The Girl

As some of you may know, I work at a major retail store. My official position is that of a sales floor person. But in recent months I have spent a lot of shifts working up front as a cashier and customer service person.

My time up front has been plagued with interesting customer encounters, some good, some not so good. I have made quite a few observations concerning customers and customer service relations at store level.

One of my observations has been the treatment of sales floor persons by customers vs. the treatment of front end persons by the very same customers. Customers on the floor are typically happy and satisfied with my assistance. Never taking a question further than my answer.

However, up front is another matter. Something happens psychologically to a person at the checkout. And the same guest who was so friendly and willing to trust the word of a floor person behaves as though the front end person, or cashier to be specific, is some sort of sub-human lacking basic human intellect and rights.

A more important observation I have made has been the blatant and abusive sexism demonstrated by customers and inflicted upon female cashiers and front end persons. Countless times a day, myself and others like me, are referred to as “the girl” or “the lady” or “that girl” or “that lady”or “this girl” or “this lady”. The phrase is usually followed up with a problem or situation that is somehow “her” fault in the eyes of the customer.

Yet if a man is the one in charge up front the problem is typically resolved quickly and easily. Often times if a woman is in charge, like me for example. I have to call a man for backup, so they can tell the customer the same thing I did, and the man is somehow magically understood.

The underlying problem is that I almost never hear “he”  or “him” followed by a complaint. It is almost always “she” or “her” that manages to be so stupid at the same job every day. This dumb female cashier stereotype is administered by men and woman shoppers alike.

My point is this: Think about the way you treat people in customer service. They are simply doing their jobs, the same jobs, over and over, day in and day out, the best way they can. They do it on weekends, and holidays, birthdays, and family gatherings. They do it late at night, or early in the morning. They take almost as much shit as a nurse, but for a lot less pay.  So please, remember your manners the next time you’re out shopping , and more importantly remember that cashiers are people too. They may know their jobs well, or they may still be learning, either way, offer them respect, even if they happen to be a woman or a girl.



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