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The Return of the Soviet Cashier
The relaxed customer is a brat and should be put back into his place. :)
This story is a short philosophical observation about the dictatorship of the unhealed.
I will never forget the Soviet cashier.
The cashier, a menace of all polite people and other “weak” intelligentsia types, was typically a Rubenesque, busty woman with a domineering presence and a strong sense of self-worth.
Since the Soviet cashier was the final frontier sitting between the people and the “consumer goods,” it was in the best interests of every so called customer to kiss up to her, be on her good side and most certainly, never argue with her. You could not win an argument with a cashier anyway.
I was genuinely terrified of them as a kid because they were big, domineering, and rude—and I was small and polite, and I had no idea how to interact with them in any other way besides trying to go past them as quickly as possible without angering them in any way.
On a semi-related note: do you want to know the technology that they used to make high-end smoked fish for sale at a particular bazaar in Moscow, after the collapse of the USSR? Here’s how it worked: when the fish began to rot because it had not sold on time, the sellers would soak it in household bleach, then take it out, let the bleach evaporate, marinate the chemically treated fish in a blend of spices to kill the smell of bleach, smoke the thing, and then sell it expensively to unsuspecting bazaar goers. Yum, and yes, this is how it actually worked. (Apropos of nothing Soviet, today, 90% of all citric acid, a food additive, is produced using Aspergillus niger, a mold with a prominent reputation for causing human disease. Lucky us, and bon appétit.)
But back to our Soviet cashier.
I was reminded of the Soviet cashier earlier today when I was standing in a customer service line at a grocery store.
The “customer service rep,” a young guy with a focus on his rights, was schooling the “customers,” a pair of soft-spoken elderly gents. I don’t know which of them was right or wrong but the argument seemed to be about a few bucks that the elderly gentlemen believed they had overpaid.
By the time I joined the line, the young guy was shooting daggers out of his eyes. He was so irritated it was almost physically toxic, he had this “I can barely hold it in” angry expression, very prickly. He was doing all sorts of faces and trying to “put the customers back in their place” and telling the gents that they were rude to him and didn’t listen to him properly, etc.
Now, again, I have no idea which of them was logistically correct—but I do remember the times when arguments over a couple of bucks got resolved like this: “We appreciate your business, here are your five bucks, thank you for shopping with us,” etc. Everyone happy, case closed.
Not under the dictatorship of the unhealed though! Under the dictatorship of the unhealed, no one should be happy!
And the ironic thing is that the “customer service rep” was defending not his mom’n’pop five bucks (it was a not a mom’n’pop store), he was going to war with the elderly gents simply because he didn’t want to satisfy them—and he didn’t want to satisfy them because, seemingly, satisfying them felt like a personal insult to him. “Happiness? Not on my watch!!”
And two related short pre-COVID essays:
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