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Lisa R.

Poll: s/o I described my grocery store interaction. Is this a typical experience in your part of the world?

Grocery Store Interaction Today  

243 members have voted

  1. 1. Clerk cheerfully greeted me. "Hi there! How's your day? Did you find everything you needed?"

    • Typical in my area. I'm fine with this greeting.
      205
    • Typical in my area. This is a bit too much.
      14
    • Not typical. I'm glad we don't have this type of interaction.
      11
    • Not typical. I'm fine with it and would sometimes appreciate this type of interaction.
      10
    • Other
      3
  2. 2. Clerk asks, "And how was your 4th of July?"

    • Typical question in my area. I'm fine with this question.
      156
    • Typical question in my area. I'd rather he didn't ask.
      28
    • Not typical. I'm glad I'm not usually asked things like this at store.
      39
    • Not typical. I wish we were asked questions like this sometimes.
      7
    • Other
      13
  3. 3. "Thanks for bringing your (reusable) bags. Hey, I've tried this dip. It's really good. I think you'll like it, too!"

    • Typical. I'm fine with this.
      132
    • Typical. I wish I could check out without this small talk.
      26
    • Not typical. I consider this too much small talk.
      47
    • Not typical. I wish we had small talk like this at store.
      16
    • Other
      22


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My answers are very personal to me and my experience, HOWEVER, I have a dd who works at a grocery store and she is a pretty talkative cashier.  She would say ANY of the above things, but only if she gauged that the customer was ok with small talk, kwim?  So I wonder if my "not typical" answers are because cashiers are able to tell that I'm not a chit-chat type of person.  If *I* ask a question or feel like chatting, though, usually a cashier will have a little conversation with me and it's not weird at all.

I live in northeast Ohio.  Most cashiers are polite and pleasant, not overly friendly or talkative unless YOU start chatting.

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Very typical. Western NY. This is what we experience, be it Walmart, Aldi, or the hardware store. Some times you can tell that the cashiers have been instructed to appear chatty, but there’s one lady at Aldi that’s a hoot. She hates avacados, and tells me every week( when I get them) just how gross they taste to her, etc. We even had the State Farm guy try to share some of his French fries with us. That was odd.

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None of it is too much for me and depending upon the store, may or may not happen here in the PNW. I love friendly people so it is a preference for me. 

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1. “Hello. Did you find everything you needed?” This, said in a polite-but-not-excited voice is more than enough. We don’t need to bring my entire day into this transaction. It’s not professional or efficient or any of your business.

2.  Again, not your business. What if my day sucked? Do we really want to discuss it while the line forms? Now I’ve got to lie yo keep things from getting too personal? 

3. Weirdly excited about dip. Why are you commenting on my grocery choices? PLEASE don’t have an opinion about the tampons that are next on the belt  

 

I get southern manners. I ‘can’ speak that language because it’s my first language. I also totally understand urban professionalism and efficiency. In some ways it’s more polite to not ask personal questions and to keep the line moving. 

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5 hours ago, Lisa R. said:

I just went to Trader Joe's today. I described my experience in the poll. Would this be typical in your area? If so, would it bother you or would you be ok with it? Note: While this happened at Trader Joe's, it could've easily happened at my local grocery store.

It seemed typical to me. In addition to this check out, I was looking for a particular item and stopped a worker. He told me they discontinued it, told me a similar product, and offered his opinion on both. His co-worker also chimed it with his opinion on these two items.

Upon leaving the store, 2-3 cars stopped to let me cross to reach my car even though I wasn't in a crosswalk.

None of this would have been noticeable to me had I not read the New England thread earlier today. I'm interested in your responses. If you're comfortable, please say the region you reside if you're in the US or the country if you're from outside of US.

I'm in Texas.

 

I'm in NJ.  Only the first one is typical where I shop.  The additional small talk would be unusual, and when it does happen I find it uncomfortable.  I'm concentrating on watching things ring up correctly, getting out my debit card or cash, paying, etc.   I'm not really interested in a conversation.

The cars stopping for you to cross WOULD be typical around here.  NJ has a law about stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks, even "unmarked crosswalks", and in a lot of the towns with downtown shopping areas, people regularly just walk out in front of cars without looking, crosswalk or not.  So IME, drivers stop for pedestrians wherever they are.

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One of our cashiers was just voted  as an influential member of our small city precisely  because people recognized how much he genuinely cares about them. Sure, most cashiers are just passing the time while doing a repetitive job. I don’t begrudge them that. It makes standing in line just a bit less boring for me too. They aren’t wasting time. Their hands are working as fast as they can. But I am smart enough to know those who are genuinely connecting with people and those who voted for Cashier Steve have proved that they can do that too. 

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Maybe I'm from too small a town, but this really, really depends on the cashier. And on circumstances. Sometimes it will depend on their mood. Sometimes it will depend on my mood. If it's the height of a busy day during tourist season, both cashiers and customers may not want to small talk. If it's a quiet day in the dead of winter when everyone is starting to feel cabin-feverish, there may be much more small talk. The older cashiers tend to be chattier than the new cashiers in their teens and twenties, trying to figure everything out. People tend to read body language - eye contact, whatever - and adjust accordingly.

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I'm from MN. It could be typical. It depends. I've had conversations like this, and I've had cashiers who didn't say a word. Though I do seem to get chattier cashiers more often than not, and then they tend to way overshare, lol. I joke to dh that I've got one of those faces that invites people to tell me everything that's going on in their lives. I've gone to the grocery store to buy one thing and by the time I leave, I know how many kids my cashier has, what school they go to, why her son doesn't like his teacher, how things are going in her marriage... I don't mind most of the time. I'm starting to think I missed my calling as a therapist.

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Australia

 

first one - I think all cashiers have to say hi how is your day. It is part of their job

Nobody would ask about 4th July as it is not celebrated here in Aus at all

 

as of this month shops don't have disposable single use bags.

 

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2 hours ago, KungFuPanda said:

1. “Hello. Did you find everything you needed?” This, said in a polite-but-not-excited voice is more than enough. We don’t need to bring my entire day into this transaction. It’s not professional or efficient or any of your business.

2.  Again, not your business. What if my day sucked? Do we really want to discuss it while the line forms? Now I’ve got to lie yo keep things from getting too personal? 

3. Weirdly excited about dip. Why are you commenting on my grocery choices? PLEASE don’t have an opinion about the tampons that are next on the belt  

 

I get southern manners. I ‘can’ speak that language because it’s my first language. I also totally understand urban professionalism and efficiency. In some ways it’s more polite to not ask personal questions and to keep the line moving. 

This.  Exactly.

I thrived when I lived in Boston.  There, they would often even cut out the "Good Morning" (who are they to tell me it is a good morning?!?!) and just cut to the chase by asking if I found everything I needed.  Then they would efficiently do their job and get me on my way.  I loved it.

When I visit my in-laws in South Carolina, I avoid public interactions as much as possible.  I once had to run into the store to get my MIL a couple things for dinner and, like, a dozen people (employees and other customers) wanted to talk to me about my purchases..."What are you making?"  I don't know, I'm just the designated shopper, not the cook.  "Looks like you are feeding an army!"  Oh, come on, I have two watermelons and almost nothing else...is hosting two watermelon's worth of people really that unusual?  "Oh, fun.  Is it someone's birthday?"  Yes, it is in fact many people's birthdays.  The fact that I am buying a birthday balloon is a good clue that I do in fact know one of those people.  "How do you get your kids to eat that?"  How do you even know that I have kids?  That can be a very touchy subject if you are wrong.  And how are the foods that my kids eat any of your business?  Really people!!!  I get interrupted often enough by my children!!  I just want to make my purchases and get the hell out of here!!!

Wendy

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Typical here. In fact, it would go more like this, "When's your dh's next scan? When does C go back to school? I see her at the rodeo grounds all the time! How's the hay crop?" Or, "Has B done that Ironman yet? Is S back down in Colombia? When does she finish her doctorate?" Or, "I just love when you come through my line--I like your old feedsack bags!"  Or, "Did H get her elk tag?" And of course, people will stop so you can cross!

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First one always happens.

Second one - it really depends on the cashier. Some are chatty and will find something to comment on - weather, holiday, children with me, etc. Some don't.

Third one - not common. Rarely, I will have a cashier who go beyond the surface level of comment two, but it's really rare.

I'm in Northern IL. 

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Actually, now that I'm reading all the responses, I realize I do find "did you find everything you needed?" annoying after all. Because at this point, when I'm ready to pay, I'm just going to say yes whether I did or not.  I'm not going to tell the cashier what I didn't find and have them hold up the line while someone goes looking for it.  If I can't find something I really want or need, I ask an employee before I get into line.  If they have it, great.  If they don't have it, it doesn't do any good to tell the cashier that. 

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6 hours ago, Mergath said:

I'm from MN. It could be typical. It depends. I've had conversations like this, and I've had cashiers who didn't say a word. Though I do seem to get chattier cashiers more often than not, and then they tend to way overshare, lol. I joke to dh that I've got one of those faces that invites people to tell me everything that's going on in their lives. I've gone to the grocery store to buy one thing and by the time I leave, I know how many kids my cashier has, what school they go to, why her son doesn't like his teacher, how things are going in her marriage... I don't mind most of the time. I'm starting to think I missed my calling as a therapist.

 

I think I've lost my RBF of my 30s or now I look like everyone's mom. For the last 10ish years, random strangers have been oversharing more and more frequently. In fact, last week, at Shopko buying shoes, I wandered over to the underwear section. Found a table with clearance and started perusing. There was an older lady there. I kind of gave the weak hello half-smile and said, "Good sale" or some such. She asked me how I was, and I said "Fine and you?" Well, 25 minutes later, I knew everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) that was happening in her life. Like you, when this happens, I figure I must look like a safe person, and they just need someone to listen. 

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I didn't really feel like a lot of the categories fit well.  But it's very common here for a cashier to ask if you've found everything - in certain store that's the training ad they ask it every time.  It's quite common for them to ask how you are as well.

It's less common for them to chat more than that, but some do, it depends on the person, how busy it is, that sort of things.  Older female cashiers often ask me about my kids or talk to them.  Teen cashiers seem least likely to chat.

I don't really mind either way, but sometimes it depends on my mood - if I'm tired I'm less likely to chat, or other times I really enjoy it.  I guess I donn't really think of those kinds of interactions mainly in terms of my preference though.  

ETA - I'm eastern Canada, our social norms are probably closest to some of the New England states.  I live in a city, fairly urban and provincial capitol.  I don't think this is mainly a small town thing, though of course when you actually know everyone around it plays out differently.

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2 hours ago, marbel said:

Actually, now that I'm reading all the responses, I realize I do find "did you find everything you needed?" annoying after all. Because at this point, when I'm ready to pay, I'm just going to say yes whether I did or not.  I'm not going to tell the cashier what I didn't find and have them hold up the line while someone goes looking for it.  If I can't find something I really want or need, I ask an employee before I get into line.  If they have it, great.  If they don't have it, it doesn't do any good to tell the cashier that. 

 

I feel the same way.  Unless it's something I really need and I wasn't able to find someone on the floor to ask and they don't have a courtesy desk to ask, by the time I get to the register I'm done, ready to check out and leave.

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Huh, and I'm also in Western WA in the greater Seattle suburbs, and I think it is too much small talk. I will say it is typical of Trader Joe's, but at Fred Meyer or other grocery stores I would think it is way too much small talk and potentially rude to take that much time to talk, especially when there is likely a line of at least 7 people to ring up. It's about productivity and mental space. I don't have a lot of physical space because there are so many people in my location, so I want to protect my mental privacy/space instead. We also have major time constraints with the amount of people here. We've boomed in population in the last couple of years and the grocery store can take a crazy amount of time just standing in line. I don't want it to be longer with small talk.

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Since I live in Alabama, any of these questions are well within the range of normal.  However, about a month ago, I had a cashier at Walmart ask me if my current baby was planned or not.  That seemed to cross a line to me, even for the South.  ??

