Penny For Your Thoughts*

(via: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/77/209309109_ab8e771168.jpg)

I was blown away by the response I got to my last post. It may not look like I got many comments on the post itself, but I couldn’t believe all the people that contacted me through Facebook to let me know that the post had touched them, and, in many cases, brought them to tears. I’m glad that the small moment that moved me moved so many of you too.

In other news, I did not have any lovely moments today. There must be something in the water here in Pretty City, because every. single. person I dealt with today was all kinds of awful. Seriously. I feel bad for saying that as I like to try and find the good in people, but I don’t know what it was… my coworkers even felt the same way.

Sun Girl actually wrote a post that touched on this yesterday, and I thought about it a lot while I worked today. And as I was going through all these transactions, I couldn’t help but compare them to how I usually shop…

I arrive at the checkout. Realistically, I’m not always going to be first in the line at a cash register, so if there are people in front of me, what’s the use of complaining? By the time I get to the front I am completely done my shopping, and am prepared to cash out with my wallet in hand.

Me: Hi there. (with a smile)

Cashier: Hello, how are you? Did you find everything you were looking for?

Me: Yes, thank you.

Cashier: Excellent. The total is *blank*.

Me: Okay, thanks.

I pull some form of payment out of my wallet, which I have ready in my hand. If there is no one behind me, I might try and find the exact change, but only if it’s easily found and doesn’t require me to dump my entire change purse onto the counter, which I feel is a bit tacky. If the store is busy, I happily accept the change. Having three more pennies in my wallet isn’t going to ruin my day.

Cashier: Here’s your change! Thanks, and have a nice day.

Me: Thank you, you too!

At this point I quickly collect my things and move out of the way for the next customer.

My whole goal is to try and act in a way and treat people in the way I like to be treated myself. I always think, if I am friendly and courteous with someone, there is a much higher chance that they’ll be the same with me, right?

WRONG. Well, at least where I work. Here’s a typical transaction when I work on cash:

Customer arrives at the counter, upset that a) we didn’t have what they wanted; or b) that they had to wait two minutes for the person in front of them to cash out. They give me an angry look and dump the entire contents of their basket in a messy pile on the counter.

Me: Hi there, how are you?

Customer: Fine.

Me: Did you find everything you were looking for?

Customer: (no answer)

Me: …okay, the total is *blank*.

Customer: What? Why is it so much?

**Note: People rarely spend more than $25 in my store.

Me: (going through each item on their receipt) Well, this costs this much, and this costs that much, etc etc.

The lineup is now growing and I buzz for a second cashier to join me.

Customer: Fine. (Begins rooting around in their bag or purse for their wallet.)

Me: Did you need to purchase a bag today, or would you like to take a box?

Customer: You charge for bags?? HIGHWAY ROBBERY. I thought you couldn’t charge for bags here!

Me: I’m so sorry, we do charge 5 cents for plastic bags here, but we do offer free boxes as well as an alternative.

Customer: (Grumbling) I’m not paying for that. I can’t believe YOU’D do that.

(Meaning ME. Personally. As if I make all the major decisions for the store.)

Me: I’m sorry, but I don’t make store policies, I just have to follow them. (with a smile, trying to make friends)

Customer: Whatever. What’s the total again?

Customers still in the line-up are becoming increasingly agitated and are now vocalizing their unhappiness. Then I hear the clanging of the entire contents of a change purse dumping on to my counter. I can see that they have larger bills in their wallet, but instead they count out $10.93 in their small change because they don’t want more change and refuse to take any pennies. It doesn’t matter that there are 10 people behind them in the line-up. If they don’t have the exact change, they try and get me to ignore a few cents to prevent any pennies from entering their wallet. When I refuse to let them pay anything less than the full amount, they get angry and try again to piece together the exact change from the pile of silver and copped spilled across my counter. Then, instead of handing it to me, they push it across the counter for me to pick up.

Me: Thank you. Here’s your receipt, have a nice day.

They then begin to bag / box their groceries, taking up half the counter, as I begin the process allllll over again with a new customer who talks at me and not to me. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Isn’t that lovely?

I usually come home so exhausted and exasperated that it takes me a half hour to let the day roll off my shoulders.

It’s not pretty.

I really don’t understand it through… I know that sometimes external factors cause people to be the way they are in certain moments, but an entire day of it? I try so hard to be kind and nice, and I have it shoved back in my face over what, pennies?

And what’s the big deal with pennies anyway? Sure, they aren’t my favourite thing, but I would never go to the lengths I see every day to avoid them. People get MEAN over pennies. When I do get them I take them home, throw them in my big penny jar and save them for a rainy day. No harm done.

Maybe I missed the memo about the anti-penny movement.

Are you anti or pro pennies?

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5 Comments

  • Cammy@ClassroomConfessions

    I worked in retail for years so I can definitely see this exact story in my own memory. Customers can be so rude sometimes. And I hate, HATE the fact that so many assume that they are better than you. That you are just some lowly person who has nothing else going on in their lives. They never think that you might be in college, or already have a degree, or anything.

    I feel for ya girlie.

  • Shop Girl*

    Ahhh it's SO frustrating! People I deal with can be SO condescending… I feel like they think they are “better” than me because I work where I do. Sometimes I just want to scream “I HAVE TWO UNIVERSITY DEGREES” in their face to get some respect. haha

    Instead I smile and say, “Have a nice day.”

  • Sun Girl

    oh gosh i LOVE pennies. I had been gathering them up for years, picking them up from grounds or taking them from my friends who wanted to get rid of them. the other day i took them to a machine and i had $52 worth of pennies. hello new shoes!

    thanks for the mention!

  • Janet

    I don't mind pennies or any other change. I follow your philosophy and just take it, put it in my piggy bank (yes, I really have a bank, and it's really a pig) and save it for a rainy day.

  • Date Girl

    I do NOT miss working retail. People are horrible!! I'm with you, I try to get in, get out and be on my way as quickly as possible. I also try to be friendly to the clerk because I know their job is tough. I'm fine with pennies-but I generally deal with debit just to avoid having to juggle cash in the first place.

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