Proper Etiquette in the Checkout Line

By Persephone

For the last three months, I’ve been a checker at Safeway.  You might have noticed that my articles have been very hit and miss this summer, and that’s a significant reason why.  I’ve also been taking classes and teaching a class, but the tumultuous schedule and mind-numbing work at Safeway has played a significant factor.

I’ve never worked in a store before.  I’ve worked many other jobs, including in a warehouse, but this one was a new one.  All the chitchatting and socialization that came along with it took some adjustment, but I managed.  Although I haven’t hated the job, I knew it was only a summer gig.  I have student teaching this fall to get through.  With my position at Safeway about to end, however, I thought I should partake of a little wisdom to anyone going through the checkout line in a store.  There are a few trends that should be squelched immediately:

  1. Stop making comments about the checker’s name.  My real name is rather pretty, and everyone has to ask me questions about it.  This gets old.  If something crosses your mind as a really clever comment about someone’s name in a store, don’t say it.  We’ve already heard it so much that we’re sick of having name tags.
  2. If you decide not to buy something, don’t hand it to us to put away.  We’re already understaffed, and now you’re sticking us with more to do because you’re too lazy to do it yourself.  This goes double for perishable items like ice cream or meat.  Put it away your own damn selves.
  3. When it’s time to pay for your groceries, get off your fucking cell phone.  It’s rude to the checker and to the people waiting in line behind you.  Plus, I shouldn’t have to tell you this is rude.  Honestly.
  4. When your groceries have been bagged and put aside, please put the bags in your cart.  I don’t know how many times a person just stared at me as I checked and bagged their stuff, waiting to put the bags up until they’d paid and it was time for the next person to get through the line.  Pay attention, people.
  5. Don’t wait until everything is through and it’s time to pay before you remember that there was something else you needed.  Or, if you do, pay, go find it, and go through the line again.  I’ve had to stand there for five minutes with an increasingly pissed off line of people because someone remembered at the last second that they needed barbecue sauce.  This is what lists are for.
  6. Don’t take it out on the checkers or the courtesy clerks if you didn’t find what you wanted or you thought your groceries were too expensive.  We aren’t the people who stock the shelves or set the prices.  We just get yelled at for it.
  7. If the city or state we work in requires us to card everyone for buying liquor regardless of age, don’t get mad at us.  We are literally just doing our jobs when we card you when you’re clearly in your eighties.  Grow up.
  8. Don’t wait until you’ve already paid before noticing that a coupon or sale didn’t go through.  If it’s that important, notice it before your credit card cleared.  It’s so much easier for us to fix it then.
  9. Be polite.  This isn’t to mean that you have to make conversation.  To be honest, I prefer not to do a lot of chitchatting.  Making small talk is exhausting after eight or nine hours of it.  That doesn’t mean you can snap at me because you’re having a bad day.  I didn’t personally cause it.

Despite this list of advice, I didn’t actually dislike checking.  The vast majority of the people I met were extremely polite and simply wanted to get their groceries and move on with their day.  I can totally relate to that.  However, even if only one person in twenty is extremely rude, it can ruin your whole shift.  Remember that we make minimum wage.  Remember that only an asshole yells at a person who makes minimum wage and still finds the energy to smile politely at you.

Why be Such a Dick to Someone Trying to do their Job?

By Persephone

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 20% of the United States workforce is devoted to the retail and wholesale industry.  Two weeks ago, I joined this number when I started a job as a checker at Safeway.

Eh.  It’s a summer job.  It forced me out of my comfort zone, as I’m dealing with a lot of strangers in a row.  Considering my history with social anxiety, this was probably a dumb job to take on, but I’ve never been known for making intelligent life choices.  Oh, well.  The paychecks from this job should sustain me when I conduct my student teaching this fall, and that’s all that matters.

