While grocery shopping today, I had an interesting encounter with a cashier. She was wearing a frown as she scanned my groceries. People attempting to line up behind me were quickly told of other available lanes with no waiting. Though that could count as good customer service, her suggesting they consider other cashiers had nothing to do with customer convenience. She was frustrated, as she comfortably confided in me, that her lane was always busy while other lanes weren’t. “By the end of the day I’m mad,” she offered. Trying to be understanding,I commented she must be tired from having more customers to attend to. “That’s not it,” she admitted. “I don’t think it’s fair that I constantly have people in my lane and others get to stand around and do nothing.”

Before going further, I have to admit “that’s not fair” arguments make me twitch and spasm a bit. The expectation anything in life can be completely fair at all times is unreasonable. There are times when we have it easier than others and times when we have it harder. It’s part of the human experience. Interestingly, we rarely complain about how unfair life is when the sun is shining on us. Our sense of justice tends to swing one way.

Back to the angry cashier. By stewing over what she views as an imbalance, she is missing the bigger picture. When she proclaimed her situation unfair, my immediate opinion was “absolutely!” Not in the way she would suspect, however. In my view, she has the better deal. She’s busy enough the day passes quickly. She has more interaction with customers, so she builds more experience and establishes more relationships that could benefit her in the future. She is more valuable to the organization. Whether it’s their fault or not, the cashiers standing around with nothing to do stick out more as not pulling their weight. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes if management had to make decisions about who to lay off. Yes, things are unfair. Lucky her.

Another possibility to consider is that people choose her lane because they like her. I know I do. She’s efficient and usually friendly. Sometimes being busier than your co-workers is a testament to how customers and management view you. How is that something to be upset about? So today she waved people off to other lanes, mumbled and muttered. Such a shame.

There are many times when our situations can’t change readily. Our perspective can though. Perspective can keep us sane, positive and reasonable. Perspective can save us from sabotaging the good things we have going for us in life. Imagine if this cashier were to seek out other employment opportunities in retaliation for things not being fair where she works. Having interviewed hundreds of angry people in my career, I’d be willing to bet she’d openly share her frustration over having to work more than her co-workers. Not quite the foundation for a superstar impression. “I want to leave because I was busy all day at work.” Lovely.

1 Comment

  • Duck's Mom says:

    That's kind of sad. I know I've waited in line extra for a particular cashier because of smiles and efficiency.

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