Person of the Week

Lois T.

Checker and Cashier

I refuse to let a bad experience with a customer or co-worker ruin my day. I also refuse to let a negative customer impact me in a way that is reflective to the next customer. In fact when I do have a “bad” customer, my smile and enthusiasm for the next customer is greater because I’m relieved to be able to move on.

1.  What led you to the mission of checker and cashier?

Fate, definitely fate. I’m not sure many people say, “When I grow up I want to be a grocery store checker.” It wasn’t my dream either. A series of events after college led me to a career in human resources. I was in between jobs at the time. On the way home from an interview I stopped by a grocery store and saw a “now hiring” sign on the door. I decided to go back to the car, get a copy of my resume, and give it directly to the HR people.

I look back now and laugh because it was the worst interview I had ever given. After being told that I was “over qualified’ and they didn’t have any positions for me, I threw everything I knew about the hiring process out the window. Sensing the rejection, I replied, “Look, you and I both know that it’s easier to get a job when you have a job.  I need a job, so I can get a job.”

At that point, the girl interviewing me burst out laughing. Not only did she hire me, but she also sent me to the store with the highest starting pay.  My HR experience made me question why I was hired after such a horrible response.  My common sense told me I was hired because I was relatable.  I believe this to be the main key in connecting with people — all people.

2.  What does this mission mean to you?

I view my job exactly as that, a mission. I am here to serve people. People don’t care what I know until they know that I care. My goal is to treat each customer as the most important of the day. The first thing I ask a customer is if they found everything they came in to buy. When the response is no, I immediately start probing to find out what that item is. Once I find out, I tell the customer where the item is and instruct them to go get it, or I step away from the register and motion for them to follow me as I take them to the item that they missed.  I am able to make the customer feel important, increase my sales, and be a bigger asset to my company.

3.  What was your best day as a checker and cashier?

Every day is my best because I thoroughly enjoy the people. I have so many “gold nuggets” in my job. One minute I’m checking out a customer who is sharing the excitement of her son’s up coming wedding. I cherish the gold nuggets in her eyes as she speaks and this is because I’m remembering the blue wristband that I wear in memory of the daughter she recently lost in Afghanistan. The next minute I’m checking out a customer who’s still riding the high from pitching and winning the World Series. Those are the kind of days that I have.

One incident does come to mind as being the most prominent of all to my mission of service. When someone comes up to my lane and they hand me flowers to ring, I usually say, “Oh, for me? You shouldn’t have!” That usually gets a laugh or at least a smile from the customer. A woman approached me and held out a single wrapped yellow rose. I immediately went into my “for me” routine. As I looked at her face I could see that she was upset. She had tears in her eyes, kept her lips very taught, and seemed as if she was trying not to cry. I smiled at her softly in a way that let her know I could see that something was wrong. I asked her if she found everything ok, she nodded yes. I thanked her and smiled softly again and told her to have a nice day.

About 15 minutes later someone was standing behind me. I thought it was the office cashier waiting for money from my drawer. After a few minutes I turned around and it was the same woman with the yellow rose, however this time she was holding a single red rose. She no longer had tears in her eyes and smiled greatly at me and said, “This rose is for you. My husband is being such a ‘$&h*%’ today. I bought that rose to make myself feel better, but after checking out with you, I decided I no longer needed the rose.  I went and traded it for one to give to you.” I thanked her and gave her a big hug. For me, that was a golden boulder!

4.  What was your worst day as a checker and cashier and how did you survive?

This is a really hard question for me. I don’t have bad days at work only incidents that happen. I refuse to let a bad experience with a customer or co-worker ruin my day. I also refuse to let a negative customer impact me in a way that it is reflective to the next customer. In fact when I do have a “bad” customer, my smile and enthusiasm for the next customer is greater because I’m relieved to be able to move on.

I had a customer that purchased a gallon of milk, a head of lettuce, a large tray of strawberries, and a box of Cheerios. She wanted everything in one bag. I tried to suffice her and at the same time arrange the products in the bag so her groceries would be intact when she got home. Needless to say, it wasn’t working. I tried a few different ways and could tell she was getting more frustrated. She said to me, “You really need to learn how to bag, it’s not that difficult.” She reached down into the bag and turned the strawberry tray on its side. Pop went the lid and the strawberries fell out into the bottom of the bag. She grabbed the bag with two hands, hollered a dirty name, and walked away. I gave the next customer a big smile and hello, and was very happy to see him.

The following day a customer said to me, “You know, you taught me a very good lesson yesterday.” I didn’t know what he was talking about. He explained, “Yesterday, I was behind that woman who called you a dirty name.  I was impressed how you handled her. The meaner she got, the nicer you were. She hated that.” I smiled and said, “I know.”

2 Comments

  1. I love the comment, Lois, that ” People don’t care what I know until they know that I care.”

    Reply

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