Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Humdinger of a Sale

My first real part-time job was at the age of 16 as a cashier at a national discount store way back in the early 80's.  Back in that day, you had to key in all of the code numbers on a price tag in order to ring up the price.  Because the store didn't want customers waiting in long lines at the cash register, they required you to undergo 10-key-by-touch training, shoplifter security training, and pass a test before they'd allow you to work for them.  

shopping, store, Target, cashier, job
Public Domain image courtesy of

In addition to the training , we also had to learn the preset phrases for greeting customers, taking their money, and closing their purchase.  "Hi! How are you today?  Will this be cash, check, or charge today?", "Your total purchase today is.....", and that ever popular "Thank you and have a nice day!" still stick with me 30+ years later.  Those phrases became so ingrained in me, I could spout them without even having to think about it. 

Being a cashier, I got to meet all sorts of people.  I had customers who were friendly, unfriendly and some who were grossly over-friendly.  Ones who questioned every price on every item, and others who would add one of everything from the point-of-purchase display in the checkout line.  Even had some who only put one item at a time on the conveyor belt so they could watch you ring up every part of their purchase.

Some jobs are mundane and boring, but this job definitely had its funny moments.  When store security would be hot on the trail of a shoplifter and the person in question would come through my lane, I'd invariably get a phone call from security.

I'd answer the phone and hear "We are following a white female in your line who has shoved clothes down her pants to make a fake fat butt.  She has on a very large pair of carpenter pants that are bulging at every pocket and a purple top that has items stuffed under it to make her look like she's pregnant.".

With a comical description like that I had to glance at the people standing in my line to see if I could pick the thief out of the line-up.  Security on the phone would yell "Don't look!".  I'd reply with a "Sooooo what?  You're just calling to say I shouldn't ask what her due-date is?". 

I even had funny family moments.  Like when a husband and wife with 8 daughters in tow decided to take advantage of that week's sale.  Each daughter had a grocery cart, as did each parent.  Each one of those carts was fully loaded with maxi pads....... and not a single price sticker on any of the boxes.

That poor father of 8 not only had to be in a train of carts pushing feminine hygiene products through the entire store, but then had to stand there while I paged on the store intercom for a price check on maxi pads for Lane 8.  I apologized to the man.  He smiled and said "It's not a problem, I just keep thinking of how much money I'm saving.  With 8 girls, plus my wife, there's always someone with a raging case of PMS, so a price check is really no big deal in comparison.".

The all-time funniest experience in that job, and yet most embarrassing for a young naive 16 year old girl, was when a single man came through my line.  I greeted him with the well ingrained company line of "Good Evening! How are you today?", and proceeded to begin ringing up his small number of items. 

To this day I still remember that transaction.  A 2 liter bottle of Coca-Cola, a bag of Doritos, a big bag Hershey's Kisses and under the bag of chocolate was a box of condoms.  I tried to hide my mirth and remain professional throughout the transaction. Quite proud that I'd held myself in check, and without thinking, I concluded the sale with the company line "Thank you and have a nice evening!".

With a grin on his face and a wink of his eye, he replied "Thank you!  I'm planning on it........".  This young redhead blushed bright red from the top of my head to the tips of my toes.  And that's when I learned that sometimes a simple "Thank you" is more than enough.


  1. Lol, love it Christie!!! I never got guys that would hide them among their other purchases....hell I was happy to be needing them!
    It's funny how those phrases get so ingrained, ever answer your home phone with your work greeting? I used to do it all the time...usually when I just absentmindedly answered. "Thank you for calling Gell's sporting goods, how can I help you today?"
    Only to hear "Uhhh I thought I called you at home..." Lol

    1. LOL! I think I wouldn't have wanted to laugh so hard had I not been surprised.

      Oh yes! I have answered my home phone many, many times with my work spiel. My family and friends have always gotten a big charge out of it. If they give me too hard of a time, I'll just throw in a "would you like large fries with that order of baloney?".

  2. Customer service is full of funny stories! Probably because you have to be able to laugh to live through it!

    1. Gosh! That is no lie! If you can't laugh about it, you'd go crazy.

  3. Haha, the big butt/pregnant lady one made me laugh out loud! And the security yelling "Don't look...!" hilarious! XD

    And the last one.... XD

    What took you so long to write this post? :D