Coupons Galore

Back in the early 90’s I worked various positions at our local grocer, Safeway. As I worked through college, I made my way up the ranks from courtesy clerk (read: bagger) to cashier. I took pride in the work and always tried to be the fastest cashier in the west!

Just like any job, there were days that called for extra patience–especially dealing with tough customers. I remember the stories flying around like wildfire in the break room about a customer who did this, or another customer who was rude to good ol’ Rhonda, the sweetest (and oldest) cashier on the planet.

Yesterday the memories came flooding back as I stood in line at the grocery store behind a fellow shopper with a stack of coupons. A big stack. I remember, oh so vividly, the patience it took to ring up people with a plethora of coupons. Sometimes the coupons worked with the scanner, sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes people forgot to actually buy the item they had a coupon for, causing the register to decline the coupon, which in turn provoked the customer to insist they bought it! And thus began a game of cat and mouse searching through the bags for the illusive item. While this went down, my checkout line would grow and grow, and the exasperation on the faces of the people would grow tenfold. I mean once you hit the checkout lane, you’re just ready to get the hell out of there…because really, who likes standing in line? And I’d take this personally…people leaving my line because of someone and their endless coupons.

I often worked the late shift until midnight as it fit nicely with my school schedule. Usually after 10 p.m. only one cashier remained on the floor… so the adrenaline rush was high when a line started to form. One customer, I’ll call her Sally, often came late to shop to avoid the hustle and bustle and take her time finding every item on her list–and–you guessed it, she always had coupons to beat the band!  She would load up two carts at a time, wheel them up, and let the games begin! I had fun with Sally. Most likely because there usually weren’t any bosses around that late to monitor the scene. As the scanner would decline one of Sally’s coupons, my courtesy clerk and I would try to throw Sally for a loop. She’d hand us a coupon and say, “I couldn’t find this on the shelves.” And we’d reply in a funny accent, “well, that’s because it’s on aisle 74!” (there was no aisle 74) or we’d say, “oh, those corn puffs are on the bottom of the clearance shelf next to the eggs and need to be refrigerated” (pure lie). Sally never blinked an eye or paid us any attention. Why? Because her eyes were glued to the screen as she watched her total amount due diminish coupon by coupon by coupon! Imagine her excitement on DOUBLE COUPON days!

I’m not against coupons. I use them now and then. And I was definitely happy as I stood in that line yesterday and watched the cashier fly through the stack of coupons with no problem. It seems as though technology has once again saved the day.

As for Sally? I’m sure she’s still a late night shopper getting all the deals!

One thought on “Coupons Galore

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