A Day in the Life

Sydney Burson

There comes a time in everyone’s life where you have to grow up. You have to grow up and live in the “real” world. You have to get a job and follow corporate rules and pay stupid taxes and do adult things. Sure, it’s exciting to get that first call back. Sure, it’s exciting to have your first interview and to get that “you’re hired” call. Hell, it’s exciting to have your first day, but then, when you actually start working, the excitement dies. It dies a death where all your hopes and dreams of a pleasant experience are crushed. Why does it die such a painful death? I’ll tell you why.

It was rainy when I got the call. I guess that should have been my first hint, my first sign from God that this was going to be a nightmare, but, because of my youthful, naive optimism, I willfully ignored the signs. I excitedly accepted the position they offered me. I excitedly told everyone I knew the news that I was hired. I never for a second thought about what the position implied. I never once considered what I was being asked to do. I never once let my mind wander to the negatives. Oh, to be naive again.

Training was easy enough. Tap some buttons, enter your code, don’t let them swipe before you tell them to. Easy. Literally anyone with half a brain cell could figure how to work at this seedy little store, but that didn’t matter to me. I was just excited to finally be working. I was ready to finally be a contributing member of society. Plus, it was nice to finally have money of my own. The “where did that $20 I gave you six months ago go?” conversation with my parents was starting to get just a tad annoying.

About a week after training, I had my official first day. I was ready. I was readier than Spongebob. I was the most ready person on the face of the Earth. Heck, I was the most ready person in the galaxy. I was more prepared than someone about to climb Mt. Everest. I really wasn’t ready, despite what I told myself, because there truly is no way prepare for hell.

My uniform made me look like a twelve-year-old Catholic boy. This is not at all an exaggeration. I barely looked old enough to even have a job everytime I put that God-awful polo on. Pair it with the stellar khakis and the awesome visor and you have the recipe of one super duper ugly uniform! But I couldn’t let that bother me. My appearance didn’t matter. My appearance was the least of my worries. What awaited me in that store was far worse than I could have ever imagined.

“Honestly, if you plan on working here, you should learn how to do your f**king job, dumbass.” Thanks, Linda. Really appreciate your advice here. It’s not like this is my first day or anything. Why don’t you take yourself and your little stereotypical soccer mom bob and go yell at some PTA members? Linda was the first wave of the storm to come. God, I wish I would’ve known what I was getting into. This blonde PTA president was screaming and swearing and demanding to see my manager. Why? Because she didn’t know what buttons to push on the credit card pad and I was leaning over the counter to read the screen and help her. Obviously, I was entirely in the wrong for, I don’t know, doing my job and helping her ungrateful ass. It was fine though. My supervisor came out after Lovely Linda had left and gave me some words of encouragement.

“Don’t worry about that. You aren’t doing anything wrong. Don’t be afraid to call me if someone is yelling at you. You got this, kid.”

With new felt confidence, I continued on with my day. After the Linda fiasco, I had yet another battle to face. This one’s name was Peter.

“Hello, sir. Did you find everything okay today?”

“I am now, sweetheart.” Dear God, dude, why’d you have to smile and wink? Why wasn’t one of those facial expressions enough for you? Are you shooting for the Creep of the Year award or something?

“Um, your total today is $7.08. Please insert when the lights turn blue.”

“Insert? Well, if you say so.”

“Dude, I’m seventeen.”

“Oh, so I’m only two years older. When do you get off? You should go out with me tonight?” Okay, Peter, you know I’m underage now. Whatcha doin’, buddy? Please go away.

Thank God for my supervisor. He really saved the day by kicking that creepo out. As I stood (well, if I’m being honest, I was dancing) behind my counter, waiting for my next valuable customer, I started thinking. I started thinking, Oh my God, I actually work here isn’t that so cool? Man, I wish that excitement was still here.

How perfect! Next up is Tom. What a sweet old man. I actually liked Tom. Sure, he didn’t know what a credit card was and seemed confused as to why I’d give him back change (he’d given me a $50 bill for a $12 purchase), but he was a sweet old man. I’d love it if Tom came back. It’s people like Tom that make this job worth it. It was people like Tom who made it worth it to stand there and listen to people call me the scum of the Earth and tell me to go to hell because the prices were too high. I was still trying to figure out how in God’s name the prices were my fault. This place barely paid me minimum wage so how was I supposed to control the prices?

5 p.m. only one hour left and then I go home. That thought sent such a sense of relief through my body. I’d never experienced such unadulterated joy in my entire life.

It was like this lady could sense my joy and made it her personal mission to destroy it. My final boss battle of the day. Karen and her son. These two were quite duo. The son sauntering in in his soccer jersey, already acting like he owned the place. Karen, with her beady black eyes that penetrated deep into my soul, waltzed into my store after her son. Just from the way these two walked in, I knew I was in for some trouble.

“Mommy, can I get ice cream?” I thought to myself, Karen, if you don’t say no, I am going to kill myself. I just cleaned that area. It isn’t open. I swear to God if you say yes–

“Of course,sweetie.” Karen, you fucking didn’t.

To say the least, Karen had effectively ruined my day. I had to go reopen the ice cream stand because this valued customer wanted ice cream. With a fake smile, I moved to greet my two visitors from hell. “Hello, what can I get for you today?”

Karen’s son was roughly nine-years-old. He was definitely old enough to order ice cream with his words. Or at least point to the flavor he wanted. But nope, this little buckaroo had a whole new method of choosing his ice cream flavor. Buddy boy looked at me and then proceeded to smash his face repeatedly against the glass. Much to my horror, his mother made no move to stop or reprimand him. Was this natural? The child was honestly about to concuss himself. He was just standing there mashing his face against the glass. Nervously, I went to scoop the flavor I thought was the target of this relentless headbutting. Thank God, I was right. The little shit just wanted vanilla. All that brain damage just for a single scoop of vanilla ice cream with no toppings. I’m not surprised that the kid was the way he was. His mother seemed to lack all semblance of intelligence so why would her son be any smarter?

Karen. Oh, sweet, horrible Karen. This lady was a character, a definite piece of work. With our system you have to wait for me to tell you when to insert your card or else it’ll be declined. Apparently Karen thought she was above these rules. Her card was declined. I nicely went to tell her, “Oh, it looks like it got declined. Let me run this again.”

“I can read, you idiot. What did you do wrong?”

“Ma’am, our system is just a little touchy. The card was just inserted a little too soon.”

“That’s not my problem. The transaction didn’t go through and unless you charge me in the next thirty seconds, I’m assuming it’s free.”

Listen, Karen. I don’t get paid enough to deal with your antics. With all of my rage neatly concealed by a tight-lipped smile, I ran Karen’s transaction again. I told her to have a great day when, in fact, I wanted nothing more than for her to get hit by a train. I cleaned her son’s snot and face prints off the glass above the ice cream. I clocked out. I prayed to God to give me the strength to deal with this again tomorrow. I went home and ate my secret stash of depression Oreos and I went to bed.

As I laid in bed, tortured with the nightmarish image of the kid smashing his face on glass, I thought about the middle age man who had told me to go to hell earlier that day. “Don’t worry, buddy, I think I’m already there and I’m serving you.”

And this, kiddos, is why you should never be a cashier. Customer service is hell