Nosy store clerks deserve what they get

I don’t have a problem with stores posting greeters at the door and not too much of a problem with them posting people to check receipts as you exit. It’s a quality control issue and keeps costs down from theft, pilferage and inaccurate checkout whether due to sloppiness or malice. The exit checker is also the store’s last opportunity to give you a good experience before you leave.  No matter what else happens in the store, no matter how frustrated you got because they didn’t have that thing you came for and the stock drone couldn’t care less, that person by the exit door can leave you with a good impression just by smiling and being friendly.

Unless of course they are too friendly.

We have three cats and so when I go to the warehouse store I buy cat litter in bulk.  Not a 40-lb bucket bulk, but 200 lbs at a time bulk.  That’s five 40-lb buckets.  Or more.  I don’t get to the warehouse store that often and we have a garage to stack up the buckets.  It’s not like I’m buying the whole pallet or anything and yet apparently 5 buckets of cat litter is so unusual that the receipt checker invariably feels compelled to comment on it.  “How many cats do you have?” is the usual enquiry. As far as I’m concerned this is none of their business so I’m not particularly compelled to answer truthfully. I usually think up something on the spot.  Here are a few recent examples.

The Hoarder

“That’s a lot of cat litter! How many cats do you have?”

“Oh we don’t have any cats.”

“What’s with all the cat litter, then?”

“My best friend is a hoarder.  He has something like 100 cats in his house.”

“So you buy his cat litter?  Doesn’t’ that, you know, enable him?”

“Oh, I’m just picking it up for him.  I’m not paying for it.  The state does that.”

“The state?”

“Sure.  Due to the hoarding, he’s on 100% disability.  He’s completely unemployable so the state picks up the tab.  Despite what you hear on TV, it’s incurable and keeping the cats is the best treatment they have so far.  Since it’s medical treatment, the state covers the whole thing.”

“Really?  Food too? How much does all that cost?”

“Oh sure, they have to cover the food.  Vet bills too.  If they didn’t it would be cruelty to animals.  It’s like $100,000 a month or so but compare that to the cost of funding a no-kill shelter.  This is actually quite a steal for the state since they have no employees, no payroll, no Social Security to pay into, etc.  If a private firm tried this they’d call it indentured servitude.  The state can do it because its medical treatment.  They just find hoarders and set them up as unofficial no-kill shelters.  In fact, if you like cats or dogs and don’t mind slogging through crap up to your ankles it’s not a bad gig.  I considered doing it myself.”

Stunned silence ensued.

“Well, you’ve got more shoppers in line.  I’ll see you tomorrow!”

The Sandbox

“That’s a lot of cat litter! How many cats do you have?”

“Oh we don’t have any cats.”

“What’s with all the cat litter, then?”

“It’s for my kid’s sandbox.  He wets his pants a lot and I was spending a fortune replacing the sand.  This way the pee just clumps up and I can scoop it out.”

“Isn’t that bad for him with all that dust? I don’t think I’d want to play in a sandbox that’s been peed in.”

“No, no, no, it’s all very sanitary. Most of the litter actually clings to him when its wet so I’m pretty sure there’s no leftover pee in the box once we scoop it out. It’s a bit ironic because we have to make sure he drinks a lot while he’s in there and then he just pees more.”

“Why do you do that?”

“This stuff is a desiccant.  It absorbs water.  That’s what makes it clump.  But if you play in it too long it starts to dehydrate you so you have to keep drinking. One guy in California let his kid play unsupervised for a few hours and the kid mummified and died. That’s what gave me the idea.  The dry environment is what kills the bacteria.  Poor kid, though.  When they pulled him out he was down to half his body weight.  Pretty cool huh?”

Stunned silence ensued.

“Well, I can see you’ve got more shoppers in line.  I’ll see you next time!”

The dog

“That’s a lot of cat litter! How many cats do you have?”

“Oh we don’t have any cats.”

“What’s with all the cat litter, then?”

“We’ve got this 80 lb pit bull mix and when my wife was sick and couldn’t walk him, we filled up a kid’s sandbox with cat litter and trained him to go inside.”

