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Are Teen Cashiers Really As Bad As I Think They Are?

Updated on May 9, 2011

In my youth (teens to twenties) I worked in the retail world. That’s right, although my first job was that of a singing busboy, most of my jobs after the first were in retail. It should come as no surprise to anyone who has read my blogs that I was a clothes retail kind of guy. Sure there was a stint as a gift wrapper and I did some time in a box office selling tickets but most of my retail days were spent in the “rag” business (for those of you not in the know, in the clothing side) of retail sales. So at the risk of sounding like an old man, as I maneuver life as a forty-something gay man I get increasingly pissed off at the bad guest service I seem to continually get from sales people. Perhaps my past experience has jaded me but are teen cashiers really as bad as I think they are? – Don’t Get Me Started!

I don’t lie when I say that I was very good at the whole retail thing. This should surprise no one who has ever been waited on or talked to a gay on the phone for service (not that kind of service, puhlease people), you can read that blog here - - you see, like it or not, we gays are just really good at some things. So good in fact that if you know what’s good for you, you’ll always look for the gay when you’re checking out at a store.

At some stores, it’s impossible to get to the gay unless you get the luck of the draw. Such was the case at a recent checkout at Best Buy. At Best Buy you stand in a line and just go to the next cashier available. I had two items so I figured it would be an easy checkout. Boy was I wrong. The slightly overweight and unkempt teenager in her wrinkled uniformed polo shirt barely acknowledged me as I put the items on the counter. She scanned the first item and spoke to the register, “It’s frozen.” I looked at her as she looked at the register and it barely registered in me that she might be talking to me. As I went through my wallet to get the cash to pay her I began doing what any gay does (given the opportunity) I started to make sure all my bills were facing in the same direction and that they went up in value from the singles to the hundred dollar bill in my wallet. After completing my task I looked up at her and she stared right through me and said, “It’s frozen.” So as she continued to stare I couldn’t help but ask, “What does that mean? Does it mean I need to go to another register or something?” In her now annoying voice she repeated herself, “It’s frozen. We have to wait.” And wait we did until the computer was no longer frozen and she took my cash to complete the sale. It was painful.

My mother had an experience recently that was similar. Much to my protest, she continues to frequent a local shop that makes cupcakes that are so far from extraordinary that I’m surprised Betty Crocker hasn’t sued the place for using her mix and frosting and then ripping off the general public to the tune of $3.75 per cupcake. At some point I guess my mother had signed up for an email list from this place and so she would often receive email blasts from them. Usually they included things like the owner having given birth to a new child or other intimate details that I have no idea why a business owner would send out unless they were trying to desperately get business through making everyone their “friend.” One of these emails contained an offer to come in for a free flavor of the month cupcake. And so my mother went into the shop to get her free cupcake. When my mother explained what she was there for, the teen at the counter stared at her as if she was speaking some foreign language. During the very one sided exchange apparently the owner came in with lots of boxes in her arms (no doubt Betty Crocker mix and cans of frosting). The teen made no attempt to assist the owner and as the owner swept by she heard my mother talking to the girl and the owner not stopping said, “Raspberry Red Velvet is the flavor of the month.” Using this as a “jumping off place” my mother again explained the situation to the teen, the email, the free cupcake, flavor of the month and when she was completely exhausted and had had quite enough, she told the teen to go ask the owner. The girl went into the backroom for what seemed like a second and came back with this to say, “She said no.” Had I been there I would have walked but my mother ended up buying a couple cupcakes and leaving unsatisfied by the service and the cupcakes.

With the current economy I can only hope that all jobs become a bit more competitive and so people like the two girls I described will lose their jobs to gayer or at the very least better salespeople who understand what guest service is all about. I loved working in the service industry. I loved helping people put clothes together to make an outfit and just generally talking to so many different people. Somewhere that’s all been lost and it leaves me feeling sad and very old all at the same time. Are teen cashiers really as bad as I think they are? – Don’t Get Me Started!



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    • profile image

      Craig 5 years ago

      Your ignorant if you think "teen cashiers" are bad. I'm Nineteen, I am college educated, and also have 3 years of experience. It's all about the variables of your cashier, if the customer makes things difficult, which usually happens when the customer is using food stamps, and has the IQ of a dog, or can't respond to a simple Hi how are you?

