Monthly Archives: June 2014

Water Trickles Downward and My Gift with Children

Of course there will always be those gems that stand out. Today was a full day in every sense of the word, but the cashier position comes with several unsung perks and I will go over my dealings with two particular customers in this post. The next post will involve dealings with a particular supervisor and their mistake that lead to my calling the company hotline.

One of my earliest customers bought a ton of Vitamain water as there was a Buy One, Get One sale this week. This stands out because he was a bit of an control freak. I get so many of those that it’s necessary for me to understand what qualifies a control freak.

You get people in a hurry, naturally. They’re on their way to work, so they buy a few things like breakfast and lunch. Those are easy because the size of their order is reasonably proportionate to how quickly they expect the transaction to be over with. Usually, with these people, if something goes wrong with the register or some other delay, they’re understanding enough to let you fix the problem as they themselves have jobs and understand that these things happen. Then you also get the people who are on special snack and beverage runs for their offices, meetings, or parties and Generimart happens to have the best deals/sexiest cashiers. Again, they’re mostly not in a rush, especially if they’re getting large orders together. They’re getting the whole thing written off on their taxes, or they’re generally in a good mood because they’re celebrating the birth of their child, anniversary, wedding, or whatever and they’re usually very friendly.

The control freaks are the ones who have moderate to large orders and have to watch your every. Fucking. Move. And is if this is not enough, they must also dictate. Every. Fucking. Move. I don’t mean, they’re paranoid about mixing chemicals with food. I understand that if you get enough shitty cashiers you’re notably paranoid and I’ve worked with the shittiest customers in retail, so I can forgive anyone judging me with a really low bar due to past circumstances. This particular person, however, illustrates the kind of person I cannot forgive.

So the guy loads the conveyer belt with water. I should note at this time that he is wearing a pretty expensive watch and has some nice clothing and his body obviously looks like he works out. He could work in some kind of high pressure business environment but that’s neither here nor there. On the basis of the watch, his name is Tick, because he was ticking me off. I reached for a large bag.

Tick: Don’t use a big bag. That bag’s too big.

Me: Okay, no problem.

I started loading a bag. And of course he watched me like a hawk, as if I were going to start juggling with the bottles. When I loaded a bag sufficiently for him, he took at and I started loading another one. Then, for some reason, I got distracted and I still had one bottle in my hand, while I was ringing the others out with the other.

Tick: Put in the bag.

I hate it when people tell me to put things in the bag. It seems nit picky, but in my mind it’s like telling a Subway sandwich artists to put the salad on the bread. Where the fuck else are they going to put it? So, I screwed with him in the only way that I knew I could get away with.

I held on to that bottle and continued the filling the bags with the other bottles. On the third bag, he told me to put the one I had in my hand in the bag. Again. So I took three more bottles and held those on my arm and continued to load the bags with the remaining bottle. I only did this until he asked a third time, but even if he grew agitated, there was really nothing he could say that would get me into any sort of trouble.

This is one of the many perks of which I speak. Sometimes I can turn the other cheek. Sometimes I can turn your other cheek with my backhand. It’s all about the timing.

To end on a positive note, parents who come through my line are often surprised to find out that I don’t have children of my own, because I know so much about things like Thomas the Tank Engine, Ninja Turtles, etc. That’s easily explained by the fact that I am a functioning human being who is either aware of these franchises (IE Doc McStuffins) through my own personal experience, or the fact that I work in a store that sells popular merchandise.

But the time this usually comes up is when I’m able to talk a child into handing me the toy that she will not let go without any screaming or tears. This is from a combination of growing up with brothers and cousins, and later having a little sister, as well as nephews and nieces over the course of my adult life. I have experience working in daycares and with children ranging in age from one year old to sixteen.

This happened this morning, near my register.

Mom: Okay, we can’t buy the kitty, we need to put it away.

Two year-old: NO! *Starts getting agitated and crying as the mother struggles to pry it from her daughter.

Me: Ma’am, let me try it please, trust me.

The customer started loading her purchases on the belt and I began ringing her out.

Me: *To the little girl* Hey, that’s a really nice kitty. Can I see that.

She was a little agitated, but she wasn’t screaming. And when the mother pushed the cart closer to me, I kept talking softly to the little girl, using simple words.

Me: I promise it’s going to be right here when you come back, and you can play with it when you go shopping again.

In a manner of seconds, she gave me the kitty and I placed it on the counter in eye sight. Like a lot of parents, the mother was extremely impressed and I always practically beg the parents to just let me try getting the toy from the child first. This saves my ears and no doubt saves them a lot of crying and screaming on the way back home.

Going Forward

I’m not a cart jockey any longer. Officially I’m a cashier at Generimart and so my accounts may be limited and few, but I will still write as much as possible.

One thing the cashier position gives me is a lot of time to be internal. Because I have so few responsibilities while I’m standing there and looking pretty, it’s like having the whole day to meditate in between customers. This philosophical mindset is probably what gives me the ability to positively interact with even the nastiest of the people who come through my line.

That said, the title of the blog will remain the same.

One Out of Two Isn’t Bad

I try to keep telling myself that I will find my audience. So I go to the open mics and when I don’t get the laughs, I try not to let that get me down and to feel proud of myself for finishing what I started.

Wednesday, I went to an open mic in Charlestown. I did roughly the same material that you may have seen in my Walnut Street set. A few chuckles, but otherwise, I didn’t kill. That’s fine because even the headliners had to work for their laughs, although there were a few really funny ones before me.

Yesterday I went to Brookline. It’s definitely a city with it’s own merits, although I really don’t see myself ever living there. It’s even more of a hassle to get there than it is to go to Charlestown and I think that was one of the many reasons this didn’t quite pan out. I got to the open mic and I made the worst mistake of all five minuets before the sign up sheet went up: I opened my mouth and started talking to people.

This isn’t a poor self esteem thing. I know from experience that there is a select few out there who will ever tolerate my presence, much less my personality. I realize how I come off to people and I can’t know from one minute to the next who I am going to inadvertently piss off, because why should I always walk on eggshells.

The bottom line is that by the time the headliner finished his set, I just wasn’t comfortable enough to wait for my name to get called. I’m sure there are going to be plenty of critics lambasting me for not following through, but there are two things to consider. 1: Choosing not to perform at one open mic is not going to kill me. It’s not like I just turned away a 10,000 dollar gig. 2: I don’t consider this a failure, but an event to learn from.

The Cash Register is My Improv Stage

One of the things I wish I could do is to just set up a camera at the register when I’m ringing customers out, because the best laughs I get are from individual customers.

A woman brought three different brands of apple juice through my line and some small apple juice boxes. She also had apple pie. While she was swiping her card and I was bagging her things, I had her rolling with this.

Me: Well ma’am, I see you have everything you need to make the big apple cider brewery cotillion a success. Bottles of apple juice and boxes of apple juice incase you run out of bottles of apple juice. I see you also have an apple pie, but you are missing the apple fritters, apple donuts, candy apples, dried apple chips, freeze dried apple chips, and apple cinnamon-”

The line is where I come to life. People actively seek me out when I’m on the register because they know I will make them laugh. I only want to replicate this success when I go before a microphone to do comedy.

Obama Stopped My Cart Pusher

Way back when I had my little meltdown and wound up on a three day watch at North Shore Medical Hospital, there was a woman who asked one of the staff members, “Will the medication impair the chip that Obama placed in my head?” Not the funniest thing out of that woman’s mouth by a long shot, but I wanted to explain the title of this post so there you go.

Yesterday I was in the parking lot and for no explicable reason, the pusher stopped responding to the remote. It would start up then stop again. Oh, crap, I thought, this is the last thing I need. So after a few tries of stopping and starting, I manually brought the pusher back into the store and brought the one that hasn’t been working all that well of late, due to abuse at the hands of a certain moron who is no longer working with us.

Then that one began stopping and starting and I realized it wasn’t a coincidence. Overhead, I had just become aware of two helicopters circling above the store. Something was going on that I was not aware of, either in the parking lot behind the mall, the Walnut Street Cemetery in Danvers, or along any part of the ass end of Danvers. This was something that required lots of sirens on the ground and what I guess were two search and rescue helicopters, because neither of them looked like the news or police helicopters that I have seen in the past. For the record, Beverly Airport is a short drive from Generimart, which is where most of these choppers are presumably parked.

I called the closing manager, whom I’m going to call Yeast. You’ll see why.

Me: So yeah, these keep stopping and starting. I think it might be radio interference.

Yeast: *Bobbing her head back and forth* Oh. But, that’s never happened before. Is this going to slow you down?

Me: Well, I’m less worried about this slowing me down and more worried that this will stop in front of a bus or something.

Yeast: But I don’t understand how helicopters could be interfering with the remotes.

