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Thursday, February 23, 2012


My wife and I have been involved in the grocery business for years.  While in college in the 1960’s, she was a checker for Kroger’s and many years later worked the checkouts for Safeway in Scottsdale.  I was a salesman to the grocery trade at the headquarters and retail level for twenty years.

As a peddler, I had my share of headaches in the job but no more than peddlers in any other profession.  My wife, however, had to deal with the eccentricities of customers who knew nothing of the grocery business or, for that matter, about working at the retail level of any job.

Phil Hawkes writes for the Arizona Food Industry Journal and has listed a number of ways to annoy a supermarket checker.  Ever since I went to work in the supermarket business, I have had the utmost respect for the checkers of the world.  If I was in their position, I probably would have smeared more than one lemon meringue pie in some customer’s faces but the checkers I have seen over the years possess the patience of Job and I admire that.

I’m sure you have had the displeasure of seeing some of these antics if you have spent much time shopping in a supermarket:

(1)  I hate cellphones anyway but when I see someone yapping on one while holding up a checkout line, I hate them even more.  I have even seen customers “shushing” the checker while they are on the phone.

(2)  Don’t complain about being carded for alcohol.  The checker dislikes asking you as much as you dislike being asked.  It’s her/his job so let it go.

(3)  Use the dividers to separate your order from the person behind you.  It’s easy to do and speeds things up.  Is that asking too much?

(4)  If the check stand light is off, don’t use it.  Remember:  Off, no.  On, yes.  It’s like at Halloween.  If the resident didn’t want you ringing their doorbell, the porch light would be off.

(5)  There are still those who write checks at the check stand.  If you must do this antiquated practice, have the check filled out except for the amount when you pay.  Also, PLEASE do not balance your checkbook at the check stand.

(6)  Don’t be the food stamp shopper who buys porterhouse steaks and king crab legs with them.

(7)  Don’t wait until the checker has bagged your order before saying you brought your own bags.

(8)  Don’t load the check stand with groceries then tell the checker, “I only have $80 so stop when you get there.”

(9)  Don’t argue with the checker when your debit or credit cards don’t work.  That’s your problem, not theirs.

There are more irritants in the thankless job of being a supermarket checker but you get the idea.  I don’t think it is too much to ask for everyone to apply a bit of common sense while shopping.

Whew!  I feel a lot better now having said this!


midnightsstaff said...

what?- now you want us to act responsibly??- after all we are the potential customers here- those pesky checkers are the serfs in the grand scheme, sure they are working, they work for me... if anyone needs some reprogramming it's these snobby checkers...
Say if I as a customer feel comfortable allowing my five kids to run wild down the aisles - if I encourage them to maul the candy bars, magazines and anything else in their reach putting the mauled goods back and getting a fresh one- so be it... that is just preparing them for a lifetime of the new government encouraged behavior expectations, besides the filthy jew owned capitalist store is cheating everyone and making a fortune and so a few items get destroyed, that's just part of running a business- hell it's a write off.. likewise if I refuse to give little Johnny a swat on his ass when he throws a temper tantrum or when I refuse to pay for whatever he is mauling while in the checkout line.. who's my judge? after all I'm the customer here!!- wtf?-- what happened to "the customer is always right"?- that comes right out of the Constitution I think..
BTW- what is this "carding" that you speak of?- I could only wish some babe would ask for my ID when I'm trying to buy a sixer of Falstaff and a bag of chips for lunch, but instead they act all offended when I ask them if they have had lunch yet?- watch that mouth mama...get all lippy with me and I might mention that missing a few lunches might be good thing for her -a checker should know her place.
.. it's bad enough she acts like she has some time related issue while I am counting out the coins to pay for them..
think it's bad now?- just wait until it gets hot and I stop taking showers every day..
and where you get off making me the bad guy just because I act like it's a new concept to actually pay at the checkout.. fumbling around with my wallet while finishing up texting something to my barber and still trying to chat her up- hey she's on the clock, so why is ok for her to go all breaking that white anglo middle class attitude with me?
those people backed up in line behind me need to chill out too- I can hear them... might as well quit with the comments, it just makes me count coins slower..
Done shopping... now to see if the girl scouts will either lower their prices giving me a senior discount or trade cookies for something I might have in the truck- maybe some empty Falstaff bottles- er.. I mean cans...
Yep.. my years of working for the government has certainly changed my attitude how I view working people...
I have been forever liberated from meaningless, self imposed guilt.

