EDITORIAL – Turns out happiness at the till is a two-way street

(ArmchairMayor photo)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

NOT THAT long ago I shared my opinions on cashiers, suggesting a good many of them needed an attitude adjustment.

Customers, I suggested, deserve politeness and maybe a bit of good cheer when they pull up to a cash register with their purchases.

Quite a few readers and viewers replied that cashiers are, in general, a disrespected lot, and that if they’re grumpy it’s the customers’ fault.

This idea that the old “customer is always right” wisdom should read, “the customer is usually wrong” was enlightening.

Always in search of a compromise, I wondered if there’s middle ground. Maybe having a pleasant experience at the cash register is a joint responsibility on the part of the cashier and the customer.

So I decided to up my game.

I’ve been making a genuine effort to be cheery, even when I’m greeted with a non-verbal, eye-contact-avoiding agent at the till. Whenever possible, I take the initiative, with things like “Hi, how are you today?” or simply “Good afternoon.”

Having had many years of practice with grip-and-grin photos, I flash my undeniably charming smile and observe the reaction.

This has somewhat mixed results, but overall I must say it does have an impact. My non-scientific assessment is that about 80 per cent of the time, there’s at least a slightly positive reaction.

And I must quickly add, of course, that there are a lot of really good cashiers out there.

(By the way, the most friendly cashiers are at the drive-thrus. They seem trained to give you the benefit of the doubt, and cheerily ask what they can get started for you.)

I’m also testing my new clerk-friendly techniques on sales people out on the floor. They’re a little easier, since their job is to approach and ask if you need any help.

My overall conclusion is that this could really pay off for all concerned. A happy customer is a happy cashier, and vice versa.

I just might pass this along to Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on and CFJC Today. Contact him at

About Mel Rothenburger (6802 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.

2 Comments on EDITORIAL – Turns out happiness at the till is a two-way street

  1. How do you know about happy cashiers at a drive-thru? Are you telling me that you use drive-thrus? Are you serious?

  2. Marjorie Crossley // April 9, 2018 at 8:26 AM // Reply

    Kudos to you, Mel, for being willing to do your part to make an encounter with a cashier a pleasant one. Who knows, you may even have created the high point of that individual’s day! Over the years I’ve held positions of both front counter employee with the Prov. of BC and cashier/clerk. I can definitely vouch for the concept of a “two-way street” .

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