This assignment was to write about what my character did for a living. While this never happened, I was influenced by my time spent as a cashier at PetSmart.
The area around my register had been tidied, the various holders offering brochures on dog training, grooming and customer loyalty refilled. The floor had been swept. The end cap displays, enticing customers to buy cheap dog toys and overpriced soda had been cleaned, dusted and refilled. The bins of returned fish tank decorations had been emptied, their contents returned to the shelves. The groomers had been thoroughly chatted to, though they continued to hold their own private conversations in the glass-walled room where they turned mangy mutts into contestants in the Westminster Dog Show.
Who would have thought that no one would want to come buy dog food or a pet hamster at 2 o’clock on a blustery Tuesday afternoon?
The floor crew, at least, could busy themselves with restocking shelves that had been depleted by the customers of the previous week. I had to stay within sight of my register, never mind that there wasn’t a customer in the store.
I saw my manager hurrying from the back office to the cash room—why were managers always hurrying? Were they afraid of getting cornered and asked questions? I smiled weakly at her—I couldn’t decide if I wanted her to set me to a task, or if I didn’t want her to know that I didn’t have anything to do. She eyed me as she unlocked the cash room.
Maybe there was some clutter around some of the other registers. Never mind that Three and Five were only used on busy Saturdays, and Four was basically storage for bags, receipt tape, pens and other sundry items that would otherwise be locked away
My manager emerged from the mysterious vaulted room and headed over to me. She looked around the front of the store, obviously trying find something that I could do.
“Why don’t you go clean the goldfish tanks?” she said, finally. “You can see your register from there, right?”
I nodded glumly. I hated the goldfish tanks. There was a reason I signed on as a cashier, not aquatics, and it had everything to do with the goldfish tanks. Well, that, and the fact that the aquatics day shift had to come in at 4am one day a week to receive new shipments.
Still, goldfish. Nasty creatures. They stunk, for one thing, and make a huge mess of their tank. Plus, it was impossible to clean the tanks without getting all wet and slimy, even when the day wasn’t cold enough to warrant the long-sleeved uniform shirt, the way it was today. And even after the water had dried, the smell remained. Couple that with the nasty coating of gunk that covers the hands after handling money all day. In one word, yuck.
I took my time locating the scrubbers and chemicals needed, pushed my sleeve back as far as it would go, knowing full well that it wouldn’t be far enough, gritted my teeth, then…
The comforting sound of automatic doors opening, accompanied by a blast of cold air and feet stamping the snow off. Customers. The goldfish could wait.