the codes. Plus 99% of the cashiers at my local grocery store are high school girls. I know because all 3 of my daughters have worked there. High school girls, in case you are wondering, could care less what kind of vegetable you are buying. They don’t consider it a challenge to learn the codes of the unusual vegetables. No, they consider it an unbelievable hassle that you are even attempting to buy these items.

When they don’t know the number, they have to look it up. First on this clever little roller thing that is on their cash register. After they spin that around a few times, and fail to locate the vegetable, they must pull a book out from under the counter. This is always done with great sighs of weariness. They manage to look completely disgusted and totally bored at the same time. First, they don’t know what leeks are, then shallots are a puzzle, by the time they get to the ginger root, you can tell they wish they could pull a lever and I would drop down into some convenient whole in the ground.

But you know what is really hard? What’s really hard is when even the people who work in the produce department don’t know what the produce is.

I know that most of you probably don’t need another picture, but here is a full view.

When the cashier sees this, she is finally happy because it has a number on it. She doesn’t have to look it up. She has no clue what it is (and neither apparently does the produce department). Unfortunately, it doesn’t ring up. Why? Because my store doesn’t carry celery root. It never has. She looks at me. I say “Um, that’s not celery root, it’s fennel.” She looks up fennel, but she can’t find it. She starts to pull out the book, but then I notice “anise” on her roll guide thing. I say “Oh, there, try anise. You see it’s not celery root, it’s fennel, but they have it listed under anise. Which it’s not really anise either, but that’s what you call it here. When you are not calling it celery root, that is.” I give her all this information helpfully. I forgot, just for a moment, that she really, really, really doesn’t care.

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  1. says

    I go to registers operated by the teenaged boys. They don’t seem to mind looking up stuff; maybe it’s because my beautiful strawberry blond daughter is with me on the rare occasions when I venture out. Heck, even without her I find the boys. They’ll bag my frozens, colds & dry goods separately, as I line them up on the belt, and the girls just don’t care. And, as Debbie said, some stores here definitely have more produce than others. Good luck with your hunt for non-negative cashiers!

  2. Debbie Cook says

    I’m just impressed (envious?) that you can buy produce at your store that for which the cashier doesn’t have the codes memorized. Here, it’s tomatoes (check) and cucumbers (check) and not much else. 😉 For the fun stuff, I hit the farm stands. Well, I hit them even for the tomatoes and cukes, since the grocery stores bring in so much from California, even if we are surrounded here by farms in every direction. There’s nothing like a huge, vine-ripe, juicy Ruskin tomato from 10 miles down the road in Ruskin.

  3. Mike says

    I have the exact same experience just about every week. I like to buy whatever “exotic” fruits they’re carrying at the moment (e.g. persimmon, passion fruit, some odd hot pepper–those sorts of things), and I have yet to checkout without at least one item tripping things up for far longer than it should. What’s worse is when the exotic item was just shelved that day and so nobody knows what it is and they don’t have any way to look it up at the register…

  4. Pam says

    Joy – the fridge is great, sometimes I just walk by and give it a little pat. I love it!

    Debbie- I also try to buy local. What kills me is in the fall, when apples are plenty, our store was selling them from New Zealand!

    Debbie – I think it definitely helps having your daughter along!

    Mike – if I tried to buy a passion fruit, I’m sure they would revolt! I’m glad to know it’s like this elsewhere.

  5. Lyla says

    I work part-time(in addition to my full-time job)at a grocery store, or, “natural food store” as they like to call it. I just wanted to mention that I don’t think it’s so much that the cashiers mind looking up the codes they don’t have memorized. It’s more that they’re afraid YOU will mind having to wait for them to look the code up. That’s how I feel anyway.

    I got worried when I saw your picture and the tag proclaiming it to be celery root. I was afraid I’d been charging people for fennel when they were actually getting celery root! I’m so relieved to know I’ve been right all along. :-)

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