Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Both sides of the counter by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink

I wrote this a long time ago, while I was still working at the post office. While this was my favorite time of year to be a window clerk, it was also the hardest. I doubt that's changed since I retired. Merry Christmas!

It is December, the time of retail dreams. Or nightmares. It can go either way. Although my job is not precisely retail, I do spend many hours each day working with the public. December’s our busiest time, and I come home at night with both my feet and my smiler worn out. On the way home today, when I was congratulating myself for not screaming, “HURRY UP!” to a customer who wouldn’t move, I thought a behavior list would be a good idea. You know, from the point of view of the person behind the counter who has sore feet and a smile that’s fraying around the edges.

Then I thought—it’s a long drive home; lots of time for thinking—I should also make a list for folks on the other side of the counter. I was a consumer before I was a public servant. Sitting here hungry and half asleep, I’ve tried to decide which list to start with. In the interest of being fair, I flipped a coin.

The person behind the counter won the toss—winning depending on how you look at it. Therefore, if you are the clerk/cashier/whoever-else-is-serving the public, here are a few basic rules.

• Say please and thank you and smile. While you’re meeting the customer’s eyes. If you look over his right shoulder, all bets are off.
• Stay off the phone unless being on it is your job.
• If the bill ends is $5.23 and the customer gives you $20.25, know how to count the change back. Don’t wad it up and put it in her hand.
• If someone jumps the line and you catch him, tell him kindly he’ll have to take his turn. You can grind your teeth, but smile while you’re doing it.
• If your friends stop by to visit, tell them to go home.
• If you’re bored, don’t look it. Stay busy.
• If you don’t know the answer to a question, find someone who does.
• Use lots of hand sanitizer.
• If you haven’t had a complete 10-minute break since the second week of August, well, sorry. That’s just the way it goes. It’s not the fault of the customer in front of you.
• If a customer gives you a hard time, call him names in your head and hope he walks out in the rain to a flat tire, but don’t take it out on the next customer. He’s innocent.
• If you’re required by management so far up the corporate ladder they have nosebleed to ask stupid questions of the clientele, just ask them. You can’t get out of it and everybody knows you didn’t make them up.
• Don’t make fun of anybody in front of a customer. Even if you’re funny, chances are good someone will hear you who’s either hurt or offended by your attempt at humor.

And now, if you are a customer, here’s a list for you.

• Leave your cell phone in the car.
• If you’re writing a check, have it made out as far as the amount. Don’t fill out your check register while people behind you are waiting.
• Leave your cell phone in the car.
• If you have a complaint, be civil about it. Ask to speak to a manager. Chances are good the person waiting on you can’t help you, but they can help the people behind you.
• If you think you know their job, forget it. Unless you’re doing it on that particular day in that particular place, you don’t.
• Leave your cell phone in the car.
• Don’t hand over a fifty to pay for a candy bar. The cashier’s change is limited.
• If you can’t speak English, bring along someone who can. The person behind the counter can’t help you if she can’t understand you, and being multilingual isn’t on most people’s job descriptions.
• Don’t complain about the prices. The person taking your money doesn’t set them.
• The service person is not your babysitter. Don’t expect them to do everything for you.
• If you need to blow your nose, do so. Bum a tissue if you need to.
• Leave your cell phone in the car.

I’m sure I’ve left things off these lists, but they’re a good place for all of us to start. I hope you have a good week, whether you’re shopping or selling or both. Till next time.

1 comment:

  1. Love this and yes to everything! Particularly, leave your cell phone in the car!!