Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers
There’s only one register open at Wegmans, and it’s a little bit slow. E and I can handle it though, and while we wait, a pregnant mother of 3 kids pulls her cart behind me. Her toddler keeps throwing things on the floor. So, when it’s my turn to put groceries on the belt, I ask her if she wants to go in front of me.
“No, that’s okay. They need to learn to be patient.”
“Are you sure?” I ask, “I only brought one of my kids with me today, so you are welcome to go first.”
“Nope, I’m kinda hoping they open another register. Usually they open registers when there are lines.”
The cashier rings up my groceries, and the woman has to start loading hers.
“Can you get those things on the bottom? No the bottom. The very bottom of the cart.” She explains to her kids. “Grab the milk from your sister before she drops it.”
I’m pulled out of my noticing by the cashier complaining about the line. She needs a price check for one of my items, so now she is the only cashier and her lamp is blinking. Another worker walks by, and my cashier yells after her.
“Is anyone going to help me?”
The woman walks away, saying “I’m going to accounting.”
“It would be great if you said something.” the cashier tells me. “That will make them listen. This is crazy. I’m all by myself.”
I nod. “It really puts the pressure on you.”
“That’s true.” she says to me, and then turns her head towards customer service, calling out the name of her manager. “I could use some help!”
Her voice is stressed, and snippy. The manager looks up, takes a deep breath and says “I’m with a customer. And then I can help you.”
The cashier grumbles to me some more, and I don’t really know what to say, so I just tell her that it must be so hard. The manager walks over, a smile on her face, asking what she can do to help me.
“I’m the only one on register.” the cashier says as the manager walks away, looking for the price we need. When she gets back, she asks the cashier if the item got on my order.
“I have no idea. I’m the only one on register. Can someone please come help over here?”
The manager checks that the item is now on my order, turns to the cashier and talks in a very patient voice, “More people are coming on. It will be okay.” She walks away.
“I hope your day gets better.” I tell the cashier as I walk away. E looks at me, eyes wide and rolling a little. It’s the look he gives me when we witness something a little odd. So, we talk a little about how hard it must be to be the only cashier, and how hard it must be to be the manager trying to get other people on the registers. In my head I think about how patient the manager was, and how stressed out the cashier was. I wonder if this was supposed to teach me something. Is it ironic that the manager was all smiles to me, and on the patronizing side of patient with her employee? I don’t know. But, I noticed.
E reads this over my shoulder. “That’s sad” he says, and then, “Why are you writing about Wegmans? Write about something else.”
4 thoughts on “A slice at the Grocery Store”
I never learned how to operate a cash register, but I had part-time jobs at three restaurants when I was much younger. I was more of a busboy/dishwasher type.
Oh, I know you were telling a story about patience and human relationships, but all I could think about was Wegman’s. My daughter and her husband were in Ithaca for two years and Wegman’s was a shopper’s dream. I still think about it. Lucky you!
E learned lots of lessons today… not just about treating others with kindness but that our writing can be about anything!
Used to work at Wegmans in upstate New York.