Musings of a Cashier

By: Malena Esposito

Like most high school students, I have a job. But unlike most high school students, I love my job. My job is at a grocery store, and I can happily say that it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever been a part of.

I’ve worked there for just over a year now and was initially hired to be a “courtesy clerk.” Taking care of carts, taking out the trash, putting away groceries, and sweeping around the store—you name it, I did it (more like, you spilt it, I cleaned it). However, due to recent events, I’ve also earned a spot on the register as a cashier, not only bagging the produce, but scanning it, too. I currently manage both positions at the front end of the store, alternating between typing in PLU codes and hauling carts in from the racks outside.

When I say “I love my job,” I really mean it. Sure, we all have bad shifts, but I’m lucky I’m able to clock out with a smile on my face as often as I do. Whether it’s about the jokes I crack with my coworkers, a conversation I had with a customer, a product I was begged to try, or how busy or empty it was, there’s always a grocery store story that I’m just dying to tell.

But no matter how diverse the stories are, no matter how diverse the people are, there is one running theme that I can’t fail to notice, time and time again.

You see, when you’re my age, and you’ve worked somewhere as long as I have, it changes you. Throughout this past year, I’ve completely grown as a person, and I credit much of this growth to my job. I’ve never had to smile at so many strangers or ask so many people how they were doing or if they found everything okay. My job has required me to be more vocal and extroverted than I’ve ever had to be before, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Because by stepping out of my comfort zone, I’ve stepped into a whole new world of knowledge and life lessons that I would’ve never been aware of otherwise. I wish everyone could learn what I have, but if I could condense it into one thing, that one thing I’ve noticed from the stories and the people, it would be this:

There are over seven billion people on this earth. I don’t know how many I’ve talked to, or how many I’ve smiled it, but I do know that it’s nowhere near as big as that number. I also know that those seven billion people, whether I’ve checked them out at my register or not, have all lived the day differently. Every single one of us.

There are over seven billion people on this earth. The ones that come to my grocery store come to buy groceries to provide for their families. The ones that work at my grocery store come to make money to provide for their families. Some come after church, a soccer game, or school. Some come before a night out, a hearty meal, or a late night Netflix binge.

We all live each and every single day differently, and I think many fail to realize that. There are over 7 billion people on this earth, and none of them are exactly the same. Which is why I think it’s important to step out of your comfort zone and into someone else’s shoes.

That person who yelled at you when her transaction failed? She could barely afford it the first time. That person who came into the store right before closing? She couldn’t make it any earlier because her sister died. That person who was in a rush and said they didn’t need their receipt? They just got a call from the hospital.

But stepping into someone else’s shoes doesn’t have to be negative, either.

That little boy dressed in his soccer uniform? He just scored his first goal. That girl who had her makeup all done, eyeliner to contour? She just graduated. That man who bought those flowers? He’s celebrating his anniversary with his wife.

My point here is this:

We are all people. We all live each and every single day differently and should not be so oblivious to this. We shouldn’t be so involved in our own lives that we fail to acknowledge our neighbors, whether it be in good light or bad.

I’m telling you, the littlest things can make someone’s day a little brighter.

Last Sunday, I wished as many customers as I could a Happy Mother’s Day. I asked them what their plans were. Some were going out to dinner, some were driving back from the beach, some were driving their kids around, and some couldn’t even be with their kids because they were off at college.

Last Monday, I went grocery shopping at a store that wasn’t mine. I went to this young lady’s lane because it wasn’t the first time I saw her. I told her I knew I had to hop in her line, and she said it really made late night light up.

You absolutely never know what someone is going through. The time you see them, especially just passing through a grocery store, is not enough to understand what they’re going through as soon as they check out.

Be kind, please. Even to the people that don’t seem like they deserve it. Maybe that’s just their personality, but I can almost guarantee that something else is going on, and I can almost guarantee that your good deed is going to be what they’ll remember looking back on the day. Maybe it’s just a conversation or a compliment or a smile or maybe you even let someone with a smaller order cut in front of you, but it does make a difference. Be that difference, and together, we can all make the world a better place.

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