First Come The Bananas
Copyright 2018 by Anker Fanoe
tale chronicling the average experience of a customer service
come the bananas.
yellow rack of fruit moves slowly down the belt, undeterred by the
overhead loop of Toto’s Africa.
Bruised, soft and mushy: clearly, last choice on the shelf. Behind it
follows a large navel orange, and behind the navel orange an avocado.
94012. 4225. Real rookie stuff. I punch in the codes.
up, common grocery. Canned tuna. Chocolate chip cookies. Condoms.
Easily scannable but boring.
you need bags today?” I ask the old lady
no no. I brought my own.” She pulls the bags from her purse.
continue to scan, punch in codes, scan, punch in codes. Uh oh.
search my complacent memory to find the code, but, alas, nothing
comes of it; surely I made a note of it in my notebook. I pull the
blue covered, torn-to-shreds pack of paper from my apron but here too
I find only disappointment. The lady’s patience begins to wane.
is going on?” She asks.
can’t remember the code for turmeric, it’s just going to
be a second.”
could you please try your best to hurry?”
a last resort, I pull out the guidebook. Ah. 94918.
about that. Would you like to deduct or donate the bags today?”
much is the donation?”
point to her bags and look her in the eye. “5 cents. If you
bring in your own bags, you can either deduct 5 cents from your bill
or donate the 5 cents.”
who are you donating to?”
Scotts Valley Educational Foundation.”
furrows her eyebrows with a scowl. “Oh, Jesus. Doesn’t
our government spend enough on education as it is? Why do I pay all
of these god damned taxes? No, hell no.” She shakes her head.
Your total is--“
if the schools need that much money why don’t you ask your CEO
to pocket some of his change? That should be more than enough. The
rest of us can’t afford such things. For christ’s sake.”
stare at the monitor and sigh. “Your total is $74.23.”
hands over the cash and leaves without saying another word.
the register I can see the sunset as it falls beneath the eucalyptus
trees and tiled buildings. Already 8:30 at night. All I can look
forward to is going home. Going home to my partner who laughs at
every one of my stupid jokes. Going home to my jigsaw puzzle and my
TV. Going home to silence. Going home.
time of the night, things are real slow. For a brief moment, I forget
about why I am even here. What
am I doing here? Suddenly,
I have an anxiety attack. Decayed thoughts tumble in my head until I
am found deep within myself, lost beneath the surface of my own
self-conscience. Daily routines eat away at my happiness, bullied by
doubts and senseless purpose. When my boss calls for my name, I snap
out of it.
are your work shoes?”
yeah… I’m sorry. I left them in my girlfriends car, so I
had no choice but to throw these on.” I explain to her as we
stare down at my white, dirtied Adidas.
Well make sure you bring those next time.”
wipe sweat from my forehead as she walks away. How could I have
forgotten about the work shoes?
you awful, horrible person. How could you have forgotten your work
shoes?” A voice from behind me sounds. It’s Jake, one of
my favorite coworkers.
guess I’m just the absolute worst.” I say grinning.
late are you here until?”
What about you?”
same here.” He remarks with disappointment.
pervades the front of the store, dripping with the distilled scents
of the meat and bakery departments. Assorted flowers from Mother’s
Day are wilting just outside of the automatic doors.
Jake.” I say as I turn around.
you see the latest episode of Game of Thrones?”
man.” He responds. “Ridiculous.”
again, silence. Populating the grocery store are brand new
advertisements displaying the new technological advancements put in
place for use in conjunction with shopping. I wonder to myself how
long we have to be cashiers within human history. Soon enough, there
will surely be A.I. to handle all of this. Maybe it’s for the
best; I question whether or not people are supposed to live like
this. Whether or not we are supposed to be pent up in this place for
hours on end. Whether or not we are supposed to be yelled at for
simply existing, a punching bag for all of the other frustrated
people that step into our lines each and every day.
guess I would like to think that people are capable of being nice to
one another. I would like to think it possible to live in a world
where balance wins the day. I remember of all the times a friendly,
giving customer has come through the store; all of the interesting,
fascinating characters that have graciously donated anything they
could and have showed genuine interest not only in themselves but in
who I am as well: that I am not only one of the faceless, one of one
million grocery store cashiers. I have a life, a background and a
personality. Each and every day I stand here for eight hours or more
to make ends meet, but I go to a home and I come from a home in which
I pursue other interests, hobbies and experiences. As I stood there,
I questioned: is this all worth it?
seemingly coming out of nowhere, another comes up to the belt. The
cart is completely full: filled to the brim with rotisserie chickens,
hard liquor, delectable grains, granolas, goats’ cheese,
grapes, and various other items most of us could never afford. The
man begins to place his things upon the never-ending scroll.
come the bananas.
Fanoe is a sophomore at UC Santa Cruz. He is a cashier at Whole Foods
Market and enjoys spending time with his partner Maddie in Santa Cruz
while reading, writing, and watching film
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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