I'Ll Never Be A Smoker This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By
   On a cold Saturday morning in July, the idea of waking up early seemed so senseless. "Why should I have to wake up this early in the middle of vacation when I just went to bed two hours ago?" I whined. But complaining couldn't help me now. I had to go to work at the supermarket where I'm a cashier.

There are three different breeds of customers. One is the pleasant customer who tries hard to make your day go well with few coupons and proper change. This is a rare breed. Another type is the penny pincher. This person has 1,000 coupons and watches your every move like a hawk stalking its prey. This customer waits for you to make the smallest mistake, and jumps down your throat the second he catches it. This is the most common breed. Then there's the third breed. This breed is one in every 20 customers - the chain smoker. These people are often recognized by the twitching, snarling, nicotine-deprived noises they make at those around them. They are commonly found at the end of the line, cradling two cartons of cigarettes and staring at the store doors as if they were an oasis. They have no sympathy for anyone. All they want is out.

This day started off well. Cool people were working, and I was assigned to an express lane. Express lanes are great because I only have small orders which involve less work. Also, it wasn't busy, and I didn't have a line of more than three people for a good two hours.

Then, 10:00 rolled around. Tons of customers came in. I swear they travel in herds. Since my line was twelve people long, I was trying to scan as fast as I could. I was breaking into a little sweat, and I think I even broke a fingernail. But, alas my efforts went unnoticed. A twitching, snarling, nicotine-deprived ball of nerves was the very last person in my line. Yes, she fit the description. She was cradling her cartons of cigarettes while yelling at an old man for having one item over the limit.

I noticed her first when she was making loud "I'm Disgusted" sighs at the back of the line while an old woman spent a few seconds looking for a penny on the bottom of her purse. The next customer was a middle-aged man who fit the description of Customer Two. He had a coupon for every item. When the woman with the cigarettes noticed, she started yelling that coupons shouldn't be allowed in express lines. I knew what I was in for, but she didn't.

Throughout my next few orders I kept hearing the classic "Can't you speed it up?" This woman was being so obnoxious that six people let her get in front of them. Some customers were so afraid that they returned their groceries and left.

Finally the nicotine queen was second in line. The woman in front of her was an older woman. It was hard for her to find her coupons. Having noticed this, the evil woman told her to hurry up and grabbed the coupons out of the purse. I couldn't believe that she did that. I would never go into anyone's purse.

The moment of truth finally came. The woman threw her cigarettes down on the belt and said, "Scan them."

"Do you have a price plus card or coupons?" I asked.

"No," she said.

"Would you like to apply for a card?"

"No. No. No."

"Do you already have a card?"

"No, will you hurry up? I want to leave."

"Okay, ma'am." I said.

Then, while she wasn't looking I hit void and scanned her first carton of cigarettes. The item wouldn't scan. I had to type the bar code in by hand. But there was one little problem: I needed my glasses to read the bar code. I proceeded to dig through my purse. Too bad, the glasses weren't in there. I found them in my coupon drawer. But I needed a few convenient seconds to get the case open. The whole time the woman was repeating, "I can't believe this. I can't believe this." I finally got the glasses on and slowly entered the bar code. I wish I could have seen the look on her face, but I was too afraid to look. "$42.75 " I said.

She gave me a $50.00 bill, and I made change. I then realized that the change compartments weren't to my liking. So, I broke open every change roll before I was satisfied giving her change.

"Just give me my change!" she said. So I held out my hand and she yanked the money from it so hard that I'm surprised I didn't get a paper cut. Then she stormed out.

The customers behind her didn't mind waiting the whole time the order took. They were actually quite amused by how I handled the situation. But I still wonder what she would have done if she had known that I only need glasses to see things far away. c


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback