Saturday, December 19, 2009

Just take my cash.

cashier's register
Originally uploaded by daveterry.

I usually get to the Enterprise around 7:15 or so. It's always the same routine: buy breakfast from the downstairs cafeteria and eat it while reading my email up on the 18th floor.

This sometimes gives me indigestion, but there it is. It's a habit I can't break.

I eat healthy, every other day. One morning I'll have eggs, a strip or two of bacon, and some potatoes. The next morning I'll have oatmeal with raisins. The oatmeal is good for my heart and weight. However, I figure that if I eat oatmeal every day my body will get wise to it and stop dropping the pounds. So every other day I feed the body gobs of fat and protean. Then the next day I try to get the fat off through the oatmeal raisin cup.

Ah, but I digress, my diet is not the intended subject of this post.

This is about those faceless people in the cafeteria, the cashiers.

Usually people don't pay them any attention. They just fork over the cash and funnel through the line.

Of course, I come in so early there is no line. So, I have a choice. Which cashier do I choose, the gabby one or the brusque one?

I vacillate, not able to decide.

One cashier treats me roughly. Even though there is no one behind me, he slams and punches at the register as if in a hurry. He treats me so brusquely I fear I've somehow made him mad. He grabs my cash card, shoves it into the slotted device, punches at the keys, ejects the card and tosses it back at me. It lands on my Styrofoam breakfast box. He says nothing but looks past me as if to help the next person. But there is no next person. There is no line. In fact, there are no people in the entire cafeteria.

I've tried friendly greetings: "Hey, Jimmy, how's it going? How are you today?" and when I go I always say: "Have a good one." But he only returns: "Too" or "Yep." Never nothing more than a single syllable.

If I go to the other cashier, I'll be there a very long time. She likes to chat and fiddle with the change. She'll open the drawer, pick stuff off the floor, or busy herself opening the change rolls. I'm thinking: "Hello!? Anyone there? Hey, there is someone here to give you caaaash."

One time she walked off while I was approaching the register. She went off to fiddle with the napkins and plastic forks. All the while I stood at the register, card in hand, mouth open, sort of incredulously looking over at her. She was mumbling.

When she does stay at the register, she stares down at the cash drawer and talks to it. She's telling it something important or maybe she is telling me some story and I'm expected to know the context. I haven't a clue what she's talking to her register about.

Oh, I sometimes hear parts of conversations, like: "I told him but he wouldn't listen, uh huh." She seems like a homeless person shuffling the streets, talking to herself.

When she finally gets around to taking my money, I just say generic commiserating stuff like: "Yeah, what are you going to do." or "Not much you can do." I'm just playing along. Sometimes I'll say something positive like: "Well, At least it's a beautiful day." Then she'll reply with: "You can say that again, umhumm, yep you can."

On the one hand I just want to get through the line (using this term loosely since there really isn't one this early in the morning). On the other hand I don't want to get slammed around this early before my second cup.

Why can't checkout people just take my money, thank me, and say: "Have a good one?"

In the end, which cashier I can endure is one of the toughest decisions I make each day.

If it’s true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the others here for?