The other day, I made a few simple purchases at a local shopping place which shall remain un-named.  You can probably figure it out, however, if I tell you it is a big chain store around which every town revolves.  I hate to shop there, but don’t have any other alternatives, as this store has run all the other businesses in town out of business.  Anyway, I stood in line in one of the three open registers (out of 25) with a small crowd in front of and behind me.  I finally made it to the cashier and handed her my money.  This is where things got difficult.  Although up to this point she had moved at the speed of a hibernating tortoise, suddenly, without warning, she stacked my receipt, bills, and a mound of coins into my left hand faster than I could blink, and shoved my bag into my right hand.  Then she started scanning the items from the person behind me.

What was I supposed to do?  I knew I needed to move out of the way, but I stood helpless with a pile of change in one hand and my bagged purchases in the other.  If I tried to separate the coins from the bills with the hand holding my bag, the bag (or my purse) would knock into my hand balancing all the change and cause me to drop coins everywhere.  Then I would be down on my hands and knees trying to catch the rolling coins while the customer behind me was forced to step over me.  Or, with my luck, he would be texting and trip over me, causing severe bodily harm to us both. Besides that, I still held my wallet in my right hand, so I didn’t exactly have free fingers. I suppose I could have laid my  bag down on the counter while I dealt with putting my change into my wallet, but then I would still be in the way of the person behind me.  Plus, knowing myself all too well, I would have walked off and left my bag on the counter.  But even without the bag in my right hand, it’s still hard to sort through the coins and bills.  If I put all the coins in my right hand and leave the bills and receipt in my left, I’m not dexterous enough to open my wallet, unzip the coin pouch and deposit the coins with two occupied hands.  I guess I could have just dumped everything into my purse or shoved it all in my pocket to be sorted out later so I could move quickly out of the way.  However, again, knowing myself, the sorting out would never come.

I really don’t understand why cashiers render people powerless to deal with their change.  Cashiers must have to go through rigorous training in how to return change in the most awkward way possible.  I can just envision them undergoing exercises in piling up receipts, bills, and coins into a customer’s hand.  “No, Susie, you are supposed to dump all the coins at once.  Do it again until you get it right!” Maybe the management figures if enough customers drop enough change on the floor, the business can rake in another few dollars from the coins that roll under the cashier desk.

I have been known to snatch my hand away after the cashier lays bills in my hand before she can load me up with coins.  This way I can easily put my bills into my wallet first.  Sometimes it backfires and she releases the coins into the air.  But then she has to chase them.  As aggravating as this situation is, I think I have finally found the solution.  From now on, I’m only paying with credit or debit cards—assuming the card machine can read my chip.