EDITORIAL – Would it kill the cashier to notice that I’m a person?


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 and CFJC Today. Contact him at

About Mel Rothenburger (7707 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on EDITORIAL – Would it kill the cashier to notice that I’m a person?

  1. thank you so much for your words tonight, we have started shopping on line because of the service we are getting in the city, We want to support our local market! but if service keeps up with the way its going, we would rather shop on line and have product delivered to my door. Sure hope Manager and Owners take notice to this story.

  2. agreed, front line ambassadors, and cheery faces are appreciated. But it’s a thin line this chat business. I am not a casual shopper picking up bread and milk. I shop for my family every day that the specials apply, and certainly every week. I spend a lot of time making selections, calculating usage values, approximating ‘keep good’ time, and when I get to the checkout I want to watch on the monitor how every purchase rings through. It matters to me – often, and I mean often, they do not ring through as marked. If the cashier is too chatty and, i’m Canadian, I have to reply in equal cheer, I can’t keep track of my purchases.
    At my lowest point I think this chat is part of a plot to disenfranchise the shopper; that’s a low point. But, it’s a thin line.

  3. james thompson // November 28, 2017 at 6:47 AM // Reply

    and teach them how to make change !!

  4. Crankiness is becoming so normal, I am not so sure it’s a young people condition though. The local Jim Pattinson food store for example has many veterans working the aisles, many of them are sure not “ambassadors”. But it’s a nice store overall and conveniently located therefore I shop there and I always buy licorice…to sweeten up the experience.
    Otherwise I go online, phone people are nicer, I think.

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