Hannah Gichard

The Things We Buy

A toddler is crying hysterically, he looks at me with alarming desperation and urgency saying, “Please!! I NEED a candy bar!!!”

As I ring up a couple’s groceries, we chat about how cold the weather has been lately.
“At least it’s stopped snowing!” the husband cheerfully remarks. Then I notice he is blind.

A little girl is talking to me about her cat and dog at home as she and her mother buy pet supplies. “My cat doesn’t like my brother!” she tells me

A man brings a group of Chinese exchange students presumably staying with him to buy some items. They try to pay with the exact change but get a little confused with the American currency. I help them get to 29 cents.

A woman and her young boy are buying several items. The boy is hyper and is trying to reach over and scan all the items himself. I laugh, but he is getting on his mother’s nerves. Then the boy asks me, “Can I scan my EYEBALL??” I laugh and say sure. His mother says to him, “You’d probably be on clearance”.

A couple of other exchange students are buying a few items. One of them buys some Coke and deodorant and says to me “I am from Sweden! Here is my ID!”

The way different people’s hands feel when giving them change: bony fingers that tremble in their raisin-like, loose veiny skin; young kids whose hands feel like warm Play-Doh; blue-collar husbands whose meaty palms are like cracked cement

Two men buy 29 boxes of Christmas lights and 1 bottle of Skol vodka

I tell an older lady her total. She sets a blank, signed check in front of me

and asks me to fill it in for her. Her hands are shaking from uncontrollable tremors.

A young boy buys himself some candy. The total is a little over a dollar. He gives me two dollars, winks, and says “keep the change”. I ask him, “are you sure? It’s 19 cents!”, and he says, “guess it’s your lucky day!”

Many people bring in their own reusable bags, they carry a smell with them so I get a idea of what their home must smell like.

A skinny 10-year-old girl with messy hair reaches for her change. She has a French manicure.

A woman pays and starts to leave with her groceries. I wave goodbye to her toddler daughter sitting in the front of the cart. “Say thank you!” the mom says to the daughter. The mom then turns to me and says, “She’s mute, but she can hear,” and I smile at the little girl and the little girl raises her hands and signs “thank you”.

I am bagging a woman’s groceries and she starts putting the bags back in her cart.
I notice she only has half of one arm. I start helping her.

Three teenage girls are each buying the same tshirt and floral mini skirt, but each in different colors and patterns.

I ask a woman to see her driver’s license for the alcohol she is buying. Her toddler overhears and he says, “I have a drivers license!!” “Oh really?” his Mom says as her and I both laugh. The little boy continues, “It’s got my NAME on it!”

One woman buys a basket full of miscellaneous items. She has a coupon for every single one.

A boy is buying himself a toy. The total comes to 27 dollars. He shakes his head, pulls a out a wad of bills, reaches up to hand them to me and says, “guess I’ll have to give ya the whole bank!”

People of all ages who competitively try to guess what their total will be: teenage couples, parents, children, and they all watch in anticipation as the numbers change with each thing I ring up, then yelp with joy or “awww” with disappointment when the final total is reached.

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