Taunts & Tears: In Which I Wonder About Humanity Whilst Shopping

“Do you want $13.47?”

That’s the first thing she said to me.

I told her “no” and explained that I had money.

I was in Best Buy in an upscale part of town and after a long wait in line I’d finally made it to the cashier, a pleasant efficient girl, a bit on the plain Jane side, probably college age– totally confused about what to do next.

“But what do I do with it?” 

She was holding the change from the transaction that had just taken place in front of me when two Kardashian-esque high school kids had purchased some candy with a twenty-dollar bill– and refused to take their change.

“I tried to give them the $13.47 back, but they wouldn’t take it.  They told me to keep the change.  But it’s theirs, not mine.”

I’d been watching and listening to these kids directly in front of me while standing in line.  I knew them for what they were.  Troublemakers.  Snotty rich kids wasting Daddy’s money.  Pointing at the cashier, snickering about her looks.

“But what do I do with the money? It’s not mine.”

As if on cue, we heard a car engine outside the front window of the store and turned to see the two high school kids in a convertible Mercedes, top down, driving by the window laughing and waving at us.

With that my cashier began to cry.  Somehow being mocked by these two had really gotten to her.

So there I stood, waiting for the tears to stop and for her to look at me.  When she did, still sniffling, I answered her question about what she should do.  I said:

You’re ok.  You did everything right.  This is not your fault, no one is going to blame you.  After your shift when you turn in your till tonight you explain that there’s $13.47 too much in there because some rich idiotic spoiled kids wouldn’t take their change.  You’re ok.  This is not your fault, no one is going to blame you.

And you know what?  My words calmed her down so that she stopped sniffling, rang up my sale– and was back to her cheerful self quietly saying her newfound mantra.

“I’m ok.  This is not my fault.  No one’s going to blame me.”

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Ally Bean

Observant. Creative. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Midwestern by chance. Kindhearted most days.

77 thoughts on “Taunts & Tears: In Which I Wonder About Humanity Whilst Shopping”

  1. I don’t like bullies, especially entitled, spoiled, nose-up-in-the-air kids. Can I say, someday I hope that they have the privilege to experience the feelings they bestowed onto that young woman…

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  2. As long as people allow bullies to get away with how they treat others, it will continue. I stood up to my bullies from high school, felt good at first, but then felt sorry for them. Their lives turned to crap because they never learned the value of respect because in adulthood, they got treated the way they treated others, and most adults don’t waste their time. Those girls will get what’s coming to them eventually, it’s only a matter of time.

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    1. Andrew, you said it. I suspect that these two high school kids get away with what they do because no one is forcing them to behave better. Obviously they were intent on causing trouble for the poor cashier, but I can only hope that the high school kids get their comeuppance sometime soon. However, experience has taught me that rich kids like these two often never learn respect.

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    1. bobcabking, what a sweet thing to say! I felt sorry for the poor cashier. She was doing a great job– and then to have this kind of attitude tossed in her face… all because her looks and job didn’t rate with the rich kids. *meh*

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  3. I had to sit here a minute and pause to reflect on that.

    Initially I thought it was weird, odd, suspect. Then I decided it’s just plain mean. :/

    I’m glad you were there to reason with her. I’m sure from her perspective it felt even weirder and meaner.

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    1. joey, I think the high school kids were mean, having never been taken down a peg in their own lives. They were making fun of the cashier because she was different/plain/hardworking. As an adult I’d shrug it off, but this cashier took it much too personally. Such a stupid thing to have happen…

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  4. You did such a beautiful job of comforting that young lady. I don’t remember this type of behavior when I was a kid, even the mean girls weren’t that malicious. I feel like this kind of behavior comes straight from the current social climate, where fools are famous for being famous with no redeeming qualities, flaunting daddy’s money and generally being put on some kind of bizarre pedestal. The entitlement of the little rich kids was bad enough and now they’re being held up as someone to “keep up with.”

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    1. Zazzy, you said it: “fools are famous for being famous with no redeeming qualities, flaunting daddy’s money and generally being put on some kind of bizarre pedestal.” That’s exactly how I’d interpret what was going on in front of me. I felt sorry for the cashier, of course, but the fact that this happened at all is disturbing. Rich kids, without proper adult guidance, often know no limits– ’cause there are none.

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  5. So glad you were there. She was lucky to be able to experience it with someone sane (yes, that would be you). Maybe next time it will be easier. As for the money, I would have kept it or donated it to an animal shelter. Make something good come out of it all. As for those 2, when their future high faluting rich husbands get girlfriends (after the first face wrinkle) they will start to feel stuff.