Yesterday, though, I ran into a total asshole.  When I first greet people checking out at a grocery store, I always ask, “How are you doing?”  It’s inane but polite, and around 95% of the strangers I’ve said this to over the last few weeks have responded, “Just fine.  How are you?”  I say I’m doing great, and we move on with their transaction.  Thank goodness, there’s no drama in that.

Now, yesterday, I had a long line, and then I got stuck for a few minutes with one customer with like twenty items from the produce section.  When there’s no stickers on vegetables or fruit, I have to look up each item individually (remember, I’m new, so I don’t know all the codes).  This takes an extra minute or two to get through so much produce.  However, I got through it, and the line moved down.  When one older gentleman got to move his booze on through, I asked him, “How are you?” and he asked how the hell I could maintain a job when I’m so slow.

There was no warning.  He just slammed into me.  I stammered and apologized, and he proceeded to lambaste me as I finished his transaction as quickly as I could.  He even warned the person behind him to avoid this cashier, as I was so inefficient.

I’ll admit…this altercation shook me.  For about two hours afterwards, it drove down my confidence to zero, and I made several easily avoidable mistakes.

So, I’ve been thinking about this.  I’m 31 years old.  I’m currently working towards two Master’s degrees.  I’m only going to have to suffer through this job for about another two months, then I go back to working in education.  I’ve dealt with much worse freakouts than this one–hell, I’ve been a substitute teacher for three years, a bus driver, and an in-home caregiver for six years.  I’m used to grumpy old clients as a caregiver and dramatic teenagers as a teacher.  This guy couldn’t throw out any insults that I hadn’t already heard a thousand times over.

Yet, he still got to me.  He made me doubt myself.

What really bothers me about this is, he couldn’t have known that my life is more than Safeway.  I look young.  I could easily have been 19 or 20 years old.  I could be looking at years of being a cashier.  I could have no other future than Safeway.  If I’d been that young and inexperienced…if this was the only job I could get, how much would this have affected me? Ten years ago, this would have devastated me.  Just look how much it affected me yesterday.

I’ll admit it–I’m new to the job, and I’m not as fast as the more experienced checkers.  However, even if I’m slow as molasses, it is not okay for someone to jump down a cashier’s throat like that.  I wasn’t rude, and I was clearly trying my best.  When you see a cashier making little more than minimum wage under such conditions, and your first response is to take out all your frustrations on her, it doesn’t make you the bigger man.

It just makes you an asshole.

Gay Novels

By Persephone

As you may or may not have noticed after reading some of the articles posted on this website, I’m gay.  I’m actually quite the lesbian, which is depressing considering how rural the area I live in is.  Say what you will about cities, but at least there are gay people there.  In my town, there’s a gay population of one.  It gets rather depressing sometimes.

This isn’t to say that I don’t know any gay people.  I started attending a local gay support group an hour’s drive away, and I’m going to the gay pride parade in Yakima this Saturday.  I’m trying to establish myself in a community so that I’m not the only homosexual in my universe, and this connection does help.

Even so, I’d like to just say how much I hate gay novels.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  Gay novels are improving rapidly, and just a few weeks ago I read several regency romances by Cat Sebastian that were delightful.  They were sweet, well written, funny, and the romance was rather believable.  But they also involved two dudes.  I found it sweet, but the sex scenes were just awkward for me to read…what can I say?  I’m a lesbian.  Two guys together just don’t inspire much lust in me.  For some reason.

Discovering these books, however, did inspire me to seek out lesbian romances.  This happens to me about once a year.  I just get so tired of all the heterosexual novels out there that I decide to go out and buy a slew of lesbian novels and binge read them.  Every year, I hope that they’ll improve.  Every year, I hope that lesbian novels will no longer suck.  And my hopes keep on getting dashed.

