Karin Fuller: Checking out on the holidays

November 25, 2018

I’m generally a goofy happy person, especially this time of year. I’m also generally a hugely patient person-in all areas but two. When stuck in traffic, and when stuck in a slow-moving checkout lane.

My goofy happy Christmas spirit has already been put to the test.

I headed out to do a quick bit of shopping at a store two miles from my house. Almost as soon as I pulled onto the road, traffic came to a halt, with me blocked in a place where I couldn’t turn around. Determined to hold onto my holiday high, I cranked up my favorite old Carpenters Christmas CD and sang along.

By the time I arrived at the store, the CD had played all the way through. I could’ve walked in high heels from my house and got there faster (and I navigate in heels about as gracefully as a two-year-old). Still, I was determined to check a few names off my list, so I quickly found the three items I’d gone there to get and headed for the register to pay.

There were few customers ahead of me, but we were moving so slow a snail whizzed by. Then a turtle. When it was my turn at checkout, I soon understood why.

Cashier: Do you have any coupons?

Me: No, I don’t.

Cashier: Are you a member of our rewards club? If you aren’t and join today, you’ll get ”

Me: Maybe another time. I’m in a hurry.

Cashier: I understand. I’ll just need your phone number.

Me: I’d rather not.

Cashier: Zip code?

Me: 30345

Cashier: Thanks. And will you be using your store credit card today?

Me: Just cash.

Cashier: If you don’t have a card, it only takes a few minutes to apply and you’ll get ten percent off ”

Me: No thanks.

Cashier: You’d get special invitations to sales for card holders only.

Me: Thanks, but no.

Cashier (looking wounded): I understand. Could I interest you in donating a dollar to our Save the Spotted Jungle Lemur Fund?

Me (feeling guilty): Sure.

Cashier: Yay! Just take this Sharpie and write your name on this banana and we’ll hang it on our tree of lemur warriors to inspire others to give.

Me: I’d rather not.

Cashier (pouting): We don’t get credit unless we get signed bananas.

Me (taking the pen):


Cashier: Thank you so much. Not just for me, but on behalf of spotted lemurs everywhere. If you’re interested in the cause, you can visit our website

Me: Thanks.

Cashier: So will you be needing any batteries today?

Me: Nope.

Cashier: I see that an extended warranty is available on this

Me: No.

Cashier: Would you like cash back?

Me: No thanks.

Cashier: Could I get your email address for an electronic receipt?

Me: Paper only is fine.

The cashier moves to catch several feet of receipt as it spits from the register (for my three items purchased), and then begins highlighting and circling sections, signs her name, and draws a smiley face beside it.

Cashier: Please take a few minutes to go online and complete our survey about your shopping experience. Those completing the survey will be eligible to win

Me: Sure.

Cashier: Our return policy is printed on the back of your receipt. You have 30 days to make a return for the full amount and after that, it’s store credit only.

I’ve purchased a home and had the transaction seem simpler.

Driving home, I thought about that poor sales clerk who had no choice but to ask all those questions. She and her coworkers were likely given lists of what to ask, and advised that secret shoppers are sent to sniff out clerks who don’t follow store protocol. I felt bad for rushing her through.

My heart goes out to those working retail during the holidays. Along with a special holiday wish that store executives wise up to how annoying those questions can be to their customers.

Karin Fuller can be reached via email at karinfuller@gmail.com.

Update hourly