Me: Because there’s heavy radio interference and these are remote controlled machines? (Seriously, am I the only person in my entire life who has ever read the FCC warning on the back of remote control toys?)

Yeast: Oh, that’s so weird. Why would that happen?

So yeah, explaining this to her was like trying to explain nuclear physics to the strains of bacteria we use to make bread and booze.

Eventually whatever it was stopped happening and the helicopters went away. Someone suggested a fire and there was a vaguely fire scented smell in the air, but I won’t know until I see the news, if I can ever be arsed to look it up. I did get to respond to this question, which did also inspire the title of the post.

A customer on her way into the store saw the helicopters and asked, “What’s going on?”

“I don’t know ma’am,” I replied. “They removed the chip in my head that gives me access to their communications, so I’m as puzzled as you are.”

In other news, a friend of mine may have been terminated. He had his issues, but there was really nothing in his behavior that really prompted a termination. If anything, I too often act as though as I have the lock and file on being the company punching bag. But for a good chunk of time, this poor guy who really did the best he could, was the recipient of a lot of abuse on the sales floor. So if I ever reach a point where I can be as detailed as I like about where I work, I hope you, the managing body of Generimart one day read this.

When you fired him, you fired the only person who is willing to take your shit and doesn’t have the ability to stick up for himself. Confrontations used to bother me too, but now you don’t have a company punching bag. And you’ve already seen what a hassle I can kick up just when one of you steps out of line and as I understand it, you don’t like it when company policy gives me that right. You think you’re immune, but the people on the top have the farthest to fall, so you should really start acting like you’re as vulnerable as the rest of us. Consider this my PSA for SOB’s.

On a slightly less confrontational note, by the end of July, I will no longer be a cart jockey, but a cashier. I got tired of the shit I was putting up with for two years as a cart jockey and I finally played the Asperger’s card when a customer threatened me in the parking lot late one night. I won’t go into details, but store security took the report, and I was able to threaten to get that report subpoenaed so I could show it to my “doctor”, who would site the cart jockey position as being too stressful for my health and therefore write me a note saying that they have to put me on the cash register, as that’s a “light duty” position. Never underestimate the power of a little legal jargon, especially when you have a few big sticks up your sleeve.

I’m going to end this one on a shameless pimping for my brother’s blog. Daryll has been working on several language videos in an attempt to make the world a little less ignorant. Personally, I believe that it will give people even more signs to not read and therefore do stupid things, but I applaud his effort.

Check out his blog at Dare Mick.

Although the TV would have been heavier

As I mentioned in my last post, illegal dumping happens all the time. People leave bags full of trash, empty liquor bottles and appliances all over our side of the parking lot because they are convinced that gnomes must take care of them in the middle of the night. Not so. We also share our side of the mall with Best Buy, so it’s a guarantee that depending on whose shopping cart we found the crap in, one of our stores will have to take care of the trash or it will just be, there. We might also get complaints from mall security, but either way, we just can’t leave a cart full of trash in the parking lot for long.

In the past, whenever I find stuff like this in one of our shopping carts, I will bring it to the back room where we a special closet for holding appliances that need to be sent back to the warehouse or recycled.

This is one of those rare instances where I will actually admit to wrong doing. Because I was the opening cart jockey and one of our shopping carts just happened to have three television sets from various eras of the home entertainment system industry. One large one was in the carriage portion of the cart and a smaller set balanced on top of it. The third one is irrelevant, because it was on the ground beside the cart so forget I said anything.

I had a good reason for not taking care of this at first. That’s because the action itself is time consuming. There wasn’t enough wind to cause it to move with so much weight in side of it and as this was early in the morning on a universally recognized payday, the store was quite busy. Going to the backroom when the receiving department was essentially Grand Central would have taken more time and energy than I had at the moment, and since all the cart was doing was blocking the use of one non-handicapped parking space and not in danger of preventing emergency services from getting access to the store, my primary focus had to be on the shopping carts and the other front end tasks.

As the day wore on and the customer traffic maintained a steady flow, thanks in part to the beach weather, I had a few opportunities to get the cart and take care of it, but I didn’t for an entirely different reason; I felt like being a dick. Sometimes when I’m closing, the opening cart jockey will leave so much crap for me to do that I literally spend about an hour of the evening figuring out what they didn’t get done. So now and again I will deliberately find stuff that I can get away with ignoring, knowing full well that they’ll have to take care of it and that they won’t be able to say anything because our shitty management will unwittingly support my decision with a their patented approach of ignorance and hand waving.