It’s not just the typos.  It’s not just the lack of plot.  It’s really that the romances themselves aren’t believable.  I recently finished reading about ten lesbian novels that I found on amazon, and they mostly straight-up sucked.  The heroines sure like to contemplate and talk a lot about their attraction to each other, but it’s amazing how rarely the authors even include dialogue.  When the characters do talk to one another, it conversations sound clunky and awkward.  There’s absolutely no chemistry at all.  In short, the romances aren’t credible.

I’m not sure why lesbians keep writing novels where the two main characters seem more afraid of each other when they’re talking and all idealistic about each other when they’re not, but we really do need to up our game.  We are clearly leaps and bounds behind gay men in this area, and we need to improve.  There’s no reason why two girls couldn’t end up together in a regency romance, too.

I have read a few good lesbian novels, don’t get me wrong, but they’re few and far between.  Sara Waters is usually pretty good (although don’t read Affinity, as it’s just depressing), and Red Falcon’s District by Leilani Beck is pretty good, but these are the rare exceptions.  Not the rule.

Women are supposed to be the queens of writing romance.  We really need to remember that and write good stories for our much neglected lesbian audience.  We’ve suffered enough.

Oh, the Things We Volunteer For…

By Persephone

So, my sister and I took a class on how to make and use royal icing a few weeks ago.  Yeah.  It turns out that this technique is quite a thing.  I mean, I taught myself using youtube videos how to frost cakes all fancy using buttercream, but that’s something I can only do in winter.  It turns out that buttercream melts even as you’re piping the fancy designs on the cake.  This is a problem.

But royal icing isn’t anywhere near that fussy.  It turns out that it’s also rather fun.  The only problem is that suddenly my sister and I were baking buttloads for the school.  I kid you not.  Two nights ago, my sister and I worked until one in the morning frosting 150 cookies.  The night before, I’d made a number of them to take to my monthly EMT training (like you do).

I’m still not sure why I did any of it, other than everybody likes cookies.  My poor sister, though.  I’m the one who keeps coming up with these ideas or agreeing to other people’s ideas.  My sister simply goes with it.

Anyway, check out the cookies.  Aren’t they so pretty?  There ones in red (well…pink…we didn’t have enough red food coloring) and gold are the school’s colors.

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Here’s Why You Haven’t Heard From Me In a While…

By Persephone

Right now, I’m trying to do a mad dash to finish all my homework (the term ends in two weeks) and get it in on time.  Between that and a full work schedule, I have no time for my website.

Which is a shame, because I miss it, and I cannot believe Donald Trump fired James Comey!!!  I wish so much I had the time or the energy to dissect this matter, but I don’t.  As soon as I get back on track (hopefully within another week or two), I’ll be back to interpret what shit has been hitting the fan in my absence.  In the meantime, try not to actually break your television or computer screens.  I know: it’s a challenge.

Good luck!

How Non-Christians View Easter

By Persephone

I’ve made no secret of my own religious beliefs.  My friends and family know it, but I try not to be super preachy about it.  I’m just very quietly Druid, and yet somehow people are still offended by it.  They assume that means I’m spiritual without being religious.  That I just haven’t found Jesus yet.  That this means I have no moral values.

Sigh.  Where do I even start?

Can I just say, I’m really tired of Christians assuming everything to do with non-Christians?  For one thing, we’re not all the same.  Vox recently did an article saying that the number of atheists in this country could be as high as 26%.  While that number does seem a little high, I can deal with it.  However, their methods make no sense to me.  The entire vetting process to reach those numbers is through the simple question, “Do you believe in God?”

Now, I can believe quite readily that 26% of Americans don’t believe in God.  That’s believable.  It just means that they’re not monotheists.  As in, they don’t fall into the category of Christians, Muslims, or Jews.  That’s right.  Since I’m not a monotheist myself–I do not believe in God–I lump you all together.  No one’s ever managed to explain to my satisfaction the animosity between those three major world religions.  If three groups of people believe in God, that should be enough for them to get along.  Apparently, it’s all the extras attached to their faiths that caused all the millions of deaths over the last several millennia.  Bizarre.

