Let me check you out.
Please dump your $2.50 bag of unwashed potatoes on the conveyor belt and watch as I pick it up and move it from my right-side to my left-side.
It’s a highly dangerous, high-flying job and I’ve become awfully good at it. And when I say awfully good, I mean to say is it’s an awful thing to become good at. It is of course neither dangerous nor professional, and even idiots who can’t spell RSI can do it. Trust me, I’ve met them.
I didn’t always dream of becoming a check-out chick, instead I had self-esteem and some sort of belief that things would never get that bad.
In Year Three at school I was a superstar. I often reminisce about it; that time when I found out I was good at archery because after five attempts I actually hit something other than the giant boulder behind the board itself. I knew then that I was destined for greatness. I was going to be a successful, cashed-up archer in the manner of Robin Hood, with slightly less style and significantly less courage and intention for goodwill.
I had held onto this dream all through my schooling life and of course, like any good dream, I did nothing to aid in the actual furtherance of it, stubbornly believing that natural talent ought to do its own thing, with no discernible effort on my part.
It’s the same old story though, isn’t it? High schooler graduates and cannot possibly foresee any future aside from living in parents basement and/or partaking in a series of menial jobs until unexpected lotto win.
Unquestionably terrified of the first option, and too impatient to wait out the second, like a natural-born businesswoman I managed to secure a casual position with a well-respected supermarket chain. ‘Well-respected’ in this instance, of course, simply means said company has a budgetary allowance so huge they can, and do, pay obscure, otherwise unsuccessful bands a nauseating amount of money to write jingles that are with you until you’re knocking at death’s door, begging for some earplugs. (Aisle five, if you’re interested).
Fast-forward three years and here I am. I haven’t changed much with the exception of a few impulsive ‘I-need-a-change-in-life’ hairstyles; however, I have been witness to most of my colleagues going through puberty right beside me and then of course, moving on to something better. Meanwhile I’ve been in charge of wiping baby vomit off the registers at least twice, but I’m not sure if that can be grouped under the same category of moving up in life.
Everyday is a revolving door of the same people buying the same things, asking them the same questions (“Are you paying by card today?”) and hearing the same answers (Most people: “Yes.” Every senior citizen: “No”). Our duty, should we choose to accept it, is to refrain from passing judgement on every transaction we process. We stand smiling politely as customers pay for their shopping even though it totals more than our weekly wage. We hand over cigarettes to people who look like they have already passed their own used-by date. We pretend not to notice your children man-handling the chocolate display we tidied moments ago, and we assume that when you can’t pay the full amount, those two bottles of Coke were obviously essential items as opposed to the bag of dog food you have asked to leave out.
All in all, it’s not easy being customer-service-officer-in-charge-of-transactions. It’s a fast-paced job, with a never-ending queue of people desperately needing our services. Yes, you may refer to us as ‘checkout chicks’ but we are so much more than that. Yes, we could essentially be replaced by an automated computer system, but as long as there are junkies attempting to shoplift and unexpected items in the bagging area then we will continue to step up the plate to serve you. It’s a hectic place where no two days are the same.
Actually, everyday is almost exactly the same.
Have you ever stood in the same exact place for four hours straight?
It’s called being at work.
Now hand me your microwavable nuggets so I can go home.