Back Of The Line, Back Of Their Thoughts

, , , | Right | January 10, 2020

(I live in New Mexico and a lot of people here only speak Spanish. I, unfortunately, speak almost no Spanish, though I know I should learn more. A busy period has just hit and the lines on all the registers have quickly grown. I have greeted the next customers in line, who smiled and said something in Spanish. I finish up the purchase without the pressure of having to make small talk and give the total, gesturing towards the screen that gives the total to indicate that I’m done. The two customers together that were next in line just stand there not moving. I have repeated the total a couple of times, hoping to get things moving, but at this point, we’re all just standing around waiting for the order to be paid for.)

Manager: *who sees that my line has stalled* “What’s up, [My Name]?”

Me: “I don’t know. I’m waiting for them to pay, but I don’t speak Spanish, so I’m not sure what the holdup is.”

Manager: “Ah, okay, let me go grab someone who speaks Spanish.”

Coworker: *converses with customers in Spanish* “They say that’s not their order.”

Me: “Oh! It was the next one on the belt! I don’t know whose it is, then.”

(My manager, my coworker, and I start looking down the line. A customer in the back of the line notices the holdup and confusion, and then sees the large mirror waiting in the bagging area.)

Back Of The Line Customer: “Oh, are you all waiting on me? That’s my stuff!”

(My manager and coworker leave, and I’m a bit flummoxed about what just happened.)

Me: “Sorry about that. Your total is [total].”

Back Of The Line Customer: “I thought you’d just put my stuff off to the side! I went to get my mother.”

Me: *internally* “I see hundreds of people a day and there are half a dozen people in this line right now. You couldn’t have said anything?! You couldn’t have told me you needed to come back and to set your stuff aside? I glanced back to see how big my line is; I don’t have your face or purchase memorized. What, did you tell the customers behind you who clearly didn’t understand a word you were saying nor could communicate it to me?! Were you just standing back there waiting in this unmoving line for five minutes as I waited for this poor couple to pay for your stuff that I didn’t know wasn’t theirs? What?! Who does that when they’re next in line?”

Me: *out loud* “Haha, nope. Well, have a nice day!”

(I was pretty embarrassed about not catching that it wasn’t their order even though they were standing next to it and waiting at the pay screen instead of by their order on the belt, but luckily none of the customers in line commented on it to me!)

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