We were standing at the cash register, checking out our groceries, putting them on the conveyor belt behind the last customer’s, when my wife noticed the cashier was looking at her. She was in her mid-fifties.

“She’s giving me the stink eye.” I looked and sure enough the woman did have a dour look on her face. But she seemed to look at everything that way. The bagger, the floor, the other customers, etc. Her brow cast a shadow over her eyes and her voice was harsh when she talked. “I’m going to the bathroom,” my wife said. My gut instinct was to stand my ground against this woman. I could shoot icy glares and be broodingly silent as well. She had given my wife the stink eye after all.

The man ahead of me was wrung out and then it was my turn. I walked up to the cashier and stood there. She didn’t say anything. “How’re you doing today?” the bagger said, having to pick up her slack.

“Good. And you?” I said.

“Good,” he said. He wore a long chain around his neck that was made to look like gold but probably wasn’t, and he had a sleeve-length tattoo on his left arm.

The cashier silently scanned each item without looking at me or saying anything. I made it a point to orient my feet and direction of my body towards her to make myself open for any opportunity to communicate. I decided that reciprocating the icy stare would do no good. It felt silly. Perhaps she was only having a bad day and wasn’t up for customer chit chat. That was understandable. Or something dramatic could’ve recently happened in her life that was getting her really down in the dumps on a grander scale. In that case nothing I was going to do in this short 3 minute interaction was going to make any bit of difference. Or maybe she was just an unhappy person.

She finished scanning and I swiped my credit card to pay. The bagger was finished up. She handed me my receipt and I started to leave.

“Have a nice day,” she said.

 

© Daniel Douglas

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4 thoughts on “August 8, 2016

  1. When travelling in the States, I always found that ‘Have a nice day’ thing, not only terribly irritating, but also a little passive aggressive, for most of the people who said it, sounded as if they did not mean it. I rather have someone not even talk to me, than say meaningless words. Maybe it’s just a difference in UK vs US culture.

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    1. “I rather have someone not even talk to me, than say meaningless words.” — Totally agree with this.

      There are so many cultural differences between the US and UK, it would be hard for me to pin down where the ‘have a nice day’ thing comes from. I think it comes from some hackneyed customer service principle that was started over here, maybe?

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      1. I bet it began in America, in the 1950s or some cool time period like that, but back then, they probably meant it when they said it haha.

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