Checkout: A Life on the Tills – Anna Sam (@Anna_Sam)

Oh to be a checkout girl! I have an inkling of what it feels like, if my job as a cashier at Cardies while in high school is anything to go by!

No. My experience is apparently far from it! At least I only did it during weekends and school holidays. The kind of “life on the tills” that French author, mom, blogger and author Anna Sam speaks of in her book is off the everyday, all day kind of tip. She paints the following picture for us:

“Can you scan 800 barcodes an hour? Can you smile and say “thanks” 500 times a day? Do you never need to go to the toilet? Then working on a supermarket checkout could be just the job for you.”

Sam has a university degree. But because she couldn’t find a job after completing her degree, Sam decided to stay on in the supermarket checkout girl game. And in eight years of being in the game, Sam has a tale or two (or 50!) to share with readers.

With a trolleyful of humour, Sam takes us through just about every type of customer she’s had to endure, how pointless it is being ‘employee of the month’, the mad ‘sale season’, customers who ask “Are you open?” instead of “Is your till open?” and every other situation in between. I had a more than my fair share of moments where I ACTUALLY laughed out loud and slapped my thigh because Sam writes so casually, so full of humour, so inviting and paints the perfect picture of an experience that readers are all too familiar with.

As frustrating as it is being a customer served by a lazy and unfriendly cashier, I have now fully stepped into what’s it’s like being on ‘the other side’. The magical ‘other side’ of the till where you’ll scan 800 mind-numbing barcodes day and smile 500 mind-numbing smiles a day. Not anyone’s idea of the most fun in the world.

I couldn’t help thinking how much more interesting and relevant a book of this nature would have been had it been written by a proud South African about their stint as a cashier at Shoprite or Pick n Pay. Yes granted some experiences are universal, but some, some experiences ring only with local Mzansi flavour and boy would I savour and chuckle at some tasty morsels of stories behind the till.

-Babongile Z

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