Retail Disease #1: “Can You Throw This Away For Me?”
I work at a grocery store. But it’s not one of those boring, publicly-traded establishments with national name brands like Doritos, and completely indifferent employees, like this guy. No, this is a store that’s got an organic/local reputation (however dubious), private-label preservative-free imitations of Doritos, free samples, and people who will patiently hold your hand as you agonize over whether the chardonnay for your sister’s wedding should be more oaky or more buttery—and herein lies the problem.
Stores like these have a way of… doing things to people. Making them sick. My experience has shown me that a shop’s treatment of its clientele has an inversely proportionate relationship with said clientele’s decorum and exhibited intelligence. It’s almost like good treatment is a clarion call for customers to see how much entitled bullshit they can get away with. Or maybe it’s that these stores attract people who were already shitheads to begin with. I don’t know the exact origin of this diverse illness, and I don’t give a flying fuck, because you have no excuse for treating those who serve you as if they were subhuman, especially when: 1) you’re not fucking 1700s European royalty, and 2) you idiots can’t even remember not to adjust your genitals in public (probably because precious motor-control signals are being devoted to moving your lips as you read the ingredients on your jar of pasta sauce—I mean, Jesus, who could remember tomatoes, garlic, and basil?)
Contrary to what you may believe due to the courtesan-like nature of our work, your behavior is not normal, and we lowly denizens of retail don’t like you. We’re not actually sympathetic to your organic-GMO-kosher-free-range tirades when we are not the decision-makers and there are other stores that cater to those needs. We don’t find your inability to consider the bottom shelf when looking for an item to be amusing, cute, or even understandable. Our disgust for you is only very slightly outweighed by our current dependence on this job. We are Only Nice To Your Face. It seems you’ve contracted a Retail Disease.
There are many different types of retail diseases. Some appear in isolation in otherwise healthy customers, while other diseases appear to go hand in hand—without proper treatment, one illness will almost surely beget another, and another…
If you suspect you may have a retail disease and are open to therapy, however, treatment is available. Take a look through this series and see if any of these sound like you…
Retail Disease #1: “Can You Throw This Away for Me?”
Symptoms: You hand your garbage (sometimes presenting as a 3-oz sample cup bearing coffee residue and/or your gummy-ass lipstick) to your cashier and say, “Can you throw this away for me?” rather than throw it away yourself in any of the numerous receptacles scattered around the shop.
Diagnosis: You are a fucking entitled self-absorbed shit-spawn.
You’re probably feeling angry, scared, or even confused about this. This is normal. Learning that you are a fucking entitled self-absorbed shit-spawn is never easy. Even when you hear about people you know being fucking entitled self-absorbed shit-spawns, it’s common to think, “I’m not a fucking entitled self-absorbed shit-spawn,” until confronted with it. You probably have a lot of questions. Fortunately, we’ve got answers…
#1. “No no, I’M not like that—I say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when I hand you my trash.”
Oh! I didn’t know that using rehearsed, everyday pleasantries to bookend condescending phrases magically turns the speaker from ill-mannered punk to Emily Fucking Post! It’s not about how polite you are otherwise, it’s about the actual content of your request—specifically, a demeaning request mired in self-importance. When you ask something like this, it becomes obvious that “please” and “thank you” don’t mean anything coming from you; if they did, and if you were amenable to me treating you in kind, I could say, “Please, go drown yourself in a bucket of elephant diarrhea—thanks!” and still get to keep my job.
#2. “You’ve got a trash can right there with you, why don’t you just throw it away for me? It’s not a big deal.”
That’s funny, because just a few minutes ago you were bitching about how the fragile patch of rainforest that is your immune system would wither and perish because there weren’t any sanitizing cloths to wipe down the cart handles. And then you started shopping and realized that we were out of your precious homeopathic medicine that you rely on instead of vaccination—just in time for flu season! Man, it’s like we’re trying to KILL you! You probably shouldn’t drink that free cup of coffee, we probably put scurvy in it!!! (No, no, you’d better drink it anyway, it would be a shame if you accidentally gave the impression that we don’t, in fact, OWE you free shit by turning it down this once.)
But THEN you get up to my register, proffering, with your cart-tainted hand, a specimen of waste squirming with your unvaccinated mouth-sweat… and suddenly, it’s “not a big deal.”
Why do I have to just throw it away for you? Why can’t you just throw it away before you get to the fucking register?
#3. “Well, I didn’t see a trash can anywhere while I was shopping.”
No no no. What you mean to say is, “I didn’t bother to look for a trash can while I was shopping.” This is treatable—LOOK FOR A FUCKING TRASH CAN. They’re around 3 feet tall, they’re usually black or beige or something. Still don’t see one? Find me and say, “Excuse me, is there a trash can around here?”
#4. “Well, the last cashier that rang me up didn’t mind throwing my trash away.”
I hope you don’t extend this logic to your sex partners.
Especially since, judging by your lack of embarrassment, you seem to be really into “helplessness,” if you know what I mean…
#5. “Just suck it up, it’s part of your job.”
I am not a waiter, nor a busser, nor do I work in sanitation. My job, as a cashier, is to ring your groceries, be generally pleasant to your obnoxious self, and sometimes put your groceries in bags. (Besides, even though a busser picks up trash during hir job, there’s still only certain times and places when this is acceptable—it would still be rude as fuck to walk into the kitchen where ze was unloading dishes just to hand hir some more of your trash and ask, “Can you throw this away for me?”)
Of course, your shit attitude tells me that you’ve caught onto our store policy that requires us to accompany you to the restroom and wipe your ass with our tongues (“it’s just so much SOFTER”.) So you figure that it is, therefore, not only my “job,” but also your prerogative to cede any crumb of personal agency that, in any other context, would be so inconsequential as to escape your notice entirely (like tossing your own garbage—If you’re in an empty hotel lobby and have just polished off your foo-foo skinny latte with stevia, do you think to yourself, “God DAMN I wish there was someone around to throw this away for me?”) But your ability to recognize and exploit a dehumanizing system does not make your actions “right.”
Case in point: would you, or would you not, throw a shit fit if someone came up to your desk at whatever miserable hole you work in and asked you “politely” to throw away their empty Yoplait containers?
#6. “Well yeah, but I’ve earned more respect than you because I have a REAL job in an office, you’re just scanning and bagging groceries, so I can treat you however I want.”
Yeah, you’re really changing the world with your end-of-the-month spreadsheets at your “real” job with that company that produces other sheets of paper with other people’s numbers on them. Your value: look at it climb.
#7. “No no, I actually have a job where I feed the homeless/am an ambassador/snuggle with ICU babies.”
I don’t give a fuck.
Stop stretching out the babies’ diapers.
#8. “Yeah, well, I don’t like to be called out on my shitty behavior, so I’m just going to leave it in the cart or on your register instead. Then you’ll be FORCED to pick it up, and I can rest easy in the conviction that I was putting a stupid plebe in hir place, and definitely NOT exhibiting signs of crippling codependency.”
You crafty little bastard.
Don’t be surprised if it ends up in your grocery bags, fucker.
More Retail Diseases to Come…