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7/30/05

12:30 PM -6:15 PM Express Cashier [LAST DAY]

My last day passed more or less uneventful, as yesterday was. The store wasn't as busy as it usually is, and so there were a few pauses in between customers. After I punched in, I noticed there is a new front end supervisor, CM, and she seems to be working in the capacity of PP, a sort of uber-supervisor. I had a "see supervisor" note next to my name in the schedule book, and CM gave me an Associate Documentation Form -- Overage/Shortages. The EZ Scan was short $9.66 on Thursday. As I signed it, another cashier said to me " Don't you hate getting those?" I found I cared even less about it, since I was leaving.

I was put on register 11, taking over for BC. As my drawer was being switched out a line formed, the first person being a little girl who wanted change for a dollar. In fact, throughout the day, people asked me for change--quarters--an I would usually only give them a dollar or two in cheange, instead of the four or five they wanted, because I was running low on quarters.

All kinds of people came through my line. A lot of Vietnamese families seemed to come through, but I also had some Indian people, a British woman, white, black, young, old. I has several older woman who each brought many coupons as well as their own bags ( you get a 3 cent credit per bag)--I probably had more people with their own bags today than I've ever had. Two of my colleagues also came through, and although my interactions with them were not especially interesting, I was still glad to see them.

Most of the customers I saw today were pleasant, although not very talkative. Many seemed tired and just wanted to get on with their day. One man asked me to ring up his order as three separate ones, and he paid for each one with a separate credit card. Two were each a razor, because their was some refund on them, he wanted separate receipts. He was very polite, and thanked me for being patient with him. I told him that was just my job. A lot of people paid with credit cards for small totals--less than $10.

People bought a lot of meat--steaks, pork chops, king crab, and one order had three live lobsters. About four people bought birthday cakes along with ice cream, flowers, and other party-type things. One man, who bought a lot of steaks, told me he had just set up his new grill. A lot of kids came through with their parents. Some of the younger ones weren't having a good time, and became very attached to something--one little boy was clinging to a box of popsicles, which I scanned and returned to him before he started to cry. Another girl was holding a bag of candy--I scanned it and gave it back to her; and her mother then replaced it on the belt. I put it in a bag, and the girl walked around to the end of the register and grabbed the bag the candy was in. A girl around 12 or 13 came with her older brother, I assume, who was disabled in some way. They got regular groceries--cereal, meat, etc. She was a dollar short, and left to go to the car to get more money. I had a dollar with me, and so just made up the difference. She later came through to buy a coke, and was 15 cents short, which I again made up for.

A lot of orders today were ringing up in even amounts--$60.00, $40.00, $28.00. One woman even commented to me that it was weird to have it even. I also had two customers with one eye clouded over. One was in a group of three, his companions were a man in a motorized chair and a woman.

For a little while before and after my break, a new (to me) young woman started bagging for me. I wondered how long it would take for her to be pulled off to bag for one of the regular registers, because they never put a bagger on the express lane. After about twenty minutes, TT noticed her, and switched her to another line. QQ said hi, and that she hadn't seen me for a while. XX was cashiering on the register next to me. I really have liked XX--she's always working hard and calls everyone sweetheart. I didn't tell anyone it was my last day. It some ways, I guess it's sad that people can come and go so easily without much notice, but I was also glad to avoid goodbyes. I did, however, say goodbye to AO. For the last couple of months, I feel that I've worked with him the most. After I punched out, I found him in the food court (if you can call it that) on his break, and told him that today was my last day, that I enjoyed working with him. He gave me a hug and told me that he knew I'd do well in whatever I did.

 
7/28/05

6:00 PM -12:00 AM EZ Scan

Unless I am put on the EZ Scan Saturday, tonight will be my last day working on it. I am not nostalgic about it. Tonight was also, for the most part, uneventful--nothing tremendously out of the ordinary happened, just a regular repetition of the familiar.

Outside the front doors, a cashier asked me if I was on the EZ Scan, and then told me it had just broken down. When I punched in, another cashier told me the same thing. The Express EZ Scan was down, but the large one was still working, and this is where I was assigned. AK was on it, and went over things with her usual thoroughness. I asked her if she had to go to her other job she works nights at Kmart), and she told me she didn't. TT was trying to reboot the express EZ Scan, which he was able to get going again in about a half hour. In the meantime, it was very busy in my realm. One of my board members came through, and, as we had prearranged, brought a video camera so I could tape her checking out from my point of view (our cover was that she was a video artist). But because TT was so close, I realized I couldn't do this without getting permission, and when she asked, after TT checked with the store manager, she was denied. Oh well, flubbed that one.

