Look Into Their Eyes

If you work behind a till, it must be depressing that no-one ever really looks at you properly.

Over the last few years I have perfected the technical operation of shopping to such a high level of quality and efficiency that I could do it with my eyes shut. And I might as well, because it’s occurred to me how easy it is to completely avoid eye contact with the person serving you.

Take supermarket shopping as an example. The customer in front of you pays and walks off and you shuffle along, eager to take up prime position and do your pre-flight checks before the Greek yoghurt starts hurtling towards you. As you walk past to get into position the cashier says “hi” and mentions something about helping you and you say, “hi it’s ok thanks”, though really what you mean is, “yeh, whatever, just get on with it”.

The race is now on and the produce comes thick and fast. I have long since given myself the edge here, though: I go to the supermarket tooled up with a couple of empty cardboard boxes (that I’ve previously taken from the fruit and veg section of the supermarket; they don’t seem to mind), so I don’t have to fuck around with plastic bags like the other losers. Packing the shopping, for me, is now actually a relaxing game of Tetris.

Job done, I put the boxes in the trolley, put my credit card into the machine and I type in my PIN. As the payment goes through I make a few final adjustments to the boxes to try and get a High Score and I also prepare my wallet for the receipt and the card.

The cashier tells me I can remove the card and experience has taught me this is usually at the same time that I see “Remove Card” on the machine, give or take a couple of seconds. I take my card, get my receipt, put the card and the now-folded receipt into my wallet and I’m outta there, baby. Pretty much no eye contact at all.

If I had a job which involved providing a frontline service to members of the public, and the public couldn’t be bothered to look at me properly, I don’t think it would be good for my self-esteem and neither do I think it would incentivise me to give great service.

It’s often said that we get the politicians we deserve and the customer service we deserve. Well I’m going to make a bit more of an effort in future to actually look at the person serving me. A smile goes a long way, apparently.

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