19 June 2009

Gas Station Annoyance #4

Top Five Gas Station Annoyances

4. Employees

I have worked retail for a great percentage of my short working career. Having somehow overcome that role in the working arena, I do not envy anyone working with the public directly their jobs. In fact, I try to be as courteous and helpful as possible.

Having said that, I also know something about one's responsibility to customers as a retail worker. I am not too naïve to believe that all employees working with customers face-to-face feel the same level of responsibility as I do to make sure the customer's needs are taken care of above all other responsibilities.

But, evidently there is something in the gas station employee handbook that states that the least important thing they have to attend to is the customer. This extends to any and all customers, whether they be in the gas station store trying to checkout, at the gas pump waiting for the clerk to turn on the pump, locked in the bathroom because the bowling ball attached to the key has broken the key in two, stealing personal hygiene products from the rack, or on fire at their car because they failed to put out their cigarette before opening their gas lid and releasing the highly combustible gas.

Standing in line with my one drink, expecting perhaps a two-minute wait (speaking of naivety), I found that there was only one cashier. Given that I was hitting the store at the peak rush hour of gas stations (first thing in the morning so people can get their gas fill-up, donuts, cigarettes, lottery tickets, more cigarettes, and a jumbo-supreme coffee), this was slightly amazing to me. More so amazing than that, though, was that there were three other people visibly working throughout, all presumably with cashier training. However, they had more important things than to fool with the mile-long line of patrons.

The lone cashier, however, was attending to two customers at a time: one in the correct line where normal people check out and pay; and one who decided that as long as he could reach over the mountain of stuff blocking people from, say, putting their stuff down and paying there, he could put his stuff down and pay there. (I have to give this particular cashier credit for being an exception to my argument this morning, as she handled both customers with all the finesse and courtesy one might give a small but annoying child of 14 in need of juvenile detention.)

What about the other employees? Here's a quick overview of the things that were more important than letting people buy their stuff so they could get to work on time:

  • making sure both coffee pots (one caffeinated, one hyper-caffeinated) were in working order and full;
  • filling up the already full donut rack;
  • mopping one spot for the entire time I was there;
  • leaning against the counter conversing with a truck driver about the weather or the price of diesel or something equally inane (perhaps the fact that there was a line of customers reaching to the back door);
  • getting a fire extinguisher ready to whack a fly that had landed on the donut rack.

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