This logic could have backfired tremendously, however, as I came back from my half hour and stepped outside to see a seven year-old going to push the cart with the televisions. The one on top wasn’t exactly secure and it would have been Russian roulette trying to decide how it would have fallen. So I called out to the boy and asked him not to touch it, rushing to his side the cart out of harm’s way and take care of it the way I should have done sooner.

The kid’s mom had just parked her car and was getting out, so this wasn’t a case of what the hell is a kid doing in the parking lot by himself. He was just grabbing one of the other stray carts that had been left in the parking space and he thought it would be a good idea to push a cart full of TV’s that were older than he was. So no, this was definitely my fault and it could have ended so much worst because I just had to the take the piss out of another coworker.

Maybe this post will server as a cautionary tale to other would be “pranksters”, if that term applies. Nothing you do in a public place is a free action. Be prepared for consequences and decide ahead of time if they will be worth the merest possibility of getting minute satisfaction.

A Treasure Trove and a Riddle

One of these days I am going to do a photo series of all of the stuff I find in the parking lot of Generimart. Not everything exactly, but the stuff that I keep like the toys. The pinnacle of that collection will no doubt be the box of books I found yesterday.

Illegal dumping is one of those things that’s impossible to enforce, because even if someone was caught doing it, then what? They’d get a fine and no one would expect that they would be the ones who got caught. And as screwed up as the world is right now, we could only pray for a time when someone dumping their trash in the parking lot of their local mall is the worst thing on the minds of our area’s finest.

The box was not there when I went into the store, but when I emerged after a fifteen minute break, there it was in one of our shopping carts. As I approached it, I saw the back cover of a book that was strangely familiar. Sure enough, the Botticelli Angel that is a significant part of two of my favorite books in The Vampire Chronicles stared out at me through the opening of the box that had once carried bottles of wine.

On further investigation, I discovered that every single book save one was an Anne Rice novel. That one was a guide to Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. Not every book was a Vampire Chronicle, however. There was Lasher, Ramses the Damned, Exit to Eden, Angel Time, and the Sleeping Beauty trilogy. In other words, I just happened to stumble upon a treasure trove. The challenge, as with all treasures, became which of these things would I take with me.

Lately, I have not been a very adventurous reader, preferring to stick with books I have read and authors who have not disappointed me. Anne Rice is like an old friend from high school who made a very difficult four years so much easier to deal with. Yet while I would gladly re-read every one of the Vampire Chronicles, Ramses the Damned, and the Wolf Gift Series, I just don’t have the energy to try any of the new stuff like the Angel series and the Erotica.

There was also the matter of having to carry these things home to my small place, which is currently under siege by an army of bloodsuckers who are not as welcome in my home as the Coven of the Articulate.

So, if Anne Rice should come upon this blog post, I truly hope that she will not be offended that I only took the books that I knew I would read. Of the remaining books, I took them to the donation bin at the edge of the parking lot where I knew that someone who would love them as much as I loved the Vampire Chronicles would get the chance to partake.

There’s an epilogue to this tale. On my way home, I stopped at the 7/11 and this bizarre occurrence took place. When I was the last customer in the store, I bought a hot dog and a small root beer. The clerk was Middle Eastern and I guess I just gave off that friendly, non-threatening vibe that I sometimes wish I could turn off, because while I was getting the condiments for my hot dog, this exchange took place.

Clerk: I have chest pains. Should I see a doctor?

Me: Um… I don’t know, is it serious?

Clerk: No, it’s not serious. I have an appointment with the doctor, but I still feel pain.

Me: Okay. My skills as a cart jockey at Generimart don’t really qualify me to give medical advice. So if you’re concerned, you probably should see a doctor.

Understand, that I wasn’t trying to be rude or off putting to this guy. He was getting a little clingy, which I chalked up to just making sure I didn’t go wild with the pickles and the ketchup. I tried being patient, if not friendly, because there was one other customer in the store, but when you get right down to it there’s only one clerk here and I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable. Then he starts asking me whether every Generimart in the area is hiring, to which I reminded him that I was just a lowly cart jockey. No, I couldn’t get him in with my manager, as he asked, and what was I going to say exactly? “Oh yeah, I met this guy once at a 7/11. He’s great at asking for medical advice from barely qualified strangers.”

I wish him the best, I really do. I just honestly hope I never get that hungry again.