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Oakland, CA

Posted By Bakari

Sometimes when I'm working at the bikestation I go up to the Walgreens just outside the BART for an orange juice.

One day I went up and the line was just ridiculous.  They brought in a 2nd checker, but the line still kept growing faster...

And then this guy comes back from helping a customer, back to his checkstands.

Not a typo.  Checkstands.
He unlocks two registers.

He calls someone up, scans the purchases and gives them the total.  And then as that customer goes through their wallet for change or waits for the credit machine to process, he calls someone else up to his other register.
This guy is a joy and a wonder to watch.  He makes it look smooth, almost effortless.
His co-workers were stressed, not smiling, barely speaking or looking at their customers, but he was right in his element, all smiles and politeness and eye contact.  He could talk to the person at one register while processing the items on the other, with no signs of confusion or hesitation.
He did the work of two people, and made it look easier than it takes most people to do the work of one.

I worked as a cashier part-time when I went back to college, just before I started BioDiesel Hauling.
It wasn't the worst thing I've ever done, and I was decently good at it, to the point where if a manager wasn't handy I was the person my co-worker came to with questions.  But it certainly wasn't much of a challenge. It never occurred to me that being a checker was something it was even possible to excel at.  I have been shown otherwise.

You know, in general I am not particularly in favor of maximizing potential, or doing one's best, I think the whole concept stems from a manipulative puritan work ethic imposed on the populace.  But given that one has to be at work some set hours anyway, you may as well do a good job of it while you're there.  So often I have seen just the opposite - people putting in as many hours as possible, but working slow and slacking off, as if they are somehow getting over on someone.  I never thought much about cashiers one way or another, but here is one I admire.
This checker doesn't get paid twice as much, but he does his job beyond expectation, and seems to enjoy it a hell of a lot more than anyone else working there.  The line disappeared.  And if that weren't enough, now all the people who reads this blog (all 6 of them) will know that there is one very amazing checker at one particular Walgreens in downtown Berkeley.

1 Comment(s):
mom said...
food for thought: the idea of doing your best or maximizing your potential is not necessarily a puritanical conspiracy. It can also be coming from a place of living life to its fullest. As you pointed out, if you are going to be at work a set number of hours, why not make the most of it? As you noticed, the cashier who was doing his best looked a lot happier than than the others (tho perhaps they were doing their best too.) It's not always about working harder, per se, but working better. It's also about enjoying everything you do as much as possible. Ever notice how when jogging, it is harder to hold yourself back and run slow than to run fast? Likewise, it feels better and more fulfilling to do your best rather than to just shlump thru the day watching the clock till you get off. Of course it's best to choose work that you enjoy and/or believe in. Then, once you have chosen whatever you are going to do for however long, go ahead and do it well while you are there. Don't kill yourself with overwork or work so many hours that your personal life suffers. But do enjoy your work and excel if you can, because your work IS your life while you are there. -- mom
April 18, 2009 11:37 AM
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