We’ve all been there. It might have been at the grocery store, the movies, or a restaurant, but at some time you’ve encountered a new cashier. Someone who is just getting used to the demand of a long line of customers while overcoming situations that may not have been covered in training and trying to keep nerves in check. For some, it can be as stressful as stage fright. No amount of rehearsal or memorization can help because the moment the lights are on, the microphone is in hand, and the eyes of the audience are watching, all the words just get jumbled then forgotten. It takes time and practice to get over it; but they will, eventually.
In the mean time, chances are mistakes will be made. Even veteran cashiers will make mistakes. It’s all part of human nature. But is their mistake your blessing?
Here’s the situation that happened earlier at my local grocery store. After I grabbed a few things, I got in the shortest line which happened to be the one with a new cashier. I knew she was new because I had just been in there the night before and was in her line as she was being trained, and from what little encounter I had then, it appeared as though this is her very first job.
So, after I put my basket on the belt, I looked up just as she was counting change (all coins) for the gentleman she was helping. Once she handed it to him, he handed it back and said she owed him a dollar. He explained that it was four dollars and some change and he gave her a five and that change, so she should give him a dollar. The confusion was clear on her face. It took her a little while and help from a couple of others to get her drawer open. Once she did, she took out a dollar and handed it to him along with the change she should have put back in her drawer.
So here’s where the moral dilemma comes in. Before, the cashier had shorted the customer, but he was quick to correct her. Now, the man stands with extra money in his hand. Her mistake is now in his favor.
I’m sure by now you are remembering times when this has happened to you; either as a customer or as a cashier. Depending on your experience, you may have different thoughts on this situation. One thought may be that he tried to explain to her, he gave her a chance to correct the mistake, but since she was incorrect again, he should just take the money. Another could be that it’s completely her fault and that’s what she gets for not knowing basic math. (Yes, there are people who feel this way.) One that I’ve heard before is that this situation would be a blessing for the customer to be given more money.
On the other side, usually from people who have worked with money before, is that it is dishonest to keep the extra money. The thought there is not only is it dishonest, but there is a chance the cashier would either have to pay the money out of her own pocket or possibly get written up.
Over the years, I’ve worked many places where I dealt with money. Each place had their own policies. Generally, if the cash register is short or over by $5, the policy is for that person to be written up. Three write ups equals termination. If the drawer is short or over by $100, that warrants immediate termination. Most of the places I have worked had an unwritten, unspoken rule that if your drawer was short more than $1, that money had to be “found” somewhere. That somewhere was usually the cashier’s wallet.
So, back to the story. What would you do, or have done in this situation as the customer? Do you feel that it is a blessing to be given extra money? Or do you feel that it is dishonest to keep it? If you are like the vast majority of people, you would hand the excess money back. Unfortunately, this customer was in the former group. Once he was handed the money, he looked at it for just a second as he realized he had been given too much this time, shrugged his shoulders, and pocketed all of it.
I know the thought of many (as I’ve seen a great number of posts throughout the years on social media) is the focus here should be on the fact that far too many young people are growing up and entering the world without learning basic skills; such as being able to give correct change without the help of a register. However, what struck me more was the customer’s ability to knowingly walk out with more money than what he should have.
He was vocal (with a slight irritation) about correcting her when she shorted him, and just as quick to walk out when she over paid.
Just as the generation before is tasked with the job of educating and teaching the younger generation skills, so is that generation supposed to teach good moral character.