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7/-3/05

5:30 PM - 9:30 PM EZ Scan

One man, after he had finished his order, walked away and made a gun with his fingers and shot the EZ Scan.

It was much slower in the store than yesterday--more like it has been usually. BO was on the other EZ Scan, and we talked a little. She said she worked 7 am to 12:45 yesterday, and it was busy the entire time, that she went to bed at 1:30 and woke up at 5:30, that she's going to see War of the Worlds tonight. She was leaving at 6, but was worried because CA was scheduled to take over, and she's always late. CA was twenty minutes late, but other people took over at 6, so BO was able to leave on time.

A woman used her last $4 of Food Stamps tonight, and I commented that it goes fast. She said she gets $200 a month, has four kids, and works two jobs. A few other people were also using up the last of their food stamps as well. It reminded me of a comment BX made yesterday, as he bought a few things, that his change--$2.10 was all he had left for the week, but that was in part because he is saving money.

The store was a little messy. A lot of things that were on sale weren't ringing up right, and several times I had to run out to the aisles to check the label. The Thin Man was in again (so I've now seen him every night I worked this week), and was buying Orange juice and peaches, but the orange juice didn't ring up correctly, and he had to catch a bus and so just cancelled his order. I also saw Crazy Bearded Man in the food court, and wonder if he comes in very day.

Two women came in together and were each buying cigarettes. They were obviously over 18, so when the system asked them to show their ID to the cashier, I just asked for their birth date to enter in. But the one woman showed me her ID, because, she said, she had worked as a cashier and knew that they may be watching to make sure I ID 'd them correctly. We both agreed it's pretty easy to tell if someone is old enough. She then decided to get another pack of cigarettes, and in finishing up the order, there was some confusion, and they joked they were sent over just to harass me. Seeing my name tag, they said they knew a Joanna who was a trouble maker.

As usual, I directed people to the bathroom and the drinking fountain. Two men came in asking where the drinking fountain was and then told me they had just walked here from Fayetteville. I asked them if they had to walk back, and they said they were walking home, which was on Lexington Ave.

I closed the express EZ Scan at 9 and gave CA her break. The large EZ Scan was kind of a mess, so I cleaned up a little, perhaps because I can be anal retentive, but also because cleaning up makes the time go faster. I saw CF and told him I didn't get to finishing his cartoon because I was working on another project, and explained a little about a booth I am helping to build to enter into fairs and street festivals. When I told him it was more a political art piece and not to sell craft things, he said he had lots of ideas for political cartoons.

 
7/02/05

6:00 PM -12:00 AM EZ Scan

It was the busiest I've ever seen it in EZScanLand tonight. It was usually full and often there was a line. I printed out a gross report (which is just a small printout on a receipt slip) and 755 orders went through the EZ Scan, 277 during my shift. I had to turn people away at midnight, and even then I had a woman scanning a large order.

Earlier this week I was reading something on the United Food and Commercial Worker's site about self scan registers ( click here) and it described how hectic it was for workers to oversee the needs of four customers at once. I only experienced this a few times on most shifts, when it seemed everyone needed everything at the same time, but tonight I felt like that was all I was doing.

A lot of people were buying a lot of groceries with Food Stamps-- the benefits were all newly replenished for the month, and people were doing their big shopping. One woman and her 10-ish year old daughter came through earlier in the night, and only bought a few things, but then realized that their Food Stamps had come though, so the daughter went first to get Gatorade (10 for 10 sale), which they scanned and paid for, and then she went out and got more stuff. The mother hung back, and wanted to chat, but I was really busy taking care of everything else, so we didn't really have a conversation, only bits and pieces. But she did tell me she just got out of the hospital, and they had told her they would try to transfer her benefits early, and she wished she had known because she would have done more shopping.

A few other customers had trouble with their credit cards. At first, a woman's card was declined twice, and so she said she would go to the cash machine and get cash, but she never came back. Shortly afterwards, another woman had her credit card declined, and she said she just had to run out to the car and get another card from her husband. I didn't entirely expect her to come back, but she did. In both cases I had people in line asking me why they couldn't use that terminal while I waited for these women to return. In fact, it felt like more people than usual were rude tonight, or at the very least, impatient with other people, and impatient with me if I couldn't take care of whatever they needed right away. A middle-aged woman bought three things, and had coupons, but then didn't think her total was right. I went through her order with her once, and then again with a calculator to show her that indeed $3.33 was the right total. While doing this, I had to ID a group buying beer, and hold off another person writing a check, because the check scanning system is still in slow mode and when I run one through I can't do anything else for about 2-3 minutes. Earlier, the Thin Man came through again, and bought several things, each with coupons, but he was very patient with me as I dealt with other people in between helping him.

A lot of kids were also coming through, and I always try to give the younger ones a paid sticker, which they always seem to like. One girl put hers on one of the bags or her mother's groceries, and asked for more--she ended up making a sort of random arrangement on one bag with about ten stickers, and wanted to continue doing this with the other bags, but by that time her mother was ready to go.

