Is Being a Cashier Hard?
So you need a job and all you can find are cashier jobs right? Or maybe it's your first time ever looking for a job and the only companies willing to hire you are restaurants or retail businesses and they're hiring cashiers.
Being a cashier can be easy or hard, depending on who you work for, where you work, how much business the company gets, and what exactly you're selling. I've worked plenty of these types of positions over the years, in my teens, 20's and even 30's.
I've worked the register for all different types of retail, food service, and clothing companies. Some of the companies I've worked for include Burger King, Subway, TJ Maxx, Wendy's, Walmart, Arby's, and a local movie theater and deli that you probably never heard of. Some of these jobs were really hell, but some of them weren't so bad.
The fast food ones were easily the worst, while the smaller companies with less customers weren't so bad. Everybody has their own opinion and some people may actually like being cashiers. But from what I've seen, most people don't and find it to be very stressful. The stress is what makes it hard for most people, but other things can make it difficult as well.
With that being said, some of the hardest things I've encountered while working as a cashier are as follows, if you really want to know what to expect.
Learning the Register
Learning the cash register can either be simple or complicated, depending on where you work, what type of items they have on the menu, and what kind of cash register they have.
Some registers, like those used in large fast food chain restaurants, have all the menu items labeled on the register keys. That way, you can just look for the "Big Mac" key on the register and hit it once to ring it up. This can take a few weeks of learning because some keys may not be as obvious, while others require a combination.
For example, ringing up a large Coca-Cola fountain drink at Wendy's may require you to first hit the "Coke" key, then to tell the register it's a large you might have to hit the large or upgrade key after that. In department stores and grocery stores, the registers can be even simpler sometimes because all you'll have to do when it comes to keying is simply scan the items and the price will show up on the screen.
From there, you may only have to enter in how much money the customer gives you or if there's a customer who's buying a lot of items in bulk, you might have to enter in how many rather than scanning each one (to save time).
You'll also have to learn how to process credit card payments at places where they're accepted, and what types of procedures you should take when you have a customer who wants a refund.
So learning how to use a register can take a few days and sometimes even a few weeks before you'll be comfortable working it alone.
If you're not a people person, then you should probably look for a different type of job. In order to enjoy your job as a cashier and make it easier, you need to enjoy working around people and talking to customers.
Cashiers are expected to be friendly but quick, so you'll have to scan or ring up items quickly while also maintaining conversation or at least a smile and a few "hello how are you" type greetings.
One of the most stressful things about working on a register is that you're constantly dealing with other people, and let's face it, there's always going to be some bad apples in any crowd. Even if you're as polite as can be and do your job well, you'll still have customers at least once a day who will give you a hard time or treat you bad.
As an example, I was once working in the backroom at TJ Maxx when the lines at the registers upfront became too long and they needed help up there. So my manager placed me on the register, and I immediately had a man at the back of the line who was yelling at me because of how long the line was.
Even though I had only been brought up to the register less than a minute ago, I was being blamed for the long lines.
You will always have people like that who could care less about who's to blame and who isn't. You will be blamed for things you didn't do and you will be disrespected by customers. Those who are really good at handling angry people without getting angry themselves are the types of people who have the easiest times working as cashiers. Those who get upset easily or who can't think fast enough under stress are the ones who regret ever applying for the job.
One of the most frustrating things about being a cashier is when money goes missing from the drawer. If it's only a little bit of money and it only happens once, it's usually not a big deal and your supervisor or manager will treat it as a simple mistake or clerical error.
But when it happens a lot or it's a large amount of money, you may get fired or even arrested if they have any evidence against you. When you start your shift as a cashier, you're supposed to count out how much money is in the drawer and write it down for your supervisor or manager.
The person who worked the drawer before you is also supposed to do this at the end of their shift when they close the cash drawer for the next person.
The manager should verify what they write down by counting themselves, but this doesn't always happen at some places. This system is in place to protect both you and the employee who counted it out before you from being blamed for something you didn't do.
The real problem is when companies don't use this system or when the money in the drawer doesn't match the amounts that were ringed up by the register or the products that were given out. Say for instance that you're working at Mcdonalds and you ring up $500 worth of items sold on your shift. Then you count out the drawer and there's only $400 cash or credit card receipt slips in your drawer.
This looks like you either counted wrong and need to recount the final amount, or that you stole $100 from the drawer. Employees are usually told to lock the drawer whenever leaving it, so nobody else can steal from another person's drawer, but this also isn't always followed. If this happens and someone steals from your drawer, it's your fault leaving it open and you will be blamed.
It's also your fault if you ring up $500 worth of goods, but actually only sold $400 worth of goods.
In this case, no money is actually missing and it was just a mistake on your part for ringing up too many items. But initially, it looks like something was stolen and you'll take the blame because you should have realized that you rang up $100 too much and should have notified a supervisor or manager to fix the error in the register.
No Time for Unexpected Problems
Another thing that can really make your job difficult is when you're so busy that your manager or supervisor becomes too busy to help you or answer your questions. There's been many times when I've been working a cash register for fast food companies or clothing stores where my supervisor was too busy to help me out when I had a problem.
Sometimes the lines will build up with customers so fast that you'll just be trying to ring them up as quickly as possible and you may run into a problem, like a credit card not being accepted by the register's card scanner.
So you call the supervisor to come help you, but he or she may already be busy helping other cashiers out and you'll have a whole line of people angry with you as they have to wait there until a supervisor can show up. In any other industry that isn't as customer-oriented, this wouldn't be as much of a problem.
But in this case, you have people who are not going to want to wait in line very long and so the situation can become very stressful very quickly. In fast food this is often an everyday occurence if your store gets a lot of customers every day, so it should be expected.
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