    • profile image

      Tracybison 7 years ago

      I sadly have to agree. It only really makes me mad when I go somewhere I would looove to work at (and have most likely turned in numerous applications) and the girl or guy is just awful. It makes me wonder how he or she has this job (and keeps it!) but I can't even get an interview. I could do so much better. But from a managers position, I guess it's cheaper keep an existing employee than fire them and hire someone else.

      And Michellcat-I agree with you about managers. I've left a few jobs just because the management was so bad I couldn't take it anymore.

    • somelikeitscott profile image

      somelikeitscott 8 years ago from Las Vegas

      Michellcat, I respect your opinion but I'm not too sure about the whole McDonald's thing. Don't know where you're located but if you ever go to an In And Out Burger you will find the teen staff there 95% of the time being happy, accomodating and efficient. I know it exists out there, it just pisses me off that it's the exception and not the norm!

    • Michellcat profile image

      Michellcat 8 years ago

      It also occurs to me, Scott, that you're comparing apples to oranges. Comparing the counter at McDonald's, (a dead-end minimum wage job that you WILL be fired from if you don't ask, "do you want fries with that?" but won't get in trouble for totally botching the order,) with the sales floor at a nice men's wear store, isn't fair. The menswear salesperson makes more, and has at least an outside chance of a promotion someday.

      There is a reason you're not encountering gays at some businesses. they're too awful and depressing for the gay guy to waste his time on. He quit after 5 minutes and went somewhere more rewarding.

    • profile image

      Dennis 8 years ago

      Scott, "I know!. Today I went in the "Sunshine Palace" for a tan and the vapid looking teen at the front counter glanced my way and said "what was your name?" I pondered her gross mis-use of the English language and responded, "My name is now what it has always been, Dennis" Her vacant look turned to confusion and she said "Huh?" Give me gays lots of gays!


    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Scott, sad to say what used to be an entry point to a long career in retail is now just a j-o-b. Temporary...had to take it because there are no openings in "my field" (whatever field the Associate or Bachelor's degree was for).  Hence the lack of enthusiasm and people skills for checkers at Best Buy and other stores.  And don't get ME started on the lack of math skills in today's youngsters!

      dineane, I too am annoyed by up-sale pitches at drive-thrus.  If I'd wanted the additional item they're hawking, I'd've asked for it already!

    • KCC Big Country profile image

      Karen Curtis 8 years ago from Central Texas

      Not too long ago I overheard one cashier talking to the other (while they were ringing up customers!) about how much time she had worked the day before and she was calculating how many hours it was from noon to 4 pm. She kept coming up with 5. The other cashier, knew that wasn't correct, but then couldn't explain it to the other one why is was wrong. She finally told her, "I don't think you count it like that, I can't explain why, but that's how my grandma told me." It worries me that these two young ladies are in charge of cash registers.

    • dineane profile image

      dineane 8 years ago from North Carolina

      I just want to know, does anyone ever go for the up-sale at McDonald's? You know what I mean, pull up to the drive thru and you are greeted with "would you like one of our expensive coffees that we copied from Starbucks today?" Seriously, does this ever work? Annoys the crap out of me.

    • somelikeitscott profile image

      somelikeitscott 8 years ago from Las Vegas

      Well thank you for some even more depressing thoughts (though I guess I knew that the Best Buy Bunch had to have some qualifications) Ugh.

      The thing that gets me is that I loved working retail. I don't know if it's because of Ma Bell as you suggest or just that everyone thinks they should be a star and that their job is just a way to pay for songs on their Ipods. I dunno.

    • Michellcat profile image

      Michellcat 8 years ago

      They're not as bad as you think. They're worse. They're depressed, unmotivated, and they know that they will be fired soon. They won't get a raise for working harder, having a better attitude, or doing more. 

      Worst of all, they're not even teenagers, usually. Best Buy usually requires a 4-year, or at least a 2-year degree to work there. That apathetic girl probably is 24 and has at least an AA Degree in Computer Science. Probably a BA. At our age everyone looks 12.

      So the smarter they are, the worse they are (except for some gay salesmen and waiters.)

      Part of this we can blame on the managers. You never hear the phrase, "the customer is always right" anymore. You hear, "don't let them get away with it-the stinking bums are trying to rob us blind. See if you can cross sell them to a more expensive item, or at least get fries with that." Customer service began its slow grueling death when Ma Bell decided there would be no more coming to their office to pay your bill, and no more face to face transactions of any kind.

      Somehow the customer became synonymous with "people who want to shoot us." Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy!