Why grocery stores should not hire little old ladies as checkout clerks

So… I’d kind of tired this afternoon, but I schlep to the local Superfresh supermarket to get some essentials and restock to fridge and cupboards. After going hither and yon to get my goodies I arrive in the check out line. It’s not busy and there’s only one person behind me. I place my groceries on the belt and notice the checker. She’s a tiny, chubby older woman who looks to be in her early to mid- 60’s. She’s perfectly pleasant and as my groceries roll past she puts them in plastic bags on the low counter staging area beside the cart, and tells me I can “lay them in now” …

Wha… “Lay them in now”…??? WTF???

Alright lets take a break from the action for a moment, and yes I’m probably going to hell for this, but so what, it’s just another drop in the bucket of my many and varied sins. I realize that the grocery business has gotten more competitive lately, but part of the the reason I shop at a nominally FULL SERVICE grocery store, is so that the checkers will place my items in the cart, or at the very least put the majority of the heavier items in so I can infill with the lighter stuff. I don’t know exactly what bag you’ve got the eggs and the lettuce in lady, cause I didn’t know I needed to pay attention to how you were bagging things.

Yes, I can see you’re barely 5 feet tall, and you don’t look like you’ve got a lot of upper body strength, and yes you do look like you should be collecting Social Security and baking pies for your grandkids, not hoisting heavy groceries into grocery carts for hours at a stretch. I see all this and appreciate your dilemma, but I’m also tired, and I’m not a bag boy, and I’m paying full service grocery prices to get bagging assistance, and it pisses me off that it is plainly evident you expect me to figure out the contents of each bag, pick them up off the staging area, and stack and load my entire grocery cart by myself.

I further realize this is an obvious, physical effort for you to do this, and my ire is not directed at you little granny goodness, but at the retards in the store manager ranks that expect a little old lady to do this crap. Why are you even here? Large or small, grocery checkers have to have a certain amount of physical strength to so the job adequately, and it is evident you do not, or we would not be playing this subtle, passive-agressive “you can load your own cart” game.

… so I put all my groceries in the cart, pay and go on my way a bit pissed and a little confused if I’m justified in being pissed or not. Is this the direction all “full service” grocery stores are going? Am I wrong or petty to be pissed at being expected to do a job that the checker normally performs?

Oh my god, I feel your pain. But my issue with the old lady checker at my supermarket is not loading but speed. There can be 4 customers at one counter, and 1 customer at old Mary’s station. I’ve learned that it will be faster to stand behind the 4 than to get on Mary’s line. All she does is chitchat and ring up groceries at the speed that glaciers creep.

There’s one old lady like that at my old grocery store. I don’t remember her name, but oh, I remember her face so vividly. It’s painted like a clown…ah, yes, you’ve seen her too…

She is tiny and skinny and wasted away…now not all the old lady cashiers I have ever known are like this. Many indeed are very quick and pleasant, having done this job for ninetysome years. But this woman is…different.

Consider the apples in their shimmery bag. Take the apples. There are one, two, three apples. Place the bag of apples on the scale – gently, you don’t want the apples to bruise. Check the weight. Look at the apples to make sure they have not rolled away. Check the weight again. Push some buttons, making very certain that they are the right buttons. Pick the apples up gently, making certain again that your old lady fingers do not cause them any undue stress. Set the bag of apples down, not allowing them to roll. They must not roll. Put them at the far end of the bagging area.

Take the can. It is a soup can. The soup is Campbell’s. The bar code must be somewhere…

Lather, rinse, repeat. I think we once made the mistake of waiting for her to help us bag (and yes, Euro Dopers, I know that customers bag for themselves where you’re from. Americans are lazy and complainy, pishtosh. ;)). She is very careful with our groceries.

The second time we were stuck in her line (didn’t check to see it was her, I guess) we merrily bagged as she finished with each item. She seemed a little put out.

A full service grocery store? I dunno any grocery store that mandates we have to load up the cart.

I work as a cashier and a supervisor and we do have women at our store who are in their 50’s and can’t lift certain stuff. Heck, I’m a hearty 23 yr old and I refuse to lift big water jugs and certain things. It’s not worth killing my back in the long run. Most customers appreciate the charms and conversation of our older women.

We have european tourists who are shocked that they don’t have to pack their own groceries. I dunno, I guess we all have our own views, it really amazes me what people expect though.

Moving this to the BBQ Pit.

Out here in Southern California, the Ralphs chain has taken it a step further and introduced Uscan stations that are self serve for 10 items or less.

I’ve use them and they certainly are convenient when you’re in a hurry, but I can’t help but think as I scan my own groceries…“hey, don’t the prices I pay at this full service store reflect the fact a cashier and bagger are supposed to be doing this?”.

They have a single cashier per each of the 4 UScan stations, and I gather they are pretty efficient, because lots of people are using them since it is faster than getting the grocery store staff to do it for you, which is completely ridiculous.

What’s really funny is that Home Depot has started doing this too in our area with disasterous results. The reason is that about 50% of what they sell doesn’t have a barcode, or it fell off. How the hell do you barcode loose pipe, hose, wood, etc. anyway?

You’re actually going to let yourself get pissed off over this?

Maybe I’m going to all the wrong supermarkets, but nobody ever loads my cart, EVER. The cashier bags it (when I’m not doing self checkout) and I put it in the cart, seems perfectly normal to me. It’s not the cashier’s job to do heavy lifting just because I’m buying something heavy.

