A woman in front of me in line was buying all organic food. She was buying natural dog food, too. Yet despite the importance she obviously places on healthy eating, she also was wearing chemical perfume. This kind of logic drives me nuts because perfume is a horribly toxic substance that is in no way in line with organic eating. Perfume also still makes me sick if I'm around it too long. Thus, I stayed as far away from her as I could while waiting. She was wearing a cute rayon spaghetti strap top which showed off her tattoos quite well. I wouldn’t say that she was skinny; she was probably a size 10 or 12, but it was a very firm, very toned 10 or 12. I would guess she was in her late 20s. Her skin was nicely tanned as well.
The appearance of this woman was clearly too much for the cashier to handle as he began flirting with her in a less than subtle manner. She apologized for forgetting her reusable bags (no judgment on my part there… I’ve done that far more than once), but he assured her it was perfectly fine. She said she could bag the groceries since there was no available bagger at that point. He definitively protested that she didn’t need to do the bagging because he would do it for her because he was so good at it after all his experience. He kept making joking comments to her while SLOWLY scanning and bagging her groceries. Meanwhile, I was watching the clock tick by while I stood there wanting to get away from the perfume, the flirting, and the store in general.
Finally, he finished helping her, and she went on her way. No phone numbers were exchanged. He said hi to me before he started scanning my groceries. I walked to the end of the conveyer belt where I stood with my fabric bags ready to load my groceries. I had to tell him twice-- very loudly-- that I had fabric bags before I got his attention. He said, “Ok” and went back to scanning the groceries but didn’t bother to turn on the conveyer belt switch for me. So I turned on the conveyer belt from the bagging end and started bagging my 20 or so groceries. Midway through, the cashier half-heartedly thanked me for bagging. Never did he offer to me to do it for me. I paid, he said thank you, and I left. If it hadn't been for the way he treated the previous customer, I probably wouldn't have thought anything much of our interaction. However, the way I felt walking away from his lane was something that no customer should feel: that they were treated lesser than the customer in front of them based on their physical appearance.
As I walked out of the store, I noticed no one was in line at the customer service counter where a female employee was working. I stopped and told her, “Please remind the cashiers that flirting outrageously with customers and then treating the next customers in line as less than them doesn’t feel good for the other customers.” She looked at me, obviously surprised by what I had said but she said, “I agree with you totally. Do you mind telling me which cashier you are referring to?” I handed her my receipt so she could figure out who had been “helping” me check out. When she found the name, she looked at me again, rolled her eyes, and nodded her head yes. Without words, she was able to convey to me that this wasn’t just me having this experience. Either other customers had complained about this cashier or she herself had experienced problematic behavior from this cashier.
All of us deserve equal treatment in public forums such as grocery stores. Flirting with a customer may happen on occasion, though I suspect that this cashier uses flirting as his default behavior toward any woman who is young enough and/or pretty enough to meet his personal standards. Yet this is not always appropriate, especially when it’s clear the attention isn’t returned by the recipient of the flirtation. When other customers receive treatment that is far obviously different than what the “prized” customers receive, the societal myths of beauty and acceptability continue to be promoted in subtle ways. All of us deserve to be treated equitably in public forums such as grocery stores where all of our dollars are just as valuable as others’.
© 2015 Elizabeth Galen, Ph.D., Green Heart Guidance, LLC