I realized it too late, watching as the other lines got longer. I would not be leaving the supermarket anytime soon because my cashier…was…lazy.
It was my fault for not paying attention. Lazy cashiers aren’t that hard to spot – all I had to do was look around. If the line was long there was a good chance that the checkout guy was faking diligence by…
- Scanning each item individually (including individual eggs, grapes, grape tomatoes, etc.)
- Bagging groceries delicately (so as to not crush any canned goods)
- Investigating the important (“is this a sweet onion or a yellow onion?”)
- Calling the manager for clarification (“Is it Skippy or Jif that’s on sale this week? Oh, neither? You’re right…that was last week!”)
- Popping snacks in his mouth (“I’m starving, my 15-minute break was two hours ago!”)
- Planning a good time (“dude, after tonight..I’m off till Tuesday!”)
Yeah, Yeah, I know…
I’m not unsympathetic to the plight of cashiers. They’re on their feet for hours each shift. The job is repetitive and monotonous. The pay is low. They’re forced to stand in a 2×2 area, on display for everyone to mock. Chicks ignore them.
If a cashier is quick and efficient, the reward is more work. They must laugh and smile at us and make small talk.
So I get why some cashiers are duds. They pace themselves to make the job tolerable. But pacing is one thing, calculated sloth another.
Crackin’ the Whip
Apart from firing them, which they’d prefer, I have three suggestions for the managers of slacker, lazy cashiers everywhere:
- Merit Pay – pay them a nickel for each item scanned. So if your guy only drags thirty items per hour across the magic threshold, cuz he’s hung over, than his compensation will be a whole $1.50. Alternatively, if he hustles and races through 800 items in 60 minutes, his pay shoots up to $40. With that much money floating around, deadbeat cashiers will start flagging shoppers down…they’ll even start poaching customers from their co-workers.
- Banish them to the front – door. Loafer cashier is now the official store greeter. He is to smile sincerely at everyone who walks through the front doors and ask them (also sincerely) how their day is going. If he bungles either tasks, he gets shipped to the parking lot for cart retrieval duty…but only during the months of Jan, Feb, July, and August.
- Take a vacation - so you can audition for Undercover Boss. While filming the show you might discover an ingenious way to boost productivity so that everyone wins, while working alongside of your dud cashiers. More likely though, you won’t. Instead, you’ll begin to see things that you hadn’t imagined before like, umm…how mind-crushingly dull a cashier’s job is! And that your all of your lazy, slacker cashiers are strangely.. nice people
You’ll return to your management job renewed and with a little more compassion for your employees (since their pathetic lives are hopeless). As for the shopping experience of your customers? Well,you’ll get to that someday.
What about just replacing the guy with a kiosk? It’s tempting but supermarket kiosks are always getting jammed and misreading stuff. Besides, the guy who’s supposed to mind the kiosks is usually wandering off someplace. Management is always paging him. Lazy cashiers tend to wander only in confined areas, like cattle, so they’re easy to spot.