As I stand wearily, staring into the infinite abyss of misery and dread, I ask myself ‘how did I get into this situation?’ I attempt to fathom what sins I must have committed in a past life to justify why I am in this situation. I catch myself so I don’t pass out, and my consciousness is quickly restored when I realize I am not in hell, but I am behind the tills at the Co-op. I stare not at the infinite abyss, but at something just as infinite and miserable – the Co-op queue.
Why did I stay out last night? Why did I not stop myself after the eighth tequila? These questions receive no obvious answer from my hungover self, wishing everyone a nice day when I myself am being tortured by the repetitive chore of scanning. It was then, as I zoned out and turned the retail auto-pilot on, that I started to make a list of things that make this job fun or horrible to my poor broke self.
I think the number one thing about this job which annoys me is when people tell you how to do your job. This does not come from a supervisor or manager, oh no, it will be the lovely customers we get in. For example, telling us how much the newspapers are because they’re discounted (yes, we do special deals for students) and we don’t know the correct price within a millisecond, or that we should have more people on the tills to help with the queue.
Adding to this, stating what you want simply as ‘Marlboro’ or ‘vodka’ does not speed up the process because we need to know how much you want of said product – it just shows you are a Neanderthal who still is trying to grasp the English language. A simple please, thank you, you look dashing today, goes a long way and shows that you have manners and will slowly rebuild my faith in humanity.
Next, and I probably speak for myself here, but I get a weird satisfaction when catching people out who are trying to bend the rules. We are not dumb, if we see you get denied because you have no ID and you’re standing outside waiting for your friend to buy it for you, guess what? We know, and, at the risk of sounding like a psycho sadist, denying you makes the day a little more exciting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I want to ruin anyone’s fun! It is just that I have to follow the law and those breaking it are served a little Co-op justice.
Another fun thing about the job are the people. They are great, they usually keep me sane during my monotonous shifts by playing “produce bingo” or my revised version “people bingo”. Especially during the night shifts, we will be utter weirdos to you because we can. It helps us manage the fact our friends are probably in Pryzm, chatting to a solid 4/10 on a good day. Also guys, the process of ID-ing everyone in your group at Co-op is the law. I understand a lot of international students struggle to adapt to it but I have to uphold the law and I don’t want to lose my job because I broke it.
And a little tip for those coming into the shop; when you talk to us at the counter, we will usually make awkward conversation if we are either too tired or hungover or both. Here is the script I have said thousands of times during a shift at Co-op. *ahem* “Hi there, you alright? Yeah I’m not bad, would you like a bag? Ok that’s (insert amount here), would you like your receipt? Ok, take care!” This happens every day during a shift.
Pray for the lovely Co-operatives who staff your local. We work hard to make sure we don’t pass out from boredom and trust me, there is nothing we can do about the queue – so stop asking.
Image: Kathryn Cheeseman