Give your cashier some credit

Kristin Boyles, Contributing Writer

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It’s easy to forget that those who work as cashiers or in food establishments are people, too. Whether they’re teenagers or grown-adults is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if they could – if you think they should – have a better job.

Just because someone has an hourly-paid job doesn’t mean they deserve to be treated like the center console in your car: as a garbage can. It’s concerning that there are people in this world who continue to act like cashiers or waiters are, somehow, beneath them.

As both an ex-fast food worker and current cashier at a grocery store, I can personally confirm that there is an excessive amount of people that just simply do not seem to care – about us, about our well-being, or our livelihoods.

Angry grocery-shoppers will find anything and everything to be upset at. Is the register belt dirty because, hey, food and household items can be a bit dusty or unclean in their packaging, and you just haven’t had time to clean it because it has been a hectic day?

Too bad. Stand there and clean it in front of them, then proceed to dry it because, who would have thought, now the belt is wet. All the while, there are numerous people standing in line and watching while one person complains and demands you do this.

And you, as such a lowly-cashier, have to listen; the customer is always right. Otherwise, you put your job at risk, or at least set yourself up to be reprimanded. So what’s easier, listening to the customer treat you like garbage, bowing to their every demand, or being defiant?

Unfortunately, it almost always ends with the cashier feeling insulted and embarrassed. There are limited options, and some battles just aren’t worth fighting. But, sometimes, I think they should be.

Just because the bagger didn’t put the items in your bags correctly – hey, they aren’t mind-readers! – does that justify spouting off at them? Or, perhaps, the drive-thru order is taking more than three minutes, and somehow that is the cashier’s fault, despite the fact that they aren’t the one preparing the food. Is that reason enough to degrade their very-being as they stand in that drive-thru window and listen to you rant and rave about how long your food is taking?

To put it simply, no, this sort of behavior is never justified. Cashiers at grocery stores, drive-thru employees, waiters and waitresses, among others, are people, too, and they deserve to be treated as such.

It is one thing to have a complaint, and to voice said complaint to the person at-hand, which may or may not be the cashier, as opposed to someone at management-level.

There are plenty of individuals who know how to express a grievance or concern without bashing the employee, and yet, there are plenty more who take their frustrations out on us for things that are, more often than not, out of our control. And if they aren’t, they are simple mistakes that can easily be fixed with better communication.

Cashiers, servers, cooks: they deserve respect just as much as the consumers. They are the ones preparing the food, taking your order or cashing out your items. They are the ones who are there for you when you need them because it is their job.

And it’s easy to forget that we have lives, and feelings, too. It’s easy to take our anger out on unsuspecting bystanders, like the cashier at the store, or to be nit-picky about every little thing. But, let us not forget that these workers are oftentimes putting their best effort into a not-so-great part-time job.
We are not expendable. Those of us in lower-paying jobs are often working to pay for school or working multiple jobs to help pay the rent, and we are integral to your everyday lives. Without the fast-food workers, or the cashiers, or the baggers, so many of the things we take for granted every day would simply cease to be.

That burger you had a craving for at 11 p.m.? There wouldn’t be one. The luxury of having someone put your groceries in a bag for you wouldn’t exist. These people, who may seem like they have a joke of a job, are the ones doing a service for the consumer. In this case, they deserve the utmost respect.

There is a time and place for addressing complaints, but it is most probably not causing a scene in the middle of your order on a busy day.
Be polite to the hourly-paid workers who you visit consistently at stores or restaurants. Trust me, expressing criticism in a nice and respectful way is much more likely to result in the outcome you desire.

Be grateful that, in doing so, both you the consumer, and me the employee, worked together to create a lasting impact upon the establishment.

Kristin is a Secondary Education English major and a contributing writer for The Voice.