The highs and lows of working as a cashier

How long have you been a cashier at this supermarket?

I’ve been working as a cashier for about three years now. I am good at my job and love the work that I do.

Describe the things you do on a typical day?

A typical day would start with a brief discussion with my manager about the work I am expected to do for the day. Sometimes this would consist of the manager telling me what register I am working at and nothing more. Other times I learn about another department that I am going to help for part of the day, or a project at the front that I am going to be in charge of. The days that I spend in other departments are usually right after large shipments, where my manager would need help getting as much merchandise to the sales floor as possible. The projects at the front are typically displays that need organizing or new promotional items that need to replace the old ones. I almost always close the store, which means I am the last cashier there at the end of the day. Apart from checking out people at the register, this means that I am in charge of cleaning the store at the end of the day and making sure everything is in place for the opening cashier the next morning. My day would end with my manager counting my drawer and me tidying up all of the displays in the front area to make sure they look good for the morning. If I have spare time, I would help other people put up returns in their departments so we can all leave the store quicker.

Our shop has many foreign customers, do you speak other languages? If so, how has it helped you in your job?

I speak a little bit of English, and it has actually helped me in my work. I was in one of the departments of the store once and I overheard a woman speaking English to another woman, trying to find something in the store. I offered to help them find what they were looking for. They were very grateful, and I felt proud to use my English to help someone.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your job satisfaction?

I would probably rate my job satisfaction as a cashier at about a five. While I love the work and the chance to meet new people, the salary is terrible.

How did you get your job?

I happened to hear the manager saying something about needing a new cashier. I told him I wanted to apply and he gave me an application. I turned it in a few minutes later and he offered me an interview for the next day.

What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

I had a man bring a huge cart full of picture frames to my checkout line, he then claimed he left his wallet in his motorbike and then never came back for his things. I waited for a long time before canceling the bill, but he just disappeared.

On a good day when things are going well, can you give an example of something that really makes you feel good?

The best feeling I got from the job would come from a satisfied customer who genuinely appreciated the work I did, and they are polite too.

Describe a bad day at work.

The bad days usually involved customer complaints. I am a cashier, so I am right in the line of fire for them. I would usually call a manager up to the front if a customer got out of hand, and then they would take care of it.

How stressful is your job?

I wouldn’t call the work I do “stressful” unless I was the only one working the register at a given time. Then I would be dealing with angry, impatient customers all staring down at me. I am able to leave all of that at work every day though, I don’t bring it home with me.

What’s a rough salary range for the position?

I am paid minimum wage. I think it is fair pay for minimal work, but considering the amount of side work I do for the store, I think I deserve much more.

What’s the most challenging moment you’ve experienced?

The most challenging experience I’ve had was when a person blatantly tried to return an item with a fake receipt. I had to try to tell my manager about the fraud without making it obvious that I knew about it. It was a scary situation, but it just comes with the job.

What education and skills do you need to be a cashier?

I didn’t need a particular degree for the job, no special skills needed.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

If a friend of mine wanted to work as a cashier, I would tell them that it makes a good side job but nothing to be proud of full-time. The pay is not high enough for that.

Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?

I think the main misunderstanding I want to correct about cashiers is that they don’t do anything except run a register.

IMAGE BY NGOC TRAN