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I Am A Security Guard: Karma Cashiering

During a recent Sunday night, I remarked to the Nice Cashier that the morning employee who relieved her had been showing up on time for a change. Of course, the tardiness promptly immediately resumed. On Monday morning, the Nice Cashier had to work overtime before returning home to her kids. "You jinxed it," she said to me during a lull that night.

Yes. Yes I did.

Thus chastened, I didn't even blink when an elderly woman walked in the store while pushing a cart. A regular with a stooped back, she wore a blue blouse and dirty white pants. Her body odor wafted in the air.

Sadly, she's one of the store's more difficult customers. She often barks at the employees or holds up the line to argue about prices. Once she forgot where she had parked her car. A cashier walked outside to help her. During another visit, she forgot how to use the automatic teller machine. Another cashier helped her. The staff suspects that she is losing her faculties.

On this night, she finished shopping and arrived at the Nice Cashier's line. The cashier rang up the sale, bagged the items and announced the total due. The woman began to write a check. She stopped and asked "Mucho dinero?" The cashier repeated the amount. "I knew you spoke Spanish," the woman said. "The country is going to hell with that."

She finished writing the check, but the store's computer system wouldn't accept it. The cashier delivered the news. The customer asked for the assistant manager, who told her the same thing. Since the automatic teller machine had run out of cash, the woman left the store to use one at a nearby bank. The cashier put the bags behind the counter.

Meanwhile, another worker walked behind the register to empty the waste basket. She said the customer had called her a man while asking her to pick up a gallon of milk. "I was not going to do that after what she said to me," the employee said.

The customer returned, dropped the bags in a cart and stood in another line.

As she waited, a husky man kept walking in and out of the store while scoping her. He wore a red football jersey and blue jeans. The thought occurred to me that he might roll the woman in the parking lot. I kept my eyes on him. He disappeared among the aisles.

The woman bought the goods. She then asked for the store's number and the name of the assistant's boss, explaining she wanted a reason why he "would not accept" her check. He immediately grimaced and shifted into "cover your ass" mode. He said the computer rejected it, not him. "I have nothing to do with it," he said.

Her conduct reminded me about karma. The assistant manager frequently arrives late for work, yet disparages other employees behind their backs. He does not supervise the Lazy Cashier. Instead he dumps more work on the Nice Cashier and another worker I call the Cool Cashier. I watched him squirm, figuring he had it coming.

The Nice Cashier wrote down the information for her. She pushed her cart out of the store and found her car, which was parked in a handicapped spot near the entrance. She loaded her goods and drove away.

Afterward, the Cool Cashier said the customer should not be shopping at night. I had the same thought, especially because of the man in the red jersey. But given her abuse of the employees, my sympathy for her had expired.

I should have kept my mouth shut, but didn't. "She's like that every time she comes in here," I said. Then my feelings softened a bit. "Is that going to be us in forty years?" I asked "Hey, wait a minute. That might be a jinx."

The Nice Cashier flashed a mock glare and said, "I'll come back to haunt you."


A very pseudononymous Jerome Haller earns rent money as a security guard for a large, publicly-held retail chain.


See more tales of security guards, pizzeria waitressing, barista'ing and office drudgery in the Life at Work collection.


Posted on August 7, 2009

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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