However, not believing in God doesn’t make a person Atheist.  You’d think that the PhD psychologists conducting this study would have noticed the distinction.  I don’t believe in God, but Atheists take it a step further and don’t believe in any form of the afterlife.

That’s not me.  I believe our higher power is our planet.  She guides and protects us.  When I pray, I pray to my ancestors who have passed before me.  I practically have my father’s spirit on speed dial.  If you find that weird, bite me.  Christians follow a book that states people with poor eyesight should be stoned to death.  My beliefs are nowhere near that whack.

But that’s the point, isn’t it?  My faith is my faith.  No one else’s.  I might not agree with a lot of Christian teachings, but I’m not going to tell them that they’re wrong either.  As long as you allow me to believe in my own faith, I’ll leave yours alone.  The same goes for all other religions.  Because, as I said, not all non-Christians are Atheist.  This list includes Shintoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, various tribal religions, and so many other freaking religions that have been around a lot longer than these upstart monotheistic faiths.  Hell, some people even make up their own religion.  Such is the joy of living in a country whose very first amendment granted us freedom of religion.

So, yeah.  I got to celebrate Easter today.  It’s one of my favorite Pagan holidays.  Since we celebrate it with such emphasis on the bunnies and the eggs, the original Pagan theme of fertility is still riding strong.  I don’t know how anyone fits in all that resurrection talk when all kids want to do is dress up, hunt for eggs, and hug the Easter bunny.  Tee hee.

Getting That Teaching Certificate: It’s a Bitch and a Half

By Persephone

I’m pretty sure that my articles for this website are going to be hit and miss this week, as well as the next, but I actually have an excellent excuse this time.  I’m doing my observations!!

What are observations?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  They’re a practice all aspiring teachers (like myself) must undertake.  They entail teaching students sitting in the back of classrooms, doing nothing, and trying not to cry from the boredom.  I’m lucky that I’m working with some awesome Social Studies teachers (my endorsement), but I still hate to just sit there.  It’s never been in my nature.  Eventually, I have to start getting involved and have some “active engagement” with the students, but I’m hesitant on that score.  For one thing, I’m pretty sure it encroaches on those poor teachers, and I already feel like I’m overstepping my bounds.  I’ve taught in classrooms long term before, and I hated sharing my classroom.  I couldn’t imagine having a classroom for years then sharing it with a stranger.  I’d loathe the very sight of them.

Such is the life of a teaching student, however.  I lose two weeks of work while annoying some really talented teachers.  All the while, I have to type up notes and write papers about the experience.  Yup.  Not frustrating at all.  It’s all in preparation for this fall when I have to give up 12 weeks of work for the giant headache that is student teaching.

I get the apprentice-like aspect of these teaching requirements.  I really do.  It makes sense on the surface that you’d want your children’s educators to be put through their paces like this.  Teachers need to study other teachers.  They need to really know what they’re doing.  Unfortunately, I think it might also have the negative effect of deterring some genuinely excellent and smart people.   I mean, seriously: who can actually afford to lose so many months of work while still attending college full-time?  Not many people.  Smart people are likely to take a business-type job right out of college.

There’s not a lot of gratitude out there for good teachers, either.  If you’re doing a good job, no one says anything.  If you’re doing a so-so job, then parents are all up in your business.  So, I think student teaching might not necessarily produce the best teachers, but it does produce the most stubborn.  Stubborn people have their place, and this is a beneficial trait for a teacher surely, but it really depends on your reasons for becoming a teacher in the first place.  If you’re stubborn because you just want to help children learn that freaking much, then you’re going to be a great teacher.  If you go through the process because you want a job with academic ambition and your summers off, you’re probably not the best example of the profession.  I’m pretty sure I’m somewhere between these two, so I’ll probably be an okay teacher at best.

Oh, well.  At least I enjoy the subject.  Social studies rocks!