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    1. Kate, I’m glad that I was there, too. The cashier was doing her job, perfectly– and it was busy in the store, so she really didn’t need any mean girl crap in her face. When I left her she seemed to be back on an even keel, so perhaps she’ll learn how to deal with such fools.

      And I adore your assessment of when the high schoolers will learn a thing or two! You’re onto a good karmic idea there. 😉

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    1. Dana, I hope that you never find yourself in a situation like this because the whole thing was unnecessary and stupid. HOWEVER, considering how my self-entitled rich kids are running around in the world, be prepared. As an adult. To help those they hurt.

      Honestly… { shakes head and wanders off }

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  6. Things like this are why I am *always* pleasant and friendly to cashiers and wait staff. I worked in retail customer service for years, and people can be sickening! Thank you for sharing some comfort with that girl.

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    1. Lowcountry Hippie, I worked as a waitress and in retail so I have a good sense of how awful people can be. This cashier was doing her job efficiently so she didn’t deserve this treatment. Poor kid.

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  7. “Pointing at the cashier, snickering about her looks.”
    That’s an important detail. I remember for a while there was a “pass it forward” fad. Someone would stop at a drive in and pay for their meal and then say, “I’ll pay for the person behind me.” When the next person pulled up, the server would say, “It’s Paid. The person ahead of you paid for your meal.” Sometimes that person would pay for the next one. I forget how that went exactly. At first I thought it was going be a story like that or a big tip story. Or I thought they were going to pay for you… You built the suspense well. I see the problem in both cases: the clerk can’t be seen putting money in her pocket, but if it’s in the register balancing out something then it works out. A waitress getting a huge tip is an easier situation.
        This idea of intention is a difficult one.

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    1. naztko, now that you mention it I remember that pay it forward idea. It was a good one, which sadly didn’t happen in this case. You’re right about how this cashier couldn’t just pocket the $13.47. That would never do! The whole situation, from beginning to end, was mean and unnecessary– but sometimes life is like that, so I did what I could to help the cashier keep going.

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  8. Sigh. This reminds me of the quote in Harper Lee’s book To Kill a Mockingbird when one character tells another that, in a few years, one character will become so hardened that he will no longer “cry about the simple hell people give other people–without even thinking.”

    It’s the lack of Empathy that stuns me in some people. As you know, I have a similarly themed post up at my own blog, and it’s sad that you and I can both write about these encounters with what one of my Commenters so aptly called Casual Hate.

    I’m glad you were there to bring the cashier some comfort and clarity. If only she could have either Paid It Forward by placing the extra next to her register, or pocketed it much later, as her shift ended. She deserved to get herself something nice for her pains.

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    1. nance, your quote is appropriate to this situation. The high school kids had no empathy and weren’t thinking about the cashier’s feelings, that’s for certain. “Casual hate” explains it and it’s everywhere– as if that makes it ok.

      I think the cashier was trying to pay it forward by trying to give me the money, but by turning the money in with an explanation of what happened, she’ll alert the store management to any future problems that may happen because of kids like these. I suspect they’ll be back…

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    1. John, the whole interaction was so unkind and uncalled for, but you know rich kids. I’m glad that I was there to smooth things over for the cashier.

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  9. Wow–I’m wondering how much money they can casually throw around. Right now I’d be eyeing that $13 and change–I need to fill up my gas tank and won’t get my paycheck for another week. And that’s nearly enough to fill it today. Sheesh, I picked up pennies off the sidewalk even when I had a job in high school because you never know (and I’m broke enough that I still do sometimes). I wonder if the real world’s gonna smack ’em upside the head at some point–maybe the next big recession when they’re broke because they never learned how to handle what they’ve got because they never had to get it for themselves.

    I think you did well–it sucks when service people get shafted by customers just because they’re “serving.” I’m always making an effort to make cashiers and wait staff not have such a hard time (and when my fave diner was also a training location, I’d sometimes tell ’em I’d be okay being that new server’s first customer. I did it because I knew they might make mistakes, but I wouldn’t blow up at ’em and could even help them out. It just felt right.)

    Hugs to you for doing that for her. She needed it, it seems. Sounds like she was new to the job and hadn’t learned much about the nasties yet. At least you were right after!

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    1. TheChattyIntrovert, I know! I was thinking about how I could eat out at Panera for lunch with that kind of extra money. But throw it away? Only spoiled kids do that sort of thing.

