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Emily Manns | Fulcrum Staff

I CAN SPEAK calmly, show empathy for their plight, and even agree with some of their complaints, but no matter how dissatisfied some customers are with a product, I cannot change the fact that I am a cashier, not a miracle worker. If I had the capability to make it so that food was always the lowest price and the highest quality, I would gladly oblige; but such a feat is beyond my capabilities. Yet no matter how many times I try to explain this, I still end up with a disgruntled customer waving a hunk of meat in my face, convinced that he or she is being ripped off.

The great thing about working at a local grocery store in the middle of a small town is that you get to know everyone fairly quickly. I know exactly who is going to be in a rush to get in and out, who is going to want to stop and chat for a good hour or so, and who is going to go to great lengths to find something to complain about. That last one occurs more often than I would like to admit, given the general good nature of the town. Blame it on boredom: sometimes people just don’t have anything better to do with their time.

On one occasion, as I was scanning a gentleman’s groceries, he made me stop halfway through when he saw that one of the items had come up at a much higher price than what he had been expecting. First he tried to convince me that I had scanned it wrong. I scanned it again. Same price. He remained convinced that the computer was wrong. I decided to go and see what it said on the price tag, just in case someone had input the amount incorrectly into the computer. Not surprisingly, the price on the tag was the same as the one that had come up.

Even after all of this, the man was still convinced that he was right. I managed to keep up a smile, but my patience was wearing thin. Finally, he accepted that the price was correct, but not before going off on a tangent about how much cheaper it had been at about a dozen other stores. I was tempted to tell him that maybe he should go and buy it from one of them instead, but I held my tongue.

Sadly, this exchange has happened more than once. Countless people choose to vent their frustrations by mouthing off to their cashier—who usually happens to be me. Yes, things used to be cheaper back in the day. But it costs five dollars today, so you will have to either go back in time or pay the five dollars. When you do attempt time travel, do me a favour and let me know how that goes.

They say the customer is always right, but there’s a limit. I suppose when you act as the middleman between the manufacturing company and the customer, dealing with these kinds of situations is to be expected. At the end of the day, though, get over it, show a little respect, and pay up. Then we can both go on to something better worth our time.