Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Checkout line conversations

Do you ever find yourself trapped in the oft-dreaded checkout conversation or am I the only one who actually reaches out for these bizarre interactions with actual living, breathing humans?

Sure, there was the incident a few weeks back as I purchased two 24-packs of oh-so-delicious Coca-Cola Classic at an area Cub Foods store. This kid was either the extremely outgoing type or one of those borderline "I ride the short bus" types that was integrated into society and hired as sort of a community outreach by the grocery giant.

The conversation itself was rather brief but weird nonetheless. Desperate for human interaction himself, he commented on the packaging of my 48 can purchase of Coca-Cola Classic. Noting that before Halloween the pressed cardboard packaging was adorned with the newest Christmas packaging scheme rolled out by the Atlanta-based soda conglomerate.

"Wow, Christmas already? It isn't even Halloween", the teenager stated.

As I absorbed a rather normal but extremely observant statement from the kid, I snapped back "Yeah, this kind of crap is insane but I work in advertising so it pays the bills. I look at it as selling my soul for Coke."

I stood as I pulled out my check card glancing periodically at the now perplexed face sported by this checker whose previous human interaction was likely a Magic: The Gathering fansite. I thought about explaining the selling my soul line but it just wasn't worth it.

I had reached out to a kid in need of some tried and true humor and he didn't catch it. I walked to the end of the black rubber belted checkout and grabbed my purchases wondering if about ten minutes later, after rehashing the conversation over and over something would finally click and he'd bust out laughing. I then wondered if he'd be laughing at the admittedly weak joke or laughing at me. Then I realized that I truly didn't give a damn. There would be other encounters for sure. The one Thursday at a Pamida (yes, I said Pamida) store was another conversation for the record books.


Dorky Dad said...

PAMIDA? You went to Pamida? How???

I never get in these conversations. Maybe because I spend too much time swearing under my breath.

Brendan said...

I have to say that I actually enjoy such moments. Could be that I'm one of the short-bus types, too, but I like these random bits of human interaction, especially in the context of transacting business at a soul-sucking corporate behemoth. Makes me feel like we're both putting one over on The Man.

The alternatives are worse: zombie-like inattention, and the parroting of required prattle. I absolutely cannot abide stores who make their personnel use the Standard Greeting with each customer.

Brendan said...

P.S. I do agree with you that the level of humor understood by most cashiers is pretty low. Sucks being us, huh?

But since I know there's no way my jokes could ever fall flat ;^), I have come up with three factors besides dim-wittedness to explain what's at work here. The first is that working as a cashier and having to deal with people (and their jokes) all day long probably causes one to turn up the filters pretty high. The second is that deadpan humor is hard for strangers to detect in any case. The third is that cashiers have probably learned from experience that most times they feel like laughing at a customer, it is unlikely that this was the reaction desired by the customer.

Sornie said...

Pamida actually has some decent deals but the story is for another day.