I do most of my grocery shopping at Safeway, which is a big chain market. A couple of years ago some Safeway executive genius decided that what Safeway customers most wanted was to be relentlessly chatted up.
As near as I can tell, all the Safeway employees have been instructed to talk to every single customer at every available opportunity.
The produce stockers are always very chatty. It's hard to maneuver through the faux-barrels without someone robotically asking me how things are going. I know they don't really want to know how things are going. They know that I know this, but still we must dance this dance. Hey, produce guy, things are going goddamn ducky.
Then, should you spend more than 20 seconds perusing a shelf, a nearby clerk will suddenly activate, asking if there's anything they can help you find. This almost always happens when I'm discretely browsing something like the tampons section. Today it happened when I looking for nail polish remover (astonishingly, nail polish remover is NOT near the nail polish or the make-up, instead it's in the coffee aisle, next to the diapers. Duh).
I like my grocery shopping to be as efficient as possible, so these little courtesy chats do nothing but annoy me. Hey, cereal stocking clerk, you really want to know how I'm doing? Go ask the produce guy. He's got a two-year history on my emotional state.
The checkout process is a comedy of constantly repeated courtesy comments. Both the cashier and the bagger will each utter the following sentences AT LEAST once:
- How are you today, sir?
- Need any help out today, sir?
- How is your last name pronounced?
- Have a nice day, sir.
I should just walk up, and immediately scream, "ANNOYED! NO! SMITH! OH, IT'S TOO GODDAMN LATE FOR THAT!"
What part of taking my money requires the correct pronounciation of my name? I've had sex with people who couldn't pronounce it*, so I think you should be able to bag my groceries without insight into my ancestral lineage.
I don't blame the clerks. This behavior is unnatural and is clearly being demanded by insane management. I just don't get why. Who is fooled by this fake courtesy?
* Entirely false.