I HAVE MIXED feelings about shopping at the best of times. If I’m looking for a new power saw or some electronics, I’m in. The everyday bread and milk, not so much.
The problem with the Christmas season is that it all gets mixed in together. You never know who you’re going to be spending time with in the lineup.
Worse yet, you never know who’s going to be at the cash register. Could be — for better or worse — a veteran, or a newbie making a few extra dollars during the Christmas rush.
Believe it or not, and I know this will shock you, I’m not much of a people person. I tend to interact with others based on the way they treat me. If they’re jolly, I’m jolly — at least in comparison, though it might not be obvious to you.
If they’re abrupt and non-responsive, I return it in kind.
So when I encounter a cashier who doesn’t look up from the till, doesn’t acknowledge my presence, and silently scans my items before announcing, “Fourteen-96,” I start edging toward the cranky side.
I want to hear full sentences. Things like, “Hi there, how are you today?” “So the total comes to 14 dollars and 96 cents.” “Do you need a bag for that today?”
And the all-important, “Have a great day!” with an exclamation mark.
I like young people, I really do, but my impression is that cashiers who have lost all ability to communicate are generally on the young side, possibly influenced by the fact they spend most of their lives staring at their smart phones.
Sometimes I think I’d get better service at the cash register if I texted them.
So, store managers, take a memo. When you hire your staff, be they young or old, permanent or temp, keep an eye on whether they actually answer or ask questions during the employment interview, or simply grunt once in a while as they check their fablets. It might be a clue as to how they’ll interact — or not — with customers.
That next cashier you hire is going to be your front-line ambassador, and he or she will have a lot to do with whether I shop at your store only because I have to, or because I want to.
Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear twice daily Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on ArmchairMayor.ca and CFJC Today. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.