The Struggles I Experience As A Female Cashier
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The Struggles I Experience As A Female Cashier

The Struggles I Experience As A Female Cashier

We all know that working minimum wage jobs and dealing in customer service is a hard, terribly under-appreciated, - and at most points - horrible job. However, the struggle of being a cashier is a whole lot different for females. Male cashiers will never truly understand the amount of harassment that their female coworkers are victims to daily – only fellow female cashiers and retail workers seem to get it.

Male customers always seem to give you the “hey”

You know exactly what “hey” I’m talking about. The one where the male customer is just walking into the store and past your register, or is standing in line at the register next to you, and then they stop lean towards you, slightly nod, and raise their eyebrows, and then proudly say: “hey." Sometimes, if you’re just oh-so-lucky they’ll even lick or bite their lips. This maneuver does not leave you with many options because this is your job and you’re supposed to be customer friendly. You can either mutter “hey” back at them or avert your eye contact and hope they keep moving.

Male customers always wink at me

There seems to be no method to this madness. They can wink as they’re approaching me, as they’re walking away, or even in the middle of the conversation. I have no idea what their intentions are with this gesture, what they’re trying to achieve or what their end game is. Nor do I know how I’m supposed to respond to such an action. What I do know is that it’s uncomfortable, and not at all an innocently friendly behavior.

Shirts with writing on the chest or name tags are just cruel

Seriously. Every single female understands the struggles of wearing them and the actions they bring forth. If I had a dollar for every time a male customer used my name tag, or the writing on my shirt, as an excuse to stare at my chest I’d make more than my measly paycheck gives me. And don’t even get me started about how after they’re done with their ogling, they’ll make – what they think is – a witty response about my name or the shirt. It’s like they’re basically admitting they’re staring at your chest, and they know there’s nothing you can do about it. It makes me cringe every. single. time.

Male customers are always trying to show off their money

I don’t understand the logic behind this maneuver at all. But there have been dozens of times where these customers “casually” pull out all the hundred dollar bills in their wallet to pay for their $10 purchase. I’ve even had a customer wave a $5,000 dollar check in my FACE, explaining that he can’t find anywhere to cash the check – like dude have you tried a bank? Once a customer pulled out a huge wad of cash and proceeded to stand in front of me for 10 minutes counting it, no matter how many times I politely suggested that he should leave. I have to withstand the urge to roll my eyes every time it happens. Like do they think I need their money, like some kind of jiggalo? I’m standing here at work, which obviously means I’m making money,

People are always calling me pet names

Am I the only one that doesn’t walk around calling strangers endearing intimate names all the time? Because some days it really feels like it. I’ve been called everything you can think of: darling, sweetie, sweetheart, sugar, baby, mami, mama, baby girl, etc. Half of which I don’t even use with my friends. These are terms I’m used to hearing expressed in intimate relations, not with some random stranger I’ve never met before. I don’t know if they’re trying to forge some sort of intimacy and power over me, or if they’re just trying to be friendly. Either way, it’s usually a little awkward and uncomfortable.

Fetishizing comments are directed at me often

It seems like male customers are always making sexually harassing comments directed at a female cashiers appearance and/or culture. I never know how to react when someone makes a comment about how “they like red heads because their ass always matches their sass” or how “they like beautiful curvy white girls like me”. Sexually harassing comments are uncomfortable in general, but when they contain fetishism as well, it’s a new level of discomfort. It’s like if I deny or reject the comment, I disagree or don’t think those parts of myself are attractive. But agreeing would be encouraging their harassment. It just puts me in between a rock and a hard place.

Some customers feel the need to tell me all the things they’d like to do to me

I don’t know why customers think they have the right to say derogatory comments towards me, and yet they always do. Some customers even have the audacity to tell me what sort of actions they’d like to participate in with me. Sometimes they’re not all that terrible, like cooking me dinner or taking me out, but some of them are just downright sexual, violent, and uncomfortable, to the point that I feel ashamed – when I wasn’t even the one who suggested the lucrative comment. I’ll never understand how they have the balls to utter such comments in public to a stranger, but they do. I don’t understand what they think they’re going to achieve because it’s not like any woman would agree to these propositions – could you imagine how they’d react if I did?

Occasionally male customers will demand to know my personal information

This is probably one of the most uncomfortable situations. Customers will ask me what my work schedule is, what my name is, where I go to school, where I live, what my phone number is. Usually, these types of customers are persistent as well, which makes it even more difficult. Obviously, I don’t want to tell me any of this information, and I don’t, but it can be quite hard to navigate around the situation, tell them believable lies, and convince them to leave me alone.

Sometimes male customers will even threaten me

These don’t happen as often as the rest, but the fact that it ever occurs at all is shameful. They’ll threaten to wait outside for me after work, to take me home with them, and “jokingly” state they’re going to follow me home. These sort of comments are terrifying because then you’re left wondering if they’ll follow through with it. Most of the time they don’t, but what if one day they do? I know most men reading this will be like, “why don’t you tell your manager or the police?” Because most managers or police officers won’t take it seriously, and it usually turns out to be more trouble than it’s worth. Plus if I reported every customer that sexually harassed me, I’d end up reporting like 1 out of 3 male customers.

Customers will attempt to purposely be in my line

I see it all the time. Customers will lurk and suddenly forget an item – that they never come back with – and “suddenly” end up in my line. Or, they’ll act like they’re doing a nice gesture by allowing the person behind them to go in front of them to the other cashier, leaving my line open and available to them. Most of the time, these customers turn out to be harmless and don’t actually do anything once they approach my register. But other times they can be super creepy, harassing, and quite stalker-like. There’s not much you can do unless you oh-so-casually walk away from your register to do some work errand, as they approach you. But when you’re store is super busy that’s not always a possibility.