Mike Slater said...

Jim,I never take or make a call while in line to check out.
I've only been carded once and I was 27 at the time.
I always use the dividers.
I never to to a line where the lights off.
Those people must have not heard of debit cards.
I hate getting behind a person using food stamps or W.I.C. coupons and then go out and get into a nicer car than I have.
Never take my own bags.
I hate the people that let the checker ring up everything then start taking items off.

I would add one more thing to your list and has to do with the checkers. I chew snuff and on several occasions when they are ringing up my snuff I'm told that that is a bad habit and I should quit. I then inform them that what I buy is none of their business and if I want their opinion I'll ask for it.

Joe Finnerty said...

When checkout clerks ask if I prefer paper or plastic sacks, I say, "Just toss my items in a Gucci Leather bag, please." They smile."Don't you just wish, mister." Yes, I do. I'd be a more frequent customer if they did.

Glo the Dispossessed said...

Man, it took a lot of bobbing and weaving to join the site: couldn't establish a Google account because the mishmash of TOTALLY UNREADABLE LETTERS & NUMBERS they ask you to retype are TOTALLY UNREADABLE. Had to establish a Yahoo account. Couldn't upload a picture because they were too big, so for now Glo is an exclamation point.

I'm too exhausted to respond much to the blog except to say that people in stores talking on cellphones at the TOP OF THEIR VOICES BECAUSE THEY ARE SPECIAL PEOPLE should be dismembered with rusty chainsaws. Machetes are ok for people writing checks instead of having them ready.

Sorry Jim: my latest job loss is making me grumpier than Middy (smile, Middy!).

Jim McAllister said...

Middy, Classic stuff. I only wish they still made Falstaff. I mthink the Girl Scours should discount the Pecan Sandies. They are my fave.

Mike, I agree; it's nobody's business but yours if you are a "Skoal Brother." Barb had a customer with food stamps and WIC who drove a Lexus, had great manicured fingernails, and would buy cream filled doughnuts. Go figure on that! She was probably in the 49.4% of the country who pays no income tax either. It shows how bad the system is when that can happen. Tax the rich? We ought to give them medals for being successful and supporting themselves. Instead, this government wants to punish those who work.

Joe, Gucci leather, huh? "Wouldn't it be loverly" as Eliza Doolittle said.

Glo, "people in stores talking on cellphones at the TOP OF THEIR VOICES BECAUSE THEY ARE SPECIAL PEOPLE should be dismembered with rusty chainsaws." LOL, I agree!

Sorry about the hassle to join the blog. They want people to do that stuff then they make it difficult. I don't understand that logic. Thanks for your patience.

ArizonaDave said...

Jimmy Mac....tell Barb....I not only respect Checker Outers, but I also tell them jokes to make their day go by faster.....they're nice reason to disrespect them or anyone...

My famous joke for them is "DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU CALL A DEER WITH NO EYES?"

Scroll down...

Answer: NO IDEA ...oh well... you have to eat and to eat you have to check out...

Jim McAllister said...

AZ Dave, It's a tough job especially with the senseless cell phone users these days who can't even turn them off for a moment to pay at the checkout. Self important types who take themselves WAAAAY too seriously. Barb got to check in two totally different eras: the 1960s and 2000 to 2009. I remember picking her up from work in the 60s in her Kroger dress uniform. The registers were huge then and no UPC codes. Being an old retail guy, I'm sure you remember. LOL

How about Tiger taking it on the chin today from a guy like Watney.

CJinPhoenix said...

Well, I have been on the receiving end of ugly customers -- people that seem to believe that "customer service" in a job description entitles them to vent whatever their specific problem is all over the server -- so I am generally pretty gentle & understanding in the checkout line myself. And as a customer, I have had a few issues with other customers in the check out line too. Here are a few of my own pet peeves:

*FIRST & FOREMOST: It really irritates me when somebody looks over my groceries & then passes some kind of judgment. For instance, I almost lost it one day when some idiot behind me took very loud issue with the fact that I had a few too many groceries on the belt. I mean, I was not feeling well that day & I literally did not see the sign. It irritates me even when I have not done something wrong & the person making the judgment just doesn't know any better. No, it really, really, really irritates me. Hey, mind your own business & I will mind mine because you probably do not want to hear what I think about you.

*Yeah, it bugs me when someone writes a check nowadays in the checkout line but since those people are, generally speaking, very very old, I try very hard to keep my displeasure to myself.

*ONE LAST THING: If you really must beat or otherwise act like a godless thug towards your children, at least have the decency to do it in private. I would literally rather have kids running wild all around me than to have to experience the opposite extreme vicariously ... Like that guy that spit in his daughter's face in Walmart that day right in front of me.

CJinPhoenix said...

I almost forgot to say: Sorry to hear that about your job, Glo.

Jim McAllister said...

A lot of people in checkout lines can become monsters like people in traffic become. For whatever reason, they become high strung and in a tremendous hurry and we better get out of their way.

I'm glad the check writers have basically disappeared from checkout lines. It wouldn't be so bad if they had the check made out except for the amount but most seemed to think they should do all the filling out at home. I remember when Barb and I got married in 1967, we never dreamed of paying with anything but cash. Our first grocery bill (which I still have) was for $54 and included not only food but brooms, mops, cleaners, etc., all the stuff you buy once. We had three carts loaded to the brim! Today, $54 doesn't go very far.

I guess people have to take their kids to the store with them to keep them from burning down the house but there definitely can be incidents caused by that. I've seen more bad behavior than I care to remember.

midnightsstaff said...

Ha- I guess my bombastic hubris was received with mixed results.. good...
yeah. I was only kidding, I treat checkers with the same degree of respect as I do waitresses, I even have a lot of respect for those working a fast food job if they are making a professional attempt..
Have you noticed how many mid to late aged people are now working what used to be exclusively an entry level job? saw a couple at Rat in the Box yesterday, Ethyl was behind the counter to take my order, then she busied herself cleaning tables that were pretty much clean enough.. you could tell that she was there to work and not just pick up a paycheck.. I hope she finds something because I imagine she is looking elsewhere and putting in time. Thanks to the pirates we send to Washington for creating this economy.. the curious thing is now we are waiting for the same people that screwed the system up to fix it...
Based on that thought, who is the real idiot in this equation?

Glo said...

Thanks CJ. yep, 4th kicked-to-the-curb in less than three years. This time? Budget constraints. Bye bye baby.

So here's the bottom line:

If you can get chucked like garbage because you can't do the job, or get chucked even though everyone agrees that it's a necessary job and you're doing fantastic, what is the motivation for trying to do a good job (besides personal satisfaction)? Bad job? Get outa here!!! Great job? Get outa here!!!

The corporate world: the sewage pit of archaic loyalty, honor and integrity.

But I'm not bitter!!!!!!! :)

Jim McAllister said...

Middy, Yeah, it's good that the oldsters work hard and show the young kids how it is done. The only downside in detaching the "Kick me" signs from your ass when you get home!

Glo is right about the corporate world. It just uses people up and spits them out to their satisfaction. It's the sort of thing that happens when the law of supply and demand swings into their favor.