The Rude Cashier

I shop at my friendly neighborhood big box store.

Because it’s summer and we drive the countryside nonstop from play dates to parks to the library to our friends’ houses, I went in to get some moderately-healthy travel-friendly kid-friendly snacks like peanut butter crackers, pretzel sticks, and cereal. I had a list; I also needed to pick up frozen waffles (My girls have them a lot at a friend’s house, and they love them. They are very easy to prepare, so I love them too.), frozen pizzas (for a lunch treat now and then), high fiber granola bars, peach-flavored instant oatmeal, and apples.

I let Grace get two things that weren’t on my list: a tiny bag of Cheetos and a box of Trix cereal (because it was the sugary cereal option with the least sugar per serving), both of which I will ration with Fort Knox-like control.

rude cashier

We made our way through the store and into the checkout line without incident, but when we arrived at the cash register, Grace began to whine and beg began.

Can I please, please have this special Hello Kitty toy?

What is it, Mom?

Can I have this if I’m really good?

Please, Mom?

I told her that I wasn’t buying the Hello Kitty toy with its attached bag of candy and that she should return it to the shelf in my best “because I said so!” voice.

I’m just going to look at it, okay? she said.

Of course, looking quickly turned into more whining, and I had get serious. “If you ask me for that one more time, I am going to put back your Cheetos. You have enough junk food already.”

Without missing a beat, the elderly cashier said, “It seems to me that everything in your cart is junk food.”

Oh.

Well then.

I look at her and cooly said, “I can’t believe you just said that to me,” but my mouth didn’t move, so I guess I only said it in my head.

I hadn’t thought far enough ahead to say, “I am so writing about you on my blog,” so I fumbled for something else to say. “Oh, my husband buys the healthy food, and I pick up the rest.” I forced, completely mortified.

Once I was outside and away from the situation, I burned with anger. How dare she?

For one thing, everything in my cart was not junk food. I had apples, Crispix, and oatmeal.

For another thing, I flirt precariously with neurotic helicopter mom status when it comes to my kids’ food. I do give them pretzel sticks and goldfish crackers for snacks  sometimes, and even allow candy and soda pop once in a while. Most of the time, though, they get apple slices or whole peaches or grapes alongside low-fat cheese.

And then, what business is it of hers if I fed my children nothing but Sweet Tarts and Mountain Dew?!

By the time I buckled my girls into their car seats, I wanted to march back into the store and demand answers from the rude cashier.

Did she judge my food choices because I’m fat? Because I had children? Because she’s just mean?

Would she have dared to make such a rude comment if I was a man? If I was thin? If I was alone?

With a few days’ clarity, I realize that her rudeness was probably not about me at all. It was about her, about her anger, about her hostility, about her issues. But still, her comment burns in my ears every time I see the pretzel sticks and the goldfish crackers and the peanut butter crackers I bought that day.

Has a cashier ever been rude to you? How did you react?

© 2012, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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Comments

  1. Cindy says

    You need to call her manager. Cashiers absolutely should not be commenting on the contents of customers’ carts. It’s bad for business. I’ve had cashiers look at my pregnancy tests and smirk (why, yes, I do buy them when my kids are with me!), saying something about ” need other things from that department”, and let me tell you, I tattled on them. It’s not their business to look at your purchases. It’s their business to ring them up and collect your payment.

    Anyhow, if you’re comfortable with what you’re feeding your kids (and I’m in the same boat as you. I try to make it healthy 90% of the time, but I don’t freak out over a can of pop every now and then), you don’t need to worry about what some lady at the mega-mart thinks of you. <3

  2. says

    Oh, this makes ME angry. There is no reason you should have to defend what you were buying! I can’t recall right off hand if I’ve ever had such a rude cashier… I’m thinking I probably did but, if so, he or she hasn’t merited any memory space, so that’s good. :) I’ll admit it– there are situations when I’ve wished certain children were fed healthier food… my nephew who was given soda as a baby and tons of junk and got out-of-breath walking across the room as a toddler comes to mind. So, yeah, if you were feeding your children only Sweet-Tarts and Mountain Dew, I might be judging in you my mind, even though I probably wouldn’t say anything. (Sorry– it’s not right, but it’s true.) But I know you’re not. And oatmeal and pretzel sticks and, heck, even Trix cereal are a far cry from candy and soda. I’m sorry you had to deal with that. :(

  3. Kathleen says

    Wow! I don’t understand why people would say things like that. It’s none of their business what you cook for your family or how you eat. I’ve had people tell me that I shouldn’t eat white rice because apparently it’s “bad” for you. Nevermind that I spent several years in Korea, eat Korean food several times a week (which is actually really healthy) and own a japanese rice cooker…Oh no, they know what’s best for me!