So, let me understand so I can correct any mis-apprehensions I might have about the non-warehouse, non-discount supermarket business is currently being operated in most areas nationwide. According to what you are saying it is no longer expected or common practice in most grocery stores that the checker or a checker-bagger combo will package and lay the initial groceries in the cart, but that this is now more or less entirely the customer’s job?

That is news to me.


I live in a small town and we used to have bag AND put our stuff in the cart. New folks took over and now we just load the cart.

Ditto again. Are there really different stores that are full service, and I just never go to them? I don’t think anybody has ever loaded my cart for me, anywhere, unless there was a separate bagger, which there usually isn’t. When I shop, they’ll usually bag’em as they scan, but then they just sort of leave the bags at the end of the little counter, and I load’em up.

Unless there’s a bagger, that’s how it’s done up here too. Bagger puts your stuff in the cart, but if it’s just a cashier she bags and you put the stuff in the cart your damn self. The way the counters are designed anyone who isn’t standing at the end to bag would have to throw the bags into the cart, which isn’t really good for your purchases.

But what’s a discount supermarket? We just have the standard chain stores up this way Shaws, Market Basket/DeMoulas (same chain, name depends on which state it’s in), and Hannaford/Shop & Save. I’ve never seen a store claiming to be a discount supermarket.

Give me a break.

We have to often unload baskets, make small talk, make sure kids don’t kill themselves at the automatic doors, keep an eye on the screen, smile all the while, pack, type in codes, do price checks, etc at the same time and we have to do it efficiently.

I’m not trying to be patron saint of the cashiers or anything but I think we do a damn good job for minimum wage.

I think he’s talking about heavy items, like water jugs. Which is probably why he said “heavy items, like water jugs.”


But, whenever I’ve gone grocery shopping, the cashier doesn’t even take the really heavy items out of the cart, they just use the scanner gun and scan it without moving it.

Problem averted. Is this what you were talking about, Mr. Jim?

Well live and learn!

We have codes for most heavy stuff certainly, the main point was loading the groceries into the cart though.

When people want to make a 50 yr old women load their groceries while they twiddle their thumbs and hold up the line… :rolleyes:

What about when a 23 year old “strapping” male doesn’t help a 50 yr old women load her groceries?

Nothing’s wrong with that?

Not to be cruel or anything, but what does the older lady do when she gets to her car? If she’s too feeble to load her own cart, how is she going to load her trunk, or get the stuff out when she gets home?

It’s one thing to ask an older lady to load her own groceries ONCE when she checks out. It’s another thing entirely to ask an older lady to load carts over and over and over again during an 8 hour work shift.

Jesus, astro, is there nothing else in your life to bitch about? Think of the steps required:

[ul][li]Old lady cashier scans and bags your order.[/li][li]Old lady cashier locks her register. Next customer begins fuming.[/li][li]Old lady cashier asks the customer behind her to move so she can squeeze out of her checkstand.[/li][li]Old lady cashier takes her old lady feet out from behind the register and moves to the end of the bagging area.[/li][li]Old lady cashier loads your cart.[/li][li]Old lady cashier asks the customer behind her to move so she can squeeze back into her checkstand.[/li][li]Old lady cashier unlocks her register and is ready to help the next customer.[/ul][/li]
As opposed to:
[ul][li]Old lady cashier scans and bags your order.[/li][li]You put your bags in your cart.[/ul][/li]
We have a few people like you at my store, who refuse to reload their own carts. We call them assholes or worse.

What I really hate is people who bitch to the old lady cashier that everything is taking so long because she doesn’t have a bagger, but refuse to help her bag or load the cart.

Apparently you are both reading and comprehension impaired, so I hope your store offers remedial education for you in order to remedy this. While your imaginary sequence is amusing, in my OP I indicated she was old and small, and I immediately began loading my cart when it was evident that was going to be the loading game plan. What gave me pause in consideration of the scenario after the fact, was that this was markedly different than any other service I have received at this store, where the heavier and harder items were bagged and dropped in and the customer would infill with the separated softer and more delicate items. I was also specific in indicating that my consternation at this loading change up had nothing to go with the checker personally, but was a bad management decision re the physical demands of the job.
I then asked specifically at then end of this vignette, that I was puzzled by the change up and whether I was possibly incorrect in being aggravated at this new loading regime, in that the checker duties more or less ended at bagging. People were more or less unanimous in indicating that self bagging and self loading is now the norm in much of the US. This was new information and directly responsive to my question. As I said “live and learn

I have to agree. If there’s no bagger, and if the order is large enough to take more than just a couple of bags (in which case I’d just go to the 12-items-or-fewer-self-checkout). I always offer to help bag.

I mean, they’re my groceries, so I want to make sure that they’re bagged “correctly”. Yes, Miss “I’m going to put your hamburger buns in the same bag as your soup cans and bag of flour”, I’m looking in your direction.

Not to mention the fact that, by bagging my own groceries, I ensure that the line moves faster, thus saving myself, as well as everyone in line behind me, a few minutes.

I just can’t imagine how anyone could be so upset that they have to pick up their own fucking groceries, and move them two fucking feet to place them in their shopping cart. There’s nothing anywhere in any store that I’ve been in that advertises full service. And even if they did advertise full service, only an asshole would just stand there and watch a frail old woman struggle with transferring heavy items into their cart.