Around 11:00, a boy (12?) asked me if I could give him a dollar for change. He had 100 pennies, which I counted out, and then some random change, and I gave him the difference so he could get a quarter. While I was doing this, other guy who is becoming a regular was standing next to the boy, and at first I thought the boy was his son, but he wasn't. After I finished with the dollar exchange, the new regular, who I'll call crazy bearded man ( because I've seen him ranting to himself) bought two cokes but had Coke caps for free cokes. When I see him, he seems to want to talk to me more, but for some reason, of all the odd people I do talk to, this guy sort of scares me so I don't engage as much with him as I would with others.

A woman came up to me and asked me if Folger's coffee and some band name cereal were ten for ten dollars, because they were displayed at an end cap, and a sign hung from the ceiling saying "Ten for Ten, mix and match." I checked the prices, and they were definitely not for sale--each was over three dollars. A different group of people were around this display wondering the same thing. I tried to explain to them that I thought it was just a sign for the concept of 10 for 10 in general, not for these specific items, because there wasn't the small tag which is the real marker for sale items. No one seemed satisfied by this explanation.

Towards the end of my shift, there were still people coming through doing major grocery shopping. Several said they shouldn't go grocery shopping at 11:30 at night. I was just dying for midnight to come. I was tired coming in to work, and was just trying to get through it. On top of everything, I got my schedule for next week, and for the first time I was scheduled for a night I had asked to have off--next Thursday. I will have to ask about this tomorrow.

 
6/30/05

6:00 PM -12:00 AM EZ Scan

Tonight was another night full of interesting, but tiny, things. I took over the EZ Scan from SS, who usually fills me in on how things are going in EZ Scan land. She told me it was busy and that there were lines today, but mainly that the check machine was really slow, and she ended up just banging on it and then it worked. She also told me she filled all the bag holders and cleaned, so I would be bored for a little while.

At first it didn't seem too busy, but in the end, it was a sort of crazy night. The slowness of the check scanning was sort of painful. I started to joke with people that perhaps I should sing them a song or something wile they waited, and I sort of wish I had, because most of the customers using checks weren't very talkative and so they ended up just standing next to me for 2-3 minutes while the screen just said PROCESSING CHECK, PLEASE WAIT... And of course during this time another person would need something. Because it was so busy, there were often four people on the EZ Scan, and many many times each would need something different at the same time-- an ID check to buy alcohol, coupons, a produce code, or else just help in scanning and using the EZ Scan. I had a lot of people new to the EZ Scan tonight, and again constantly heard people's opinions about it -- sometimes a comment about technology today, another person told me she thought it must be hard to take care of four people at once, and that it took three cashiers jobs away; others were just aggravated by the recorded voice.

The thin man came in tonight-- I think I usually see him on Saturdays. He had his briefcase and two other bags with him in a cart, and once again started by using the bathroom, then shopping for a while (45minutes? ), then using the bathroom again, then shopping more, and then finally coming through the EZ Scan. In the end, he didn't buy very much, and had coupons for almost everything he bought. He then paid for part of his order with three $2 bills, almost new looking. I felt tonight that he and I had some kind of trust between us--that I'll watch his cart when he uses the bathroom, and be helpful, and that he is quietly kind. After he left, I exchanged $2 that I had with me for one of the two dollar bills.

Other customers I just watched from a distance. One couple, in their fifties and in my mind perhaps ex hippies, came through and methodically scanned everything. The woman had a clipboard with their shopping list and coupons clipped on to it. The man had a thick stack of papers and pens in his front shirt pocket. A group of teenage boys, around 14, came through with a twenty year old man, and right after two young teenage girls came through with a woman in her early twenties--both groups were mixed races. A woman and a young girl, who I assumed to be her daughter, came through. He daughter seemed around 13 or 14, and at first I thought she was overweight, but then realized she was very pregnant. She seemed very childlike, and her mother had a lot of tattoos and was cross-eyed. I cop came through in uniform, and when I told him to have a good night, he looked right at me and said " I'll see you later," very seriously. I halfway expected him to arrest me out in the parking lot when I left for work tonight, although for what I have no idea.

CB came through to do a cash pickup and somehow we started talking about how boring it was to work on the EZ Scan. She then said she thought I was moving over to customer service, and when I told her I didn't want to, she told me I was smart. CF also stopped by and said hello, and said he hadn't seen me for a while, but also didn't want me to think he was stalking me. He then brought up the cartoon, and I said I had started it and thought I may have it done by Sunday. ( I had collected some images of cows being milked and NYC subway exits , and so now I have a deadline to make the drawing).

Several people came through in their uniforms from their jobs--Bennigan's, Centro, and a lot of Fucillo Auto Mall people. One woman told me they were going to be there until 2 am tonight, because a shipment of 200 cars is coming in. I jokingly said "huge," and then apologized, but told her I hated those commercials. She said she did too, and hated the man as well.

Towards the end of the night, a guy asked me pretty directly for a date. (I said no.) He was actually nice and didn't use any awful lines or anything. It's funny to me because every so often I do get some line from some man, and I realized that in all my previous jobs, I guess I haven't been in such public contact with strangers, so haven't had to deal with this so much.

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