They make fun of my voice

That sounds weird, right? But something that happens to me regularly. It’s my job to be super friendly and personable to customers, which usually entails talking in an upbeat positive voice. However, male customers continuously mock my voice and then laugh at me. Or make a comment about how chipper I’m being, or a crude comment about how my “sweet voice” is just for them and their attention. Whenever this happens, it makes me not even want to utter another word in fear that their mocking will continue. But I also don’t want to stay silent and give them that power over me. It leaves me at a draw. Usually, I bite back a sarcastic comment and mumble the rest of my words.

Customers never fail to tell me I’m too young for my job

I have never once heard this sort of comment told to one of my male coworkers, not even to the ones that clearly looked younger than me. And yet male and female customers alike (although typically their older adults) question me on my age. This is such an insult because they’re basically inadvertently questioning my capabilities at doing my job, and there’s not much of a response you can give them. Yes, you can argue that you are in fact old enough but it never gets you anywhere because they’ll just keep arguing it with you, and what’s to be accomplished with that conversation? With these types of comments, I can’t help but give sarcastic comments like, “they wouldn’t have hired me if I wasn’t old enough,” because it’s usually the only way to get them to shut up and move on. But obviously not the most appropriate response.

Customers attempt to make me uncomfortable when I don’t enjoy their comments

Like I’ve said before, I can’t be rude to customers because it’s my job to provide good customer service, even to the more difficult clients. But it doesn’t mean I just take their comments lying down. Instead, I have to respond in other manners that aren’t quite so vocal – like walking away, ignoring them, or glaring at them. Obviously, these customers are not too happy with my reactions, or lack thereof. They usually then try to make me feel ashamed of the discomfort I’m feeling. I may understand that I have every right to not acknowledge their comments or accept their offers and that I have nothing to feel ashamed of. But it doesn’t mean that this shame and discomfort doesn’t get to me sometimes. However, I always try to stand my ground and refuse to respond warmly or positively to these customers - presently or the next time they come in.

Customers will also call me slurs when I don’t accept their compliments

They act as if I owe it to them to accept, acknowledge, and positively receive their comments and gestures towards me. Like they have the right to talk to and treat me this way. When I refuse to respond in a manner that they deem acceptable, they then sometimes decide to retaliate by calling me some sort of slur that is degrading to females, usually with the word “b*tch” somewhere in there.

Customers become offended when I question them

I know the phrase “customers are always right” exists, but in reality, it’s more like “management is always right”. Meaning I can’t just do and trust whatever a customer says. When working at a liquor store and I card a young man and dare I try to card his friends with them, they go berserk. They act so offended that I don’t trust that they’re 21+, and refuse to acknowledge that it’s not personal and I’m just doing my job. And god forbid I question them when they say their product rang up wrong, and ask for proof of the price they’re telling me about. They act like I’m questioning and attacking their masculinity - but then again there’s not much that’s more fragile than the male ego.

Male customers consistently beg me to bend the rules for them

Say they forgot their ID at home, or they don’t have enough change to fully pay for their item. It usually follows with them trying to sweet talk me out of following the rules of my job, and sometimes entails compliments and explicit sexual remarks. It’s like they’re trying to invoke power over me and submit me to following their requests. Don’t worry it never works, unless I actually feel like they’re being honest, nice human beings, that aren’t oppressing or sexualizing me.

When I don’t bend the rules for them, they become angry

This is when their rage comes out in full form. They’ll start degrading me and cussing me out. Sometimes even throwing things or getting other customers involved. Because god forbid I do my job and don’t let the whole world revolve around and benefit them – but male privilege isn’t a thing, right?

Customers treat me like I’m dumb

Both male and female customers alike treat me like I have no idea what I’m doing or what I’m talking about. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been trained for this job and working there, I still know nothing. I can tell them something until I’m blue in the face and they’d still never trust me. At least not until I call over my manager, who then repeats the same exact thing I’ve been telling them. Sure, I’ve seen customers argue with my male coworkers too, but it’s not nearly as often as I experience. Because I’m a female, and therefore can’t be right.

I am not taken seriously

It is extremely rare that I am ever taken seriously while working, never mind treated like a real human being. This feeling and experience can be pretty exhausting at times and can make me feel ashamed and degraded. But then I remember that many women experience what I do every day and continue to work hard to be successful in a world where we’re not viewed or treated as equals. I realize I’m not alone in this experience. Which yes, is terrible because so many people should not be experiencing this on a regular basis. But there’s power in solidarity, ya know. Whatever gets you through the hard times, gets you through them.

These behaviors that I have listed are not rare unsettling occurrences that I’ve experienced. This is what I experience regularly, if not daily. These are experiences that so many women I know experience every day. And yes, we do talk about how creepy you were with our co-workers and friends. Yes, we’ll walk away and hide in the cooler or break room until you’re gone and we can feel safe again. We try and warn each other, and others, to keep a look out on customers who act like this, so they can be warned and better protected.

You might think you’re being friendly, or making our day. You’re not. We are not here for you, to ask for your compliments and “generous” gestures. We are here to work, to make money, to pay our bills. It is our job to comply, to smile, to be polite. We are not here to please you. Never mistake that friendliness as being personally directed at you. Don’t hit on a woman when she’s working, and unable to walk away, dismiss you, or decline your offers. Don’t respond with slurs, or sexually crude statements. That’s called harassment. And we’ve experienced enough of it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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