On a lovely Spring afternoon in 1999, I stopped into the grocery for spring onions, smoked salmon, and some other bits for dinner. I had a fairly full hand-basket, but fewer than 15 items, so I queued up in the express lane. I set the entire basket of groceries on the check-out conveyor so as to allow for the person ahead and behind me more room for their items.
I advanced through the line and stood in front of the small ledge to sort myself and get money out of my wallet. As I was searching myself for coinage, I heard a muffled comment about a hand-basket. I look up and around and a clear “Empty your hand-basket” was directed at me.
I excused myself and got an even more castigatory “Empty your hand-basket.” Since I was in the payment area of the line, 3 feet away as well as obscured by the cashier’s scale and keyboard, I had ask people in line to back up as well as shift their items. Shocked and embarrassed, I did as I was told so as not to cause a scene.
Reader, I know that this sounds trivial, but it was normal practice for me to place a basket of groceries onto the conveyor belt. As I sort myself and get any identification, coupons, or discount cards out – the cashier would take items out of the basket and process my order. That day, I guess the cashier just had enough, and though the basket was brushing up against her arm she couldn’t be bothered to empty the basket herself.
I hope she felt big. I hope she felt triumphant ordering a customer around. I hope she remembered my face when her management told her that she was fired.
I had written a letter, that same day, that same hour, then emailed/faxed/posted it customer service. The correspondence included the receipt, where it clearly showed that she charged me twice for the smoked salmon. I cited, ageism, sexism, homophobia, and though I it was overkill, racism in the letter. I also added that my family had been shopping at the chain of stores for the last 20 plus years, and not once had they been bullied like that.
I was contacted by phone two days after. I was told that the cashier had been terminated, a refund was available at the store, and all I had to do was pick it up. I was asked by the representative if there was anything that could be done to right this wrong and get me back to shopping there. I said no, and it wasn’t necessary to go through such trouble.
I wanted the store to go down. I was angry that store made me feel small, and that I was expected to make the life of one cashiers easier. I boycotted the store and the entire chain. My family found this grudge to be petty and asked why I boycotted the store even though I had forgiven them.
The chain is being sold due to the economic downturn of the state and competition from other stores. [link]
As they close down, so does my grudge with them. I think I’ve seen the cashier at the other chain store that frequent. I empty my own hand-basket or use a cart now.