What Happens When You Don’t Get What You Want? A Lesson in Attitude

In the Walmart Checkout Line

A mother and her teenage daughter stood in front of me in the express lane of my local Walmart. With her cart still full of items and the conveyor belt already full, it was clear the cashier took the customer as an exception to the 20 items or less rule.

Standing behind her with Addie in my cart, I honestly didn’t mind the wait to pay for my few items. I didn’t have anywhere to be and, for the time being, Addie was content.

The customer in front of me was not content, however. Within a short time, I could hear loud sighs coming from the mother as her daughter stood nearby. Apparently, the mother was disappointed in the speed at which the cashier was going and felt the need to share via loud sighing. Continuing to load the conveyor belt with more items, the mother kept trying to catch my eye so she could roll her eyes in the cashier’s direction, bringing me into her exasperation and distaste.

Meanwhile, the cashier, one I’ve had several times before, scanned and bagged the items at a steady pace. However, instead of leaving the filled bags on the turnstile, the cashier brought the bagged items back onto the conveyor belt. Catching my eye while taking one of the bags, the mother rolled her eyes, sighed, and gave me a “can you believe this?” look.

By the time she paid, the mother in front of me had dropped all pretense of patience and forbearance and was snippy with the cashier as she took her receipt and left. As I pulled out my credit card to pay for my few items, I saw the cashier close her eyes, take a deep breath, and decide in that moment to leave the negative experience with the previous customer in the past and focus on me and my order. She smiled at me, asked me how my day was going, and gave me my receipt.

I left the store thinking of the valuable lesson the experience taught me.

What happens when we give the kind of treatment we’d like in return (patience, understanding, compassion, affection, time) and don’t receive the same in turn?

Do Unto Others…

I could sympathize with the customer in front of me. She had gone through the stress and time of doing a large shopping trip only to be met by a peculiar and long-lasting cash register experience. (I think we all know what that can feel like.) But I couldn’t completely understand her rude and obvious reaction to the experience. Her loud sighs and negative body language made both her daughter and me uncomfortable – to say nothing of how the cashier seemed to feel after the encounter was over.

I could also sympathize with the cashier. I don’t know how long she’d been at the register, but having spent some time behind the checkout line counter, I know it’s a tiresome job. I’ve had impatient and rude customers that have ruined the remainder of my shift. I could even understand that she thought maybe the customer would be happier to place her own filled bags in her cart since she was standing far from the bag turnstile.

In the end, it was the cashier’s response to the situation that uplifted me and encouraged me. It was the cashier’s treatment of another human being I’d prefer to emulate and experience.

If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. |

It All Comes Down to Attitude

We all have different preferences. It makes my day bright when a cashier greets me with a smile and makes eye contact – it doesn’t matter much to my husband. I use texting as a sort of voicemail, with no immediate attention needed – others use texting to get responses faster. The “Golden Rule” is a beautiful principle, but things can get dicey in the application.

Consider, instead, treating others with humanity, respect, kindness, mercy, and generosity. Not because that’s what they “deserve” or that’s what the situation calls for. But because they are human, just like you.

As the saying goes, you can’t always choose your circumstance, but you can always choose your attitude. Choose to have a forgiving, kind, merciful, and generous attitude and you just might have a better time in the Walmart checkout line.

What happens when your blessing is someone else’s trial? Read about my eye-opening paradigm shift here.

You can't always choose your circumstances, but you can always choose your attitude. |

What’s your biggest checkout line pet peeve?

6 thoughts on “What Happens When You Don’t Get What You Want? A Lesson in Attitude

  1. Maya Angelou was keen and acute including so many of her quotes. So happy that you brought and put one of hers in this post. I’ve always felt the need to be civil and give the same kind of attitude that I would like to get in return. Thank you so much for this post Jen!

    1. Maya Angelou was a phenomenal woman indeed. And being civil is a great way to put the kind of attitude we should have with everyone – even those who don’t necessarily return the civility. Thank you for stopping by!

  2. I wish everyone lived by the golden rule to always treat others the way you wish to be treated. Being in customer service for over 20 years now I know how rude customers can be to cashiers.

    1. When I was a cashier there were some customers who were just plain rude. It motivated me to ring up their order faster, more accurately, and try to apply any coupons/deals to their order. I hoped that I could save the next customer service person from their upset attitude by “killing them with kindness.”

    1. Maya Angelou has such great, insightful quotes. Thank you for the book recommendation! I’ve added it to my Goodreads to-read list. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Tamara.

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