The Check Out
Carina or as her co-workers nicknamed her Corina, worked at the local grocery store in the Checkout. She’s a cashier and while she rang in the customers’ orders, she checked out young guys. They came through her line and she would subtly glance at their muscles, their facial features, and/or their hair. She couldn’t help it.
But one day, a man in his late twenties, early thirties comes through her line. He bought cereal, packaged cheese, and a half-gallon of milk. He adjusted his long flowing hair and handed her a twenty-dollar bill. She glanced at him, looked back at her drawer of money, and looked for the change. She handed him the change.
“No, you keep the change. You deserve it,” the man said.
“What? We’re not allowed to,” Carina replied.
“Hey, see you around.” The man walked off.
With no other customers in line, Carina’s bagger, Hunter left his bag rack and walked through the empty register. “What was that about, Corina?”
I’ve corrected him so many times that I’ve come to accept that he pronounces my name wrong. “Huh?”
“I don’t know, he just let me keep his change.”
“I think he liked you.”
“What? No.” She smiled in embarrassment.
“Yes, he might come back one day.”
“No, I gave terrible customer service.”
“I doubt you did. He’ll come back.”
Another customer came up to the conveyor belt and set their food down.
Next week, business was slow in the store, so Carina looked down at her phone. She heard a loud thump. A customer set their gallons of water on the conveyor belt. Another customer. Here we go again. But it was him, the man from last week. What should I do? Say something witty or snarky. She was in cashiering autopilot and before she knew it he was gone. What have I done? I can’t multi-task.
“You blew it, Corina. What are you gonna do now?” Hunter asked.
“I don’t know. I guess I’ll have to wait until next week.”
A slow Tuesday came around again and this time, the man came through her line with two canisters of protein powder. She tried to talk to him, but all that came out of her mouth was “Uh–um-ya know. Have a good day.” What was that? I guess I’ll have to try again next time.
“What is happening, Corina. Don’t you want to move on?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, don’t you want to talk to this guy? Get his number?”
“You’ve never been this blatant, Hunter. I like this version of you.”
“This isn’t about me. It’s about you. If you see an opportunity you have to take it.”
“Says the twenty-four-year-old bagger.”
“Hey, stop making this about me. You need to get it.”
Next week rolled around again. I’m going to do it. I don’t know what it is, but I’m gonna do it. I put on some more makeup and washed my hair. I’m ready.
The man walked up to her register once more with a gallon of milk and a box of crackers. She rang in his order, he paid, and she handed him the receipt with her number on it.
“What is this?” the man asked.
“The receipt,” Carina replied.
“Sorry, I’m married. I can’t take this.” He gave the receipt back to her.
“But–You’ve been flirting with me, haven’t you?”
“I’m sorry if I seemed to be leading you on or anything. I was just being nice.”
“Oh, I should have guessed.”
“It’s okay, you’ll find somebody.” The man walked away as he flipped his flowing locks.
“He’s right, Corina,” Hunter said.
“Maybe, but can I make it any more obvious that I’m single and ready to mingle?”
“Honestly, no. I don’t think so.”
When will I find a man? I’ll take any man at this point.
She rang in the next customer’s order and over time lost interest in her work. She quit and tried to find another job, but she had no other skills. Depression hit her hard. Harder than falling face-first onto the pavement. She thought about suicide, but what would that solve?
She eventually found a new job at the local pharmacy as a cashier. It was something, a job.
She fell into her old glaring habits, but at least she was out of the house. I need to do something with my life. Find a man, start a family, anything.
She heard about a few new openings at the pharmacy, a manager and a pharmacist. Either way, she’d have to go back to school and gain some more experience.
She did just that, but she lost motivation in the first half of the first semester. I have to graduate, better myself, and stop being this lame old idiot. So, she trucked on and pushed through the stress, assignments, and tests.
She continued to work at the pharmacy through those four years and looked for a better job after graduation.
After a few months and a few interviews, she found one. A manager at a fast-food joint. But she found herself in the same position. A dead-end job. She looked on the bright side, this was just the beginning. She had opportunities for promotions and she could always go back to school or look for a better job.