Bagging School For Grocery Checkout!

Now, wait a second.  I KNOW I bought a package of sliced cheese the other day.  Where IS it?!

Lo and behold, I finally find it at the bottom of the sack of bathroom supplies upstairs, that I haven’t put away yet.

Maybe nobody will notice, I tell myself, as I sheepishly put the wilted package in the cheese drawer of the fridge.  And I wonder, Don’t they send those grocery people to bagging school?

Do I suffer from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, for those who are acronym-impaired), or can anyone relate to wanting refrigerated items together, frozen items together, cleaning supplies separate, etc.?  I actually load the moving belt at the grocery store checkout exactly as I want it bagged, because I have little faith in the store’s policy for Bagging School.  (Of course, the belt isn’t always moving, because that requires a little coordination and thinking ahead, which isn’t always in play…if you know what I mean.)  And they STILL bag my cosmetics with the frozen shrimp!  What a world.

Don’t get me wrong, though.  I love grocery cashiers.  I was once one myself!  I lacked many social graces at the tender age of 18.  My focus was speed.  At that age, all I wanted in a checkout line was to get through it fast.  Nowadays I tend to live in the moment, looking for someone to have a conversation with…a laugh, at least.  But back in my younger days as a New York “Yankee,” it was all about speed.

I remember a particularly busy day, working the old-fashioned, push-button cash register.  I was flying people through the line, whizzing groceries along the counter, pecking numbers furiously on the register, only looking up to give change and say “Hello!” and “Bye!” in one breath.

At one point in a moment of looking up, I noticed the cashiers beside me laughing and having conversations with their customers.  Their lines were only one or two customers long.  I looked down my line…ten customers, at least.

What the…?  Ah, the people in my line don’t care for pleasantries.  They just want speed.

I gladly whooshed them through.

When I first moved to the South, I still had this “speed demon” inside me.  Everything had to happen now…and fast.  Surveying the field of grocery cashiers for the one who seemed the fastest became my gambling venture of choice.  Sadly, I was very bad at it.  Every time I thought I got on a fast line, something would cause a delay…a check that needed to be verified…a price check…you name it, I was in that line.

I gradually realized it was a losing game all around.  The cashiers were in no hurry, so why should I work myself into a frenzy over their snail’s pace?  I decided to go with the flow, and started looking around me, to make jokes and conversation with neighboring customers in the line.  I found this to be a lot more enjoyable—not getting agitated—just making the most of my “gambling losses.”

I’m so “Southern” now, I don’t even try to hurry.  There’s no point, and it isn’t worth the frustration.  I’ve actually begun to empathize with the cashiers I encounter.  I know they’ve been standing on their feet for hours, putting up with all kinds of annoyances with customers.

I try to do what I can, to encourage a positive encounter with them.  I try to make eye contact, so I can ask them how they are, and talk about how busy or slow it is, or whatever else comes to mind for a pleasant conversation.  Some cashiers are good at initiating these pleasantries, but most need an encouraging word, to brighten their day.

But most of all, I try to make bagging easier for them, so it’s not a major mechanical engineering challenge!

I’ve resigned myself to saying nothing about their bagging.  I simply rearrange items as I place the bags in my cart.  (I hope the cashiers don’t find this too annoying.)

Just call me OCD.  But I really think they should be required to attend Bagging School, don’t you?


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