    Don’t let it get to you. I agree that her comment probably had nothing to do with you.

  4. says

    Oh the nerve of some people. I am so sorry that happened to you.
    I had to read this to my hubby too.
    We agree. Cashiers should not make comments about what we are buying one way or another.
    I would have blogged about it too. In fact, I’m pretty sure I have done just that. I love being able to vent via the powerful pen or blog in our cases.
    Here’s what I have to say to you, “at least you can hold your head high, because you are kind and would never be mean like that!”

  5. Vanessa says

    Last time I had one, I reacted poorly, but I think that I got my point across. My son is 18 and heading to bootcamp in a few months. He and I were joking about how his DI would have nothing on me when the cashier piped up how horrible it was that I allowed my son to join the military and that he would get what was coming to him for killing innocents. I smiled real big and leaned in, raised my voice and told her: Well, at least he learned to brush his teeth and use a mint when his breath smelled as bad as his attitude. She left the lane crying and we got a new cashier. The store manager was the new cashier and when I explained what had happened, with the people in line behind us adding more to it, he apologized, offered a card for free groceries. I said no, and moved on.

  6. Amanda says

    Most private owned business employers are polite, unfortunately I waited in line at two and recieved bad service.
    I was in line at a small meat market and grocery, I overheard the owner — yes, the owner!– speak loudly and casually using the F word to one of his employees. They were joking around.
    He may be the owner with noone is position over him and his store does very well, but he STILL HAS TO BE PROFESSIONAL!

  7. Amanda says

    THE CENSORED COPY (I apologise about the first one)
    Then there was the rude cashier at the drugstore.
    I returned makeup at a drugstore from a major chain, the ad in the magazines say money back gaurantee for cosmetics.
    I returned the makeup with their packages, and the cashier agressively slammed each makeup item on the counter as she typed in her computer/cash register. She didn’t look at me the whole time and I left offended and mad like ” what just happened and how did she get her job?”.

  8. David says

    This happens to me alot in Florida. The cashiers will say something saracastic like.. That is not a healthy lunch, which happened the other day. I bought a banana and a pack of oreos during my lunch break. One time a black lady who is regularly unfriendly, inspects this dessert I bought and other time she said I only buy dessert food for lunch. I went off on the lady and said it was rude and the other lady at the beginning of my rant, I told her flatly, it is none of her business what I buy. Disgusting. People should just say How are you and take it from there. Think its a Florida thing

  9. says

    Immediately upon reading the first few lines I felt a little odd, thinking to myself: Why is it my business what you’re buying? (my very immediate thought after that was that it must have some correlation to the title lol) That was my natural first reaction, and should be anyone’s, especially in that position. I was a cashier for a very long time in my early adulthood. Even then I knew better than to bother looking at what was going through the register, let alone judge it.

    The worst, most rudest cashier I’ve ever encountered was not actually rude to me, but to the older couple ahead of me in a line at a Walmart. We’re in the south. The cashier was white. The couple were not. And they had a touch of island accents. The gentleman was having difficulty with the card machine which was clearly irritating the cashier. And though the woman with him asked for a gas card the cashier gave her a gift card. When the woman (who was astonishingly polite and kind, so much so that I really wondered if she understood what the cashier was doing) tried to clear up the misunderstanding the cashier got worse, to the point of visibly shaking, and between her ugly mumbled comments she would look to me as if I would collaborate in some way. I’m white, so I can only imagine she felt that I should “feel her pain”. I cannot begin to fathom that which brings about such hatred, so I don’t bother to dwell on it long.

    Out of sheer will I did not go off on this woman, it wouldn’t have solved anything, but I could barely breathe as she rang up my small order, and I refused to look her in the eye. She made comments about how “those people” were trying to make her look bad, yadda, blah. And I came back with something southerners like to think they have a lock down on, biblical advice. Anyway I tried hard to get out as soon as possible to catch the couple and tell them I would happily go with them to customer service to report the cashier (there’s no way anything would come of it if they were to complain alone, sadly), but I couldn’t find them anywhere. I can only assume they were parked in a handicapped parking and got out quickly.

    To this day I wish I had been able to find them and take their hand to give them my deepest respects. As kind of a person as I like to think I am, I do NOT think I could have been so sweet as the woman in front of me was that day. I take solace in the fact that someone so intelligent and patient understands that not all pigmentally challenged people are like that.

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