      I hope these richie rich high school kids grow up, but in my experience they often never need to because their fathers will keep giving them money, no matter what they do with it.

      I love your idea of telling a restaurant that you’ll be someone’s first table. That’s true kindness, says a woman who waited tables in college. Mean, nasty people eat in restaurants, I can tell ‘ya! Hugs right back to you for doing that.

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  10. Ally, I am so glad you took the time to address what this girl was feeling. To not do so just reaffirms the ridiculous behaviour of the mean girls who somehow felt justified in making this girl feel less than. Hats off to you for your kindness! You made a difference to this young woman & we can all learn a little something from your willingness to speak up.

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    1. Lynn, I wish my behavior was 100% altruistic, but the reality was if I was ever going to get to buy my item, I needed a cashier to ring it up! And this poor crying girl was my only hope. 🙂

      That being said, I felt sorry for her because she was taken aback by what had happened– and needed a little support and guidance about how to frame the story. Poor kid. Oh to be that young and confused again…

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  11. What a wonderful person you are! At first I was thinking about the pay it forward as well, but when you said they were talking about her, I knew that couldn’t be right. I try to be as nice to store clerks as I can since my kids have all worked in retail at some time or another and I want them to be treated nicely back. (My youngest is a Starbucks shift supervisor and she has some stories about people and their coffee!). Glad you were able to put the girl back on track!

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    1. Janet, well, thank you. I imagine you would have done the same thing in a similar situation. I wouldn’t have said a word, if the cashier was goofing off, but she was working and needed some reassurance. So much rudeness everywhere, gotta push back somehow.

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    1. Maggie, I know! This was one of those weird experiences that unfolded in front of me and made me question what to do. I knew I couldn’t stop the rich kids from mocking, but I could help the mockee regain her equilibrium. But what got me thinking was the question: did this really even have to happen? *sigh*

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  12. Great that you were there for the lass in her hour of need Ally Bean and she realized she had done no wrong and was comforted. Poor thing – and poor in another way entirely the behavior of those silly girls –

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    1. Susan, I could see that the rich kids had the cashier in their sights, but I didn’t expect the cashier to break down into tears. I felt sorry for her, figuring that she might not have been in the workforce long enough to know how to shrug off such bad behavior. What a scene!

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  13. As much as the attitude of entitlement disgusts me, having blatant disregard for another human being’s feelings is downright appalling.

    I’m glad you were there to bring comfort to a decent human being who was only trying to do the right thing. She didn’t deserve to be treated so poorly, and having someone (you!) offer comfort through confirmation helps to restore our faith in humanity.

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    1. Quirky Girl, it was an odd thing to have happen, but I doubt that it’s unusual when you work in retail. Some people always think they’re better than everyone else, and standing in line brought it out in these high school kids. When I left the cashier was back to her productive self, so I hope the rest of her shift went smoothly.

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  14. Wowza, I can’t get over the gall of those terrible girls. I blame, of course, parenting, or lack thereof. Somehow, at some point, along the way of their upbringing, no one taught them the importance of being kind. And how easy it is! To be kind to someone else! It takes less effort to be kind than to be rude, mean, disrespectful, antagonistic. The only way they’ll learn the difference, at this point, is if someone turns the tables on them, unfortunately. Is it kind of me to hope something like that happens? Yes, because once they learn the difference the hard way, there’s a chance that they’ll be better people.

    I’m glad you were there to help the cashier through that mess!

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    1. Kate, I agree that the parents of these high school kids have some explaining to do, not to mention someone needs to teach the kids about personal finance. I don’t know if it was standing in a long line that irritated the high school kids OR if they always behave in a rich & entitled way, but they were not kind to this cashier.

      Like you said until the tables are turned on them, the rich high school kids aren’t going to understand how their behavior impacts other people. When I was younger I was around kids like this, and have to admit that even when unkindness came at them, they learned little because Daddy’s money was there to make them feel better.

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  15. On one hand, it’s hard to imagine that anyone could be so purposefully mean… but, then again, it’s completely imaginable as we witness instances of cruelty almost every day (if not in person, certainly in the news). I hope those girls are lucky enough to one day realize that they can make different choices about they way they treat others. In the meantime, thank goodness for you – and people like you – who are there to help pick up the pieces that ugliness leaves in its wake.

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    1. Janis, you said it: “I hope those girls are lucky enough to one day realize that they can make different choices about they way they treat others.” I hope so, too.