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15 hours ago, NorthwestMom said:

I'm in Western Washington and this is typical of my neighborhood Safeway. ?

Our neighborhood Safeway is the worst ever if it wasn't 2 blocks away we would never go.  I don't think its typical of the chain.

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Also Texas, and that's very typical in my area, and I tend to notice more the ones who don't talk to me. 

I love living here. 

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I found myself annoyed the other day when the sort of director motioned me to another line. I'm sure the cashier is a perfectly nice person, but she speaks very little English, and I don't know her. I wanted to stay in the line I was in and visit with that cashier! I look forward to a few friendly sentences, but the new cashier doesn't do that. Oh well, maybe in a few months she'll feel more confident. I like the fellow who knows to read the amount for me because I have trouble reading the screen. And I like to see D's mom, and talk to the lady who went to high school with my dh, and chat with one of my Eagle Scouts (only he just got moved to meats), and have the bagger be the younger sister of one of dd's drama friends, etc. 

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14 minutes ago, Margaret in CO said:

I found myself annoyed the other day when the sort of director motioned me to another line. I'm sure the cashier is a perfectly nice person, but she speaks very little English, and I don't know her. I wanted to stay in the line I was in and visit with that cashier! I look forward to a few friendly sentences, but the new cashier doesn't do that. Oh well, maybe in a few months she'll feel more confident. I like the fellow who knows to read the amount for me because I have trouble reading the screen. And I like to see D's mom, and talk to the lady who went to high school with my dh, and chat with one of my Eagle Scouts (only he just got moved to meats), and have the bagger be the younger sister of one of dd's drama friends, etc. 

I’ve politely refused to move lanes before. I just say “No thanks. I was looking forward to talking to ____”.   No one has ever had a problem with that. 

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On 7/6/2018 at 3:38 PM, Jean in Newcastle said:

Typical.  And leaves room for a chatty response or a more quick.  "Yes, thank you.",  "Fine", "Thanks!" with a smile to keep it from seeming too abrupt if I just don't feel like chatting back. 

I feel like Trader Joe's is extra chatty.

I don't get this as much even at my neighborhood QFC.

They tend to respond to however much I put into it. We can have a rather involved conversation about seasonal produce or literally say nothing but "findeverythingok" "yep thanks" "haveagoodone" "you too".

If I have a problem though, they are very helpful and polite. And please, thank you, no thank you, excuse me, can I do anything more: everyone uses those words.

They don't wave you toward an aisle though. They use full sentences. "It is on 3 near the ketchup". Not walking me there, and not grunting a two-word answer either. I think it is a nice balance. They would probably help an old person though.

Edited to add: PNW

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I'm in Oklahoma.

1.  That happens at just about every store around here in some form or another.  Sometimes they just ask if you found everything ok. 

2.  Questions like these bug me.  Never, NEVER ask a question you may not want the answer to.  ?

3.  Depends on my mood.  LOL! 

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Typical everywhere I've ever lived. I've lived in almost every region of the US except Hawaii and Alaska. South, Deep South, Texas (3 different kinds of places lol), New England, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, Pacific Northwest, Coastal California.

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Depending on the day and the store, I might tell them that no, I couldn’t find such-and-such. If the line isn’t too busy at Aldi, I will tell them if I couldn’t find something because I want to confirm that it is indeed out and not just moved to a different location. 

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Western PA, and pretty typical here.  Some cashiers are more chatty than others, and sometimes I feel like chatting and sometimes I don't.  There was one cashier at our Aldi who I always looked forward to talking with because she was so upbeat and cheerful.  It made me want to be more like that.

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It's hard with the printed word to know exactly how the voting options would sound like irl, but overall I'd say they seem a lot more perky and chatty than I'm used to in Ontario, Canada. And we wouldn't ask about July 4th, obviously. Probably won't ask about July 1st, either.

