Enough is enough: Save cashiers from mask-less, non-distancing customers

If customers are ‘always right,’ then make them do the right thing

Photo credit: Kay Lau/Unsplash

She stood there reading a newspaper and sorting through coupons, and everything in me wanted to just smack it out of her hand. (Proper home training and the legal system were getting in the way of me doing it though. Ugh.) I glanced at the cashier, who looked helpless as the customer read on. His barrier was only propped up along the cash register and credit card swiper. But she decided she didn’t feel like going to four other open and empty register counters.

He pushed her bags to her in the open bagging area. She stood in place, moved the bags to the side and spread out her two-fold newspaper, happily reading away with a line full of people — and me — less than 4 feet away from her and the cashier an arm’s reach away. For some reason, she didn’t care that her newspaper was spread out over the entire bagging area.

“Can you read your newspaper over there on an empty row?” I asked her.

“No, they’re too heavy to pick up,” she responded behind her face mask.

Bullshit. I’d watched her carry a basket full of groceries plus balance the four newspapers on a shopping basket. She could pick up those papers. She just didn’t want to. She could move away from the cashier, who had no choice but to be less than 6 feet away from her. She just didn’t want to. In a store that already charges $1 for everything, apparently not finding this coupon was a much bigger deal to her than the health of the cashier. And it was pissing me off.

While recent news is floating around about Walmart requiring customers in the U.S. to all wear face masks, my first response was, “What took you so long?” When I go to Target, face masks are required. In Food4Less, face masks are required. Even in this Dollar Tree where I stood, there were face mask signs on the door. So how in the world did the top retailer in the United States, which brings in more than $387 billion, somehow miss the memo that face masks went from being a suggestion to a requirement?

It’s been a long time coming, but the National Retail Federation issued a statement to all retailers, encouraging them to adopt a nationwide policy that requires customers to wear face coverings or masks to protect the health and well-being of customers, associates and partners during the coronavirus pandemic. Again, I wondered what took so long. Did the Trader Joe’s temper tantrum have to happen for retailers nationwide to get it? Or, was the issue that they didn’t want to upset physically grown women who throw things when they can’t get their way? Or, maybe retailers didn’t want to upset the “I feel threatened” types?

Photo credit: August de Richelieu/Pexels

It’s difficult to call it, especially when business owners and Corporate America companies are opening their own doors and requiring employees wear masks when they enter. So if they can do it, one must wonder, “Why can’t the customer looking for coupons?”

But cashiers are steadily being put in harm’s way to try to do their jobs and deal with this level of foolishness. And it’s time for customers to finally have their backs on a consistent basis. We feed into that nonsense about “the customer is always right.” OK, cool, well let the customer be right about grown-ups losing their minds over trying to save lives — and ignoring the 3.4 million U.S. people infected with coronavirus and almost 136K who have died from it. Speak up.

I’d had enough of the newspaper lady. I could’ve left the store and let her keep on reading while observing the cashier grow increasingly uncomfortable. But my mother’s motto to “just be quiet sometimes, Shamontiel” only goes so far.

“You need to move!” I finally barked. “He can’t tell you because he’ll get fired, but I don’t work in this place. You are entirely too close to him, and you can flip through that newspaper over there.”

The newspaper reader huffed at me, with the coupon section still in her hand. I stared at her. She stared at me. And finally the cashier spoke up.

“Yes, ma’am, can you please go over there?” he asked, looking at me with a “thank you” in his eyes.

The customer scowled at me behind her face mask. I met her with the same look. And I heard her sigh and walk to the next register. With that, I strolled out of the store but looked back again to make sure she stayed a few feet away from him and the customers behind me.

Wearing a face mask does not change the need to respect cashiers’ social distancing space, too. There’s a reason that there are stickers on the floor to remind people to keep a 6-foot distance. Cashiers are risking their lives every day and trying to feed their own families and pay their own bills. Do them a solid. Be the “right” customer and stand up for their rights, too.

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We Need to Talk

Often oddball views on family, dating and activism.

Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Written by

Check out her six Medium pubs: BlackTechLogy, Doggone World, Homegrown, I Do See Color, Tickled and We Need to Talk. Visit Shamontiel.com to read about her.

We Need to Talk

Let’s chat about my oddball thoughts on family, relationships and activism — with a dose of comedy, too.

Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Written by

Check out her six Medium pubs: BlackTechLogy, Doggone World, Homegrown, I Do See Color, Tickled and We Need to Talk. Visit Shamontiel.com to read about her.

We Need to Talk

Let’s chat about my oddball thoughts on family, relationships and activism — with a dose of comedy, too.

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