      I didn’t mind waiting for the cashier to get it together after the tears, but can’t help wondering why this even needed to happen. Ugliness, is right. Poor kid.

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  16. That is so weird.
    Why some delight in making others miserable is so baffling
    Thank goodness you were there.
    In 10 years, it’s pretty obvious which girl(s) will be a positive force and someone you’d want to be around. One will remember kindness and turn that way.

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    1. philmouse, I don’t get why making someone else suffer is fun, either. It was weird but like you said, in 10 years the cashier will be a positive part of society– and the high school kids will be so ONLY if someone is able to teach them how and why to behave better.

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      1. Yep. It’s not the bullying action that’s the problem. That’s a result of something in that kid’s life /personality that was caused by someone/something – an a course correction desperately needed – although it may be too late. Sad all the way around.
        I’m pretty well convinced people are pretty set by age 4-5 and don’t change much after that – just get taller.

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        1. You may be onto something with your idea that we are who we are by age 5. The older I get the more I see of my early self in myself. Fortunately I was not allowed to be a bully or waste money. My course was corrected frequently! 😉

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  17. Maybe to let the young cashier know that you wrote about this incident and how many of us are appalled and saddened? Let her have your blog address? Call the store maybe if you aren’t going back there anytime soon? Just a thought …

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    1. Susan, I thought about talking with the manager when this happened, but decided that this cashier needed to take matters into her own hands. Considering where the store is located, this won’t be the only time she deals with snotty rich kids/people, so she’s going to need to toughen up her attitude to survive. Should I see her again I will let her know what I wrote about here.

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  18. One of the not so pretty parts of the American dream of becoming wealthy and successful is the fact that these people who worked their way up the ladder ultimately end up having kids who, often despite the best intentions of the parents, will never, ever want for anything nor ever learn the lessons of humility the rest of us pick up via the school of hard knocks. I believe they call it “affluenza” now. I’m not sure there’s a cure for it, unfortunately…. short of Daddy suddenly going broke and cutting off the pipeline. Alas, it isn’t always as easy to stick it to the unempathetic rich brats as Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy made it look. If these mean girls can blow $13.47 just to make someone else’s day a little more awful, they’re probably still going to be just as nasty when they’re in their 40’s and looking like horrific wax dummy bimbos…

    I’m not sure what Best Buy’s policy is on gratuities…. but at Mecca, we are absolutely not allowed to accept them. I wonder if that played into the frantic reaction of the cashier not knowing what to do with the refused change…

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    1. evilsquirrel13, I’d forgotten about the term “affluenza” but it describes what was going on with the richie rich high school kids. I suspect that you’re right about the no gratuities policy at Best Buy, so the cashier who was honest to a fault knew she could get in trouble. Hence, the “what do I do?” question to me.

      I completely agree with your assessment that: it isn’t always as easy to stick it to the unempathetic rich brats as Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy made it look. Personal experience has shown me that they are often immune to learning about kindness [it’s for suckers] and sharing [it’s all mine, all the time]– because experience has not forced them to ever do so. And society tells them that they’re great, just for being rich without working for it.

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  19. As many times as I, too, Wonder About Humanity Whilst Shopping (or whilst anything-else-ing), someone / something comes along to un-wonder me. Or at least to un-convince-me-that-we-are-all-on-a-deservedly-short-ride-to-hell.

    Congrats! Today that something happens to be you, and all the commenters understanding of and concerned for your young cashier.

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    1. Alice, that’s a great point of view you express here. I agree. I, too, encounter many good people along the way who help lighten my load. I try to focus on them, but once in a while something odd like this happens and I gotta talk about the, shall we say?, less than productive elements in society.

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    1. Donna, thank you. Wish that this had never happened, but as they say: “if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” And considering that it did happen maybe we can all learn from it.

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  20. Gah, this makes me feel sick and sad. 😦 You handled it so well though. I would be so furious that I would probably start crying too. It’s difficult to like people sometimes.

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    1. Margaret, yes, I had that people suck feeling as this was happening. But richie rich kids often do what they want with impunity, and the rest of us smooth over the messes they make. Same as it ever was…

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  21. I for one am grateful to you for knowing the perfect way to get this poor child back on track and probably save her job. I doubt that she will ever forget you. “The kindness of strangers”

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    1. Patricia, I’d forgotten about that saying. I felt for that cashier, considering she was doing a good job at her job. Glad that I could help her, but sorry that I had to. What a situation.

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