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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
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« Better, faster, stronger. And so forth. | Main | Croup! »
Monday
Apr182005

Why I should probably be back in therapy.

I have a complicated relationship with supermarket cashiers. They’re serving me, and yet at the same time they have all the power—tallying my purchases, weighing and considering each item, silently judging me. I’m always a little mortified (I can hear them thinking, she pays that much extra for organic? chump) and yet also grateful because hey, they're letting me take this food home! I mean, I have to pay for it, but still. Mostly, though, I really want them to be nice to me. I’m not asking for much. A smile here, a “have a nice day” there. Sometimes the exchange with the cashier is the only adult interaction I’ll have all day. I want a little validation that I exist. Is that too much to ask?

At any rate, there’s a new cashier at the Met Food across the street, and this woman is One Cranky-Ass Bitch. She’s a middle-aged woman with badly dyed red hair and a thick Russian accent. She scowls at every item that rolls towards her, and then regards me with an icy stare and spits, “Give me $35.17,” like she’s mugging me. And oh, when I tell her I’m going to use my debit card! The sighing and the rolling of the eyes! “Cash back?” she growls, and then looks at me like god help you if you say yes. If she could get away with balling up the receipt and hucking it at my face, she would. She is not a nice person.

So of course I’ve been trying to make her my friend. I head straight for her cash register and I put each item down right where she can pick it up—no making that conveyor belt roll, my friend! That’s too much work for you! Then when she accosts me with the total I always beam at her and say, “Okay!” and I count out my money—exact change for you, neighbor! You’ve had a hard day! And then she shoves my receipt at me and my bag and I tell her to have a nice day and she hates me more than ever.

I went in on Saturday to buy a bag of potting soil. I had a hard time negotiating the bag, as it was big and heavy and I am small and puny. I plopped it down at her register and said, “Whoa!” because I’m a dork. She glanced at me to sneer, but then something changed in her expression—and she smiled at me. She. Smiled. At me.

Finally, I thought. I’ve broken through. She could only resist my charms for so long.

Of course I smiled like a crazy person back at her, and I handed her my money and she gave me my change and I shrieked “Thank you! Nice day, isn’t it! Hope you get outside! Bye! See you later!” at her. She looked right at me and she smiled again. I was in heaven.

When I walked in the door I was about to tell my husband about my breakthrough when he said, “Did you know that you’ve got something on your face? You’ve got a big black smudge under your nose.”

So. It wasn’t my charms, but my dirt mustache. Cranky-Ass Bitch was laughing at me. She was thinking, “The American whore looks like Hitler. And my heart is glad.”

I'm sort of considering doing it again, just to amuse her.

Reader Comments (61)

You rock, man. I bet you and 123 know each other.
April 21, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterBridg Jones
This is why I like to shop at Safeway, despite the prices. All the workers in the store are obligated to be pleasant and helpful, probably under pain of torture.
April 21, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterGen
This made me laugh out loud.
April 22, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterLinda
I rememeber being in Italy and the salespeople who wouldn't say "hello, how are you?" when you entered. Rather they said nothing...it was so unnerving. And they really didn't like it when you didn't have exact change. Scary!

Perhaps you should continually go in there with something on your face. :)
April 22, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterkat
your grocery stores have potting soil? Damn, I need to move to NY.
April 22, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterSarcastic Journalist
That was great!! LOVE IT!!! First time here! NY GAL IN London for now! I am homesick!
April 23, 2005 | Unregistered Commentermrsmogul
I'll trade you my doublewide in the country (in a good school district with a huge yard and breakfast nook) for your apartment in Brooklyn.
April 23, 2005 | Unregistered Commentersummer
Supermarket cashiers are the devil.
April 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterSammy
I thought I was the only one who did this kind of stuff, determined to make the nasty cranky cashier SMILE at me, if it kills me! man, I would totally try it again if I were you - sans dirt mustache though...
April 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAnnejelynn
Bwah! Too funny!
April 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterChristine
OH, SNORP...I hate dirt mustaches! Oh wait...that's not dirt.
April 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterGoofy Girl

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