“Oh, that’s clever!  How’s that working out for you?”

“Well, not as good as we’d hoped.  First of all, he’s no cat and has no instinct to cover up and, as I said he’s a big dog.  I think you know where I’m going with this.”

“But is your wife still sick?  Can’t you just let him go outside?”

“Well we tried that but he likes the sandbox.  We took it away and he backed my wife into a corner and growled at her until I put it back.”

“He sounds dangerous.  Why do you keep him?”

“You kidding?  He’s a member of the family.  We couldn’t give him to someone else, they’d put him down.  We didn’t turn our back on Uncle George when he went on that killing spree in Atlanta, we damned sure aren’t giving up on our puppy because he likes a litter box.  As long as we feed him before we eat and let him pick the TV shows we watch he’s perfectly content, and he is SUCH a good watchdog.  The one time we ever had a burglar he just grabbed the guy’s leg and didn’t let go until the police shot him with a tranquilizer dart.  Guy almost bled out right there on the floor and Uncle George was giddy as a schoolgirl.  We love that dog.”

Stunned silence ensued.

“Well, I can see you’ve got more shoppers in line.  I’ll see you next time!”

The cat

“That’s a lot of cat litter! How many cats do you have?”

“Just the one.  But he’s really big.”

“Wow, I guess so!  What is he, one of those Main Coon cats?”


“You mean Tabby?”

“No, I mean tiger.  An actual tiger.  We raised him from a cub and now he’s our housecat.”

“A tiger for a pet?  Isn’t that dangerous?”

“Hell yeah, it’s dangerous!  He thinks he’s still a cub and when you’re asleep he’ll try to curl up on your chest.  Or if you are on the couch trying to watch TV he’ll jump up in your lap.  He’s 400 lbs and once he almost crushed my wife standing on her chest and licking her face.  I grabbed a steak and yelled ‘kitty treat’ before she suffocated.”

“Didn’t she make you get rid of him after that?”

“Get rid of him?  He’s her cat, not mine.  When she was younger she broke into an animal research lab, rescued him and a bunch of other animals and then blew up the lab.  He has sentimental value.  She’d never get rid of him.”

“Blew up the lab?  What happened to all the other animals?”

“Well, sad to say as he grew up and got bigger he eventually ate them one by one.  He has a hunting instinct, ya know?  So now once or twice a week we go down to the pound and get him a cat or a dog.  Long as he has something to hunt and kill, he’s perfectly safe as a housecat.  We did have to get all red rugs though.  So the stains aren’t that noticeable.”

Stunned silence ensued.

“Well, I can see you’ve got more shoppers in line.  I’ll see you next time!”

The followup

I assume that if you buy enough of anything the exit checker will ask you about it.  Five gallons of milk?  “You got a lot of kids?”  Five boxes of yogurt?  “You must REALLY like yogurt!”  A warehouse sized box of condoms, a six-pack of whipped cream and a digital camera?  “You planning a party?”  So I invite you to try this experiment.  Buy something in bulk and see if the exit checker comments on it.  If so then mess with their head and tell me about it in the comments.  Or if you are too shy, just tell me what to buy (possibly also send me money to cover costs depending on what it is) and I’ll run the experiment.  But in any case, NEVER put up with a nosy store clerk.  What you buy is none of their business.  After all, it’s only a matter of time before adult diapers are in the cart and you KNOW the best place to buy those is going to be at the warehouse store by the caseload.

About T.Rob

Computer security nerd. WebSphere MQ expert. Autist. Advocate. Author. Humanist. Text-based life form. Find me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
This entry was posted in General, Humor, Rant and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Nosy store clerks deserve what they get

  1. Pingback: What’s in a name? | The Odd is Silent

  2. Mariah says:

    It’s my school of thought that professionals acknowledge all customers and do so with basic respect and dignity. Otherwise, all that’s left is…. a society like we actually have. *sigh* Ah well, a girl can dream! 🙂

  3. Mariah says:

    I love this post because I’ve had a few very nosy checkers at Trader Joe’s in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. The clerks make all kinds of very false assumptions about me. They ask me what school I go to, when I moved into the neighborhood, what I study, where I’m from, etc.

    They don’t really care about the truth and I feel they don’t deserve to know all my personal business because after they bag my food, they’ll continue to be nothing but strangers to me.

    They assume I’m rich, even as I wear a used, outdated coat from the thrift store and pay with LINK. I’m clearly not even average in financial status. Those workers would not know how to survive on the very, very small amount of money I make per month.

    Still, I choose to be smart and thankful about my money. Plus, I don’t drink alcohol or smoke or pursue detrimentally bad habits that cost lots of money, like is popular to do amongst people my age…. and I cannot drive and never could, so I do not waste my money on gas or foolishness.

    They try to guess my age and if I have a boyfriend or am I lesbian and do I live close by or drive there and do I work or am I a lazy bum, will I avoid with their interrogation or be passive enough to put up with it and do I have a sugar daddy (lol) or am I independent, etc.

    They’ll never know because it’s none of their damn business and where is their SHAME? How can they not be utterly embarrassed of themselves for interrogating me like it’s 20/20 interview? I feel ashamed of them for them. They’re so rude and ignorant and they have enough stupidity to believe that their target doesn’t notice… that they’re target will simply take it as general smalltalk. It’s not, it’s attacking a person’s character and lifestyle that they have no business knowing anything about.

    I moved into this neighborhood last year and I wouldn’t have had I known that well-off people would be taking me for wealthy. I’ve never been wealthy my whole life. Lakeview is generally an affluent area of the city, but not everybody who lives here has money. Their are HUD residences and special programs for the less fortunate. Maybe it’s because I look white and white ladies are expected to be involved with rich men, Idk. But, I pay a very low rent and I’m single.

    Anyway, I appreciate this post because it helps me to see that there still are decent people around. I don’t owe these random stranger store clerks anything.

    • T.Rob says:

      Wow, people asking about our cats doesn’t seem nearly as rude all of a sudden! Feel free to be creative with your responses. It’s always fun for me to come up with off-the-wall explanations for store clerk’s nosy questions. Of course, there’s a school of thought that is at least glad to have them notice the customer. Last time I was in the grocery the girl checking my order (and I do mean “girl” here, she looked young even for a high-schooler) was too busy chatting up a stock clerk to notice me, barely noticing the groceries she was checking. I’m still trying to figure out if being asked nosy questions is better or worse than barely being noticed. Anyway, thanks for the kind comments!

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  5. Pingback: Culinary Alchemy – Part 2 of the Nosy Store Clerks saga | The Odd is Silent

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  9. Jørgen Pedersen says:

    Great fun, I haven’t tried this approach on the few exit checkers I’vs meet here in Denmark…
    Exit checkers is only present in larger building material stores. And it requires a special project to buy so large amount of that stuff that he will react on it.Have fun.

  10. T.Rob says:

    Actually, many of the folks I work with daily are from Hursley UK and for them the correct spelling is humour. So, could be a blonde moment, could be a Brit moment. Cheers! And thanks!

  11. Carol Wethington says:

    Love your sense of humour! I always enjoy your take on things. Looking forward to more as they strike you.

    • Carol Wethington says:

      Oh yeah, a bit blonde, meant humor! How about a take on the inability to spell correctly : )

  12. Joseluis says:

    T.Rob, you’re awesome. I thought I was the only one who was like this. I certainly don’t know anyone personally like me, so I’m glad I found your website.

  13. T.Rob says:

    Ice maker is still busted so I went to the store today for a refill and as I’m checking out, the bagger asks if I want the ice in a bag. “Sure” I reply, “but make it a paper bag. It keeps the ice a bit cooler and, more importantly, I throw them on the floor in the kitchen and the cats like to dive in.” At which point the cashier turns to me and asks “Oh? How many cats do you have?” Dammit! Walked right into that one.

  14. jazmynand says:

    Hahahaha! This is great, you are great. I love this.

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