by Ruth Schapira
In our everyday lives, we can become as robots. Not seeing, hearing, or reacting to what’s around us. This experience can happen in your local supermarket.
A short time ago, I was at the “12 items or less” express line, counting my items to make I did not go over the limit (do you do this too?). I didn’t want the person behind me to think that I wasn’t following proper supermarket etiquette. After I paid, the cashier said “Have a nice day” and I said “thank you, you too–have a great day!” and mentioned that actually I forgot something, and would be back in the line again.
Why did I even tell her this? Does my interaction with the cashier have to be ‘real’? Would she actually care that I forgot something? Doesn’t she have enough to think about without minding my business? What’s it to her if I show up in her line a few minutes later? Was she getting paid by how many people she served that day?
She ignored my comment, and I quickly went to get the item I forgot. I got back into the same line no more than 3 minutes later. I couldn’t help myself: “Hi, I’m back” as if she cared that I returned for a second or even third time. She didn’t acknowledge my attempt to connect with her, and wasn’t remembering that I had been there a few minutes earlier. I was her next transaction, and it was not part of her job to notice things like this. So, she scanned my one item, fetched a new bag and said “Thank you, Have a nice day” as if she saw me for the first time. She must have said these words hundreds of times before. This is just another version of “Hello, How are you?” that she says in the beginning of the transaction, not expecting or wanting a reply. This is what we expect from our transactions.
So why did this tiny interaction bother me? It wasn’t that unusual or unique. Things like this happen to everyone almost every day. Why write about it?
She’s a cashier and has a job to do. So what if she doesn’t relate to the people in her line. She was trained to say the same thing to each customer, over and over. This happens everyday and everyone just moves on. Get over it.
We are surrounded with opportunities, sometimes small and insignificant ones, to connect with people. On a person-to-person level. Not a person-to-machine level. We need to grab what we can, when we can, to make interactions with people pleasant and yes, even a little significant.
The cashier has little reason to acknowledge me other than just being an authentic person who interacts with another human being. We can behave as people, even for the most minor interactions, which I don’t think is a bad thing at all.