Sunday, March 13, 2011

impersonal exchanges, and using machines as shields

I was at Trader Joe's the other day, and when it became my turn the check-out guy said "hi". I said "hi" back, and then it was silent. After some seconds of this I started wondering why he didn't ask me how I was doing, or how my day was going, or any other of the generic impersonal questions check-out people ask. After a while it was obvious he wasn't going to talk to me at all. "OK", I thought, "I'll ask him how he's doing for a change."

So I did. And he didn't say that he was "good" like 99% of people will. Instead he told me that he was "pretty frustrated, tell you the truth." He said he didn't want to get into it too much, but that he was frustrated with how customers were treating him. He said they didn't respond to his greetings, look at him, or address him at all.

So we had a little conversation about that, and he bagged my stuff, and we said "bye". It was a pleasant enough exchange. As I was leaving, I looked over my shoulder to see what the person next in line would do. Would she look at him?

No, she wouldn't. She was on her phone, in the middle of a conversation. She didn't talk to the guy, didn't look at him, only talked on her phone and fiddled with her credit card, and the machine.

It made me sad.

1 comment:

cecilia said...

can absolutely see his point, I belong to the category of customers on the phone + but in my defence, I gave up being nice when it turned out that the check out guys never cared to listen to how I was actually doing after they asked. it goes two ways, hihi.