Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Behind the Register

I am excited to have officially left my retail job, and while I have many negative memories of the job, I think what I will remember most is the faces of the strangers I saw while standing behind the cash register. 

 The man who took about five minutes to tell me that the reason why his wife developed IBS was because of going on a shake diet earlier in her life.

 The teenage girl who tried to walk out of the store with a bottle of red nail polish in her pocket.

The boy who paid for fifteen dollars worth of snacks entirely in rolls of quarters as his mother chided him for holding up the line. 

She rushes to the front of the store and puts her stuff on the counter, looking agitated. 
 "How are you, today?" I ask.
"Okay. I'm fighting the worst headache I've had in my life."

The high school girl who bought a doll so she could cut off its' arms for an epic senior photo.

"Can you cut the tag of these sunglasses for me? I left mine at home." 

 The man whose right arm was only a stump who smiling, told the child staring at him that his wife bit his arm off instead of telling him it was a war wound and they had to amputate his arm. 

 The cranky lady who was mean to me after misunderstanding my directions for using the keypad, but a week later came back and apologized. 

 The older gentleman who serenaded me with the song "Alison" by Elvis Costello. "Alison, I know this world is killing you/ Oh Alison, you know my aim is true."

 The young girl who tried to buy a sweet, alcoholic beverage, then shocked by the request for I.D. put it back guiltily. 

 The mother yelling at her kids to behave, then asking me if I would take them.

 The man who wondered why my bracelet said "joy", asked if it was my girlfriend's name, then laughed hysterically at my appalled face.

 The grandmother who looks at me with tired eyes, ignoring the cries for candy and gum from the children scampering around her feet, then asking if I wanted them because she was too old to do this again. 

 The guy who called me "dear". 

 The little girl who watched me bagging their food and said, "You must hate your job."
 "Why do you say that?" I asked.
 "It looks so boring."

 The old man who told me I was beautiful. 

 She stands in line, a teenage girl with short, blonde hair holding a pregnancy test. Her hand keeps finding her stomach and hovering there, like she is wondering, hoping, or regretting, a new life she may soon find exists. 

 I will remember her most.


  1. It sounds like quite the experience, Allison! Thank you for sharing it with us...so many memories, and so interesting to read! Sounds like you could have picked up a half dozen jokingly unwanted children at that job!

    1. I know, I could have started the beginnings of a daycare. :)

  2. Wow...there are so many people in the world, and you got to meet a lot of them just in a small corner of the world! It's interesting how some of them are fixed in your mind.
    I work with the public for just a short time of my work day, and it's definitely rough (I'm glad to go back to my own desk after cashiering). But it can also be rewarding!

    1. Yes, it's a strange mix of hating it and loving it at the same time.