For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A question about money

Although I've worked retail before, including some very busy department stores, never before have I seen some of the things people do with money as I have since working in a grocery store. So, if anyone out there can enlighten me, please do.

First off, what's with the Ziploc baggies? I mean really. There are wallets, change purses, pockets, bags ... why do so many people use Ziploc baggies? I've rung in the groceries, given the total, and out comes this flimsey little bag (couldn't you at least use the stronger freezer bags?) filled with cash and change... and sometimes I get to see the customer search through a wallet full of credit and debit cards (but no cash) after they discover they don't have enough in the baggie to pay for their groceries. I can sort of understand using an envelope - get a check in the mail, cash it at the bank, put the cash in the same envelope the check came in - but a baggie? I just can't understand it.

Another question. How can some people carry such huge amounts of cash on them comfortably? Like the customers who pull out a thick wad of cash held together with straining elestic bands, then use $100 bills to pay for their $15 transaction. I've had some customers pull one thick wad of cash from one pocket, then a second one, then waffle back and forth between the two before deciding which one to use to pay for their groceries. I remember one customer who went through my express till, where transactions rarely reach as much as $40, pull out one of those bi-fold wallets with two pockets for bills. Out of one pocket, he removed a "fresh" bill from a respectable wad of cash. It was the other pocket that raised my eyebrows. It held a wad of bills at least an inch thick and, by the colour, I could see that over half of that consisted of $100 bills. *Old* bills, at that. The rest appeared to be old $50's. (those of you know know how our Canadian bills have been changing over the years will know what I mean.) The wad was so thick, it didn't completely fit into the pocket, and they had been there so long the corners of the entire stack were worn off, matching the wear and tear of the wallet itself. There had to be at least $2000-$3000 in that one pocket. Now, I'm not entirely comfortable carrying a few hundred dollars, never mind a few thousand! Then there's the thought that someone actually has a few thousand dollars they can just leave in the wallet and ignore long enough for it to show that much wear and tear... must be nice!

Then there's the crumplers. Why, why, why??? My husband is one of these, and he's never been able to give me any real reason as to why he does this. Rather than put the money into their wallet, or even just fold the bill at all, crumplers crumple the bill(s) in their hand before shoving it into their pocket. Then they dig it out to pay me, and I have to try and open these without tearing them, verify how many they actually handed me (I've had people hand me what they thought was a single bill, only to find 1 or 2 more hidden in the crumpled ball when I opened it), then I have to get the bill smooth enough to actually go into my till without catching on the top when I open and close it.

And finally, there are the dedicated non-cash users. I've had people, many of them repeat customers, so I know this isn't an isolated event, use their credit cards to pay for even the tiniest transactions. Seriously, when it costs more to use the card that the bill you're paying, why do it? I've started to wonder if it's somehow a cultural thing, since the customers that do this are overwhelmingly Chinese - but then, that could simply be because we're so close to Chinatown. Can someone enlighten me? Is there a cultural reason for it, or is it just co-incidence?

Just curious.


  1. Oh my gosh!! At least I know Americans and Canadians have the same shopping habits. I wonder about all the same things myself. Especially the crumplers :) I even have some that have checks all folded up and signed, by the time they smooth it out and write the rest up I have a hard time getting it to go through the machine that prints the back. I am also surprised where people pull money out from.

    I thought the baggie carriers only came to my store :) How about the people that put "ask for ID" on the back of their credit card and then get mad you want to see their ID!!

    You made me laugh reading your blog today. Each time I read about your job, I have to laugh because I could have written it. Of course not as well!

  2. LOL I forgot about the check crumplers! We don't get checks very often. I'd say, in the almost 4 months I've been working there, I've had to process, at most, 5 checks.

    I've never had anyone get mad at me about the "ask for ID" thing, though. Quite the opposite. Most are pleasantly shocked I ask at all. It seems most cashiers don't bother to check to see if the signatures match, so they never see the "ask for ID" written on the back. Most of the customers thank me for doing it, and the regular customers who's signatures are no longer legible on their cards usually have their photo ID's out and waiting for me. I find that rather cool.

  3. I do get thanked a lot for checking ID, but there are people who do complain. Even in our store I am told I am one of the few who check for signatures.

    I get several checks a day. It really slows down the line. I have to write their driver license number, experation date and phone number on each check then inital it. When it is over $150.00, under check number 1300, or anything doesn't match we have to have a manager ok it.

    My favorite type of payment is debit card!! I have to smile when I here debit as form of payment because it makes my day each time :)

  4. Speaking of checking ID when using bank cards, I sent my son with my debit card to make a large purchase. Our air conditioner went out in the bedroom. We found one in the paper on sale so I sent my son out thinking since it is a debit card you don't have to show ID or sign for it. Well I forgot this store processes all purchases as credit, so Jason had to sign for it. They did not even check to see it was two different people. He signed his name in the screen on my card no questions asked! I mean in this instance it worked to our advantage, but next time who will be using my card? I do know I shouldn't have done that, but I usually know the places that take debit and just run the card with no signature. Like gas stations.


Drop me a line...