Where I grew up, in western Canada, grocery store interactions could easily be this chatty. People are a little more reserved in Ontario, I find. We have a huge mix of people from all across Canada and the world here, and some cultures are definitely less chatty, while others are much more talkative. My neighbours from India are the chattiest and in-your-face in a nice way I've ever experienced in my life. They have a very special charm about the words they use in English, and they are much more used to getting to know their neighbours than most Canadians. My Chinese neighbours never speak to me and rarely smile, though they are excellent neighbours. They are quiet, keep their yard tidy, and are friendly if I go to their door with a specific question.

For 4 months of every year, during the winter, we never talk to our neighbours as we're mostly indoors trying to stay warm. Once we all emerge again in the spring, we talk and find out how the winter went. I discovered that my neighbour had a new baby. Couldn't tell she was even pregnant with the bulky winter coats! ?

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Very typical north Alabama. I shop in the morning when there are few shoppers, so we (customers and store employees) have been known to have group discussions on a variety of topics from movies, the best cat litter, and how we wish we could get more of that delicious Joy Bakery cinnamon bread. 

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On 7/6/2018 at 3:34 PM, rebcoola said:

I'm in Easter Washington I would say this is typical of most stores not Safeway.

 

 

PNW. Very typical of Trader Joe's, somewhat typical of QFC/Fred Meyer and Winco, and our local Safeway is like rebcoola's. I might get a hello. lol. 

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20 minutes ago, mellifera33 said:

 

PNW. Very typical of Trader Joe's, somewhat typical of QFC/Fred Meyer and Winco, and our local Safeway is like rebcoola's. I might get a hello. lol. 

What's funny is that my Safeway is super friendly but QFC is surly!  It probably depends on who they hire and probably their management as well. 

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Definitely not typical in Belgium. People wait patiently and quietly in line and would probably not appreciate a lot of chit chat. The process is generally I put my stuff on the belt while clerk waits patiently, the clerk rings up everything while I frantically try to load my bags (that I brought from home obviously), clerk waits patiently until I am done and says the amount owed and the word for please, I put my card in the machine, she says thank you and good bye. That's it. If I don't have bags they will wait while I put my things back into the cart without bags. Many people do it this way and then bag up inside their car or into boxes. I don't find it rude, but not having any help bagging is stressful and tiring even though no one acts impatient. Occasionally someone might say a few words to the clerk if they know them personally, but it's quick.

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In NJ, typical responses in Trader Joe's. Higher end grocery stores would be similar, not as chatty. Regular grocery stores not typical at all.

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Typical for me. I am from the Deep South and currently live in rural VA. Half the time, though, I am the one starting the conversation. I am the person who will stick my stuff in my car and then go help an older person I have never seen before (only if they have a dog sticker ?). My daughter hates, HATES, going anywhere with me after a veteran with the cart ahead of us asked me if I had ever eaten cat and he and I had a two cart register conversation on how you would cook that thing if you were really hungry.

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In Northern England and in general it is not typical when you leave the shops in my small village, but we tend to get chatted at constantly because we speak midwestern American.   On vacation?  Where are you really from?  I know where you are from because I know American accents,  their record stays perfect because I always agree they got it right.  Sometimes I am Canadian or Australian.  Lol Canadian makes sense because I grew up close to the border but Australia ? Normal really chatty is weather talk.

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It's typical for some people, not all, to talk like that here.  It does not bother me; I think it's nice (as long as they eventually know when to zip it).  (Those checkers who aren't talkers would try to smile and remain relatively quiet, which I would not take as rudeness.)  Not so much "here, try my dip," except when they are handing out free samples.

A Trader Joe's or similar would be a bit more ... folksy than an average grocery store.  But mostly it depends on the individual employee.

Giving way in a parking lot is very normal.  If anything people are so courteous that we often end up delaying each other by saying "you go ahead" until someone goes.  It makes sense, as you never know when a little kid is going to escape his parent or an elderly person needs more time to get across.

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Typical in my area (I’m in Louisiana), but I have to say, it was NOT typical when I was in WA state. There was some of that when I would go to TJs, but nothing like that in other stores, and in some of the businesses, people were what I would consider downright rude, making it seem like you were bothering them as opposed to wanting to help you.

Around here you might know someone’s life story by the time you’re finished checking out a cart full of groceries. ?

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