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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Few Stereotypical Generalizations Observed One Sunday While On Register at Barnes and Noble

Old people want their bags, consarnit!

When I’m on register and someone purchases two items or less, I usually ask them if they’d like a bag, rather than automatically putting their stuff in one. I find that very few people will go out of their way to decline a bag, but most of the time, if asked directly, will (unless it’s raining/snowing outside). However small a difference this makes, I figure this saves the company a few cents (they won’t have to reorder more bags as often) and does a small part to help the environment (one less bag getting trashed as soon as the customer gets home).

However, I said that most people will decline a bag; you know who never declines a bag? Old people. Doesn’t matter if they’re purchasing a gift card that will be dwarfed by our smallest bag; they want a bag for it. It’s like they couldn’t bag their purchases bagged during the Great Depression so they have to make up for it today by having everything, no matter how trivial, put in a bag.

We're old! Give us our bag!

If a vaguely college-aged looking male is purchasing a Christian Inspiration book, he goes to Bethel.

The store at which I work is very near Bethel University, a private college known for the Christian fervor of its students and faculty. And there’s nothing wrong with that-I’m not making a value judgment here, just an observation. I can almost guarantee you, at my store, if a guy that looks like he could be in college is buying a Christian Inspiration book, he’s a Bethel Student.

Jesus rules!!

And when I say “Christian Inspiration” I don’t mean they’re purchasing a Bible, or a catechism, or some kind of theology book. We have a different sections for those kinds of books within the general “religion” area: Bibles, Comparative Religion, and Christianity, respectively. I'm talking about Christian Inspiration where you’d find works by televangelists like Joel Osteen, Billy Graham or Robert Schuler and authors like Joyce Meyers or TD Jakes. Again, I'm not making any kind of value judgment here; it's just that in my experience most college-aged males don't buy these kinds of books-unless they go to Bethel.

Anyone who has “See ID” on their credit card will want their receipt “with them.”

Just like the bag question, I ask every customer if they would prefer their copy of the receipt with them or in the bag. Most people just have me toss it in the bag. A few take it themselves and stuff it into a billfold or purse. But I can guarantee you, if the customer has “See ID” written on the back of their card in addition to/instead of their signature, then they want their receipt with them, and how dare you even ask, and are you trying to steal my identity?

My assumption when I read “See ID” on the back of a card is that the person is more paranoid than the average person about identity theft. So I then assume their desire to tightly clutch their receipt in hand stems from the same paranoia: they wouldn’t want to risk that receipt falling out of their bag, or worse, being found by one of the scores of identity thieves that WCCO news tells us routinely pore through everyone’s garbage for such things.

I myself am admittedly more cavalier about the subject than I probably should be (I often like to joke that if someone wants to steal my credit cards, they’re welcome to them. Enjoy all that debt, moron) but I think some people take it a little far. For example, on this same Sunday, I had a gentlemen enter his debit card pin into our customer credit card reader with his other hand up to block my view of the numbers he’s entering. Assuming, apparently that:

  1. I actually gave a damn and was paying any attention to his pin.
  2. Possessed a desire to unscrupulously and illegally access his account, presumably to fuel the heroin habit he must assume I possess.
  3. I had some intricate and devious plan to gain access to his debit card itself, without which knowledge of his pin would be worthless, thus forcing me to either go through withdrawal or sell my body on the street.

So thanks dude, since you were “saavy” enough to put up your hand up while you entered your pin, now I’m a man-whore.

Quit looking at my pin, man-whore.

Writing checks is really, really slow.

Seriously, who writes checks anymore (well, old people, but that’s another generalization)? I write maybe two checks a month for bills that I can’t pay electronically, and one of those will be changing soon. Otherwise, a friend might get a check as reimbursement for something since I rarely have cash.

But there are people out there who still insist on writing checks for the most mundane of purchases, including books, instead of using the almost universally used check/credit/debit card. And when they decide to do so, the whole rhythm of the line grounds to a halt (like those credit card commercials where someone decides to use cash instead of their Visa or whatever). But cash we can handle; with all the swiping and authorizing that goes on with credit cards, they take about as long to process as it takes to make change. But checks are just SLOW. And people that write checks are oblivious to this, of course, (obviously, since they’re writing a check in the first place). Do they bother to have all but the amount filled in when they reach the counter? No. Do they at least start filling it out as I’m ringing up their purchases? No. They don’t even bother to pull their checkbook from the cavernous maw of their purse until after I’ve given them their total.

So I’ve decided that whenever someone decides to slow things up with a check, I am going to ask them for their phone number (if it’s not on the check already) and write it down. I will also ask for their ID. And write their driver’s license number on the check. And the expiration date. Oh, I’m sorry, is this taking too long? Well, the 90s called and it said to use a friggin’ check card!

The 90s also want their clothes back...


  1. Ah, Teebore. There's your "voice" that I know and love.

  2. Ha Ha!
    Work that register you barne slave!


  3. Has my copy of "Daily Readings from Your Best Life Now : 90 Devotions for Living at Your Full Potential" come in yet?


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