A few regulars came through, as well as others i have come to recognize. Frank, the DVD pirate noticed that I had gotten my haircut. He then said it's too bad I was too old for him. A woman on another console rolled her eyes when she heard him say this, which I appreciated. The Thin Man also came by--same routine: pulls up with a shopping cart with briefcases in it, I watch it as he goes to the bathroom; he picks out a few things on sale and carefully rings them up, I watch his cart as he goes to the bathroom again. Unfortunately, it was busy while he was around, so I couldn't give him as much attention as I like to. I also saw the old-an-who-uses-a-shopping-cart-as-a-walker-- he doesn't come through my line usually, but I realized that I've seen him every day I've worked for the last few weeks. Either he comes in every day (very possible), or else he manages to come in only when I'm working.

I watched many of the same "mistakes," or lack of user-friendliness in the way people use the EZ Scan. Many people came in with kids, and the kids often lean on the scale, which the computer thinks is groceries added without being scanned, and so it stops. I hate going up to kids and asking them not to lean on the scale. Even though I try to do it as gently a possible, and often trade them a sticker if they don't touch the scale, I can too easily put myself in their position of having a strange woman come up to them and tell them they are doing something wrong. A lot of adults lean on the scale too, but I just tell them how the thing works, and they more or less get it. Several debit card transactions were declined, which happens a lot, and I tell people that it's probably not their account, and to try to use their debit card as a credit card, which works. One woman told me tonight that it was embarrassing-- she was buying $8 worth of greeting cards, and assured me that she had plenty of money in the account. I was also asked, as I am several times every hour, about the sale price not ringing up--the screen only shows the regular price, but sale items have an A next to them. I constantly have to tell people that they are getting the sale price, and will see it on their receipt. I imagine some marketing group deciding it would be more thrilling for people to see how much they saved with their Advantage cards in the end, rather than throughout the ringing-up process, making customers feel so grateful for their card or something. This can be the only explanation for how sale items are displayed.

One last common confusion: when it comes time to select your payment option, there is a button for both EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) and Food Stamps--which means paper food stamps. (Actually, a second to last confusion: after people finish ringing up their groceries, they often swipe whatever card or else try to put in money, and the machine doesn't accept it, because you have to press the "Pay Now" button first, tell the thing you don't have any groceries under your cart, you do or do not have coupons, and then select how you're going to pay before it will accept payment). A lot of people press the food stamps button, and then I have to go and switch it to EBT, and then Food Stamps. One guy tonight said the Food Stamps button was stupid, because no one had food stamps any more, it's all through EBT. This man was with his wife, and a really young baby, who he told me was 6 days old.

I also had two people tonight ask me if I was open and then just hand me their groceries, thinking it was a regular cashier line. As I usually do, I just ring them up with my hand scanner. It was unusual tonight that most people who didn't have their Advantage card just told me their driver's license number, because usually people just ask me to scan my card (which I don't have), and then I have to ask them if they have there driver's license, and then get a supervisor to put in their card number. Instead, most people tonight just recited their driver's license number to me.

Around 8:30, it was much less busy. A lot of employees came through. CL, who works in seafood; XX did her grocery shopping after her shift ended, the whole customer service crew came through and bought cigarettes together; one of the night stocking crew members bought Mountain dew, as usual. A new (to me) cashier was working on the Express register and would talk to me throughout the night, though. Something had gotten messed up, and she ended up working two shifts--from noon to midnight.

As the night wore on, all the cashiers and AV got chatty--they were talking about their children a lot. I was sort of removed from it all because of where I was located. There was a strange cinematic moment, when it was quiet, the muzak was loud, and a couple walked past with a squeaky cart.

Customers would come through intermittently. I noticed that many were wearing pajama bottoms-- I counted about ten people throughout the night in their pjs--some with slippers. Perhaps because it was a cool evening--who knows? As it got later, I was asked more questions about things--how to get boxes, where is chicken broth, do we sell ping pong balls. Two women asked where the 24 hour Walmart was--they were going to a club, and one woman had numbers on her shirt (she was wearing a stylized sports jersey), which wasn't allowed, and so they needed to buy a T-Shirt or something. I woman with an Eastern European accent and bloodshot eyes slowly asked me for cigarettes--she had trouble at first, finding the name for them.

Around 11:30, there was a rush of customers, as is also usual. Many of them were in work uniforms as well-- Byrne's Dairy, Applebees. The Applebees woman asked me how much longer I had to be here, in a sort of moment of sympathy for having to work late.

Goodbye EZ Scan.

 
 
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