Dear Safeway, Albertson’s, Lucky’s, and the Like:
While I appreciate the care and service of your cashiers trying to be “personal,” of which more anon, what gives your company the right to have these clerks address me by name when I haven’t offered so much as an introduction or a handshake? That isn’t exactly personal, is it? I speak of these Super Saver Cards that clutter my wallet and the transactions that involve swiping a credit card through a machine, thereby giving your clerk several pieces of personal information (and who knows what else) with which to launch an impromptu conversation entailing some three seconds of labor? When in fact it’s quite likely I’ll never see the clerk again.
Who was the marketing wizard who decided that this breach of privacy needed to go down just after I paid a fortune in groceries, with the “Thank you, Mr. Champion” timed as I am being handed a longass receipt that resembles a slightly wider version of 1930s tickertape? Is the implied message here that you not only know who I am, but that your stores are giving me a paper noose with which to hang myself? Is this some odd homage? Am I meant to leap out of a building like those unlucky businessmen wrangling with the ironic coda to the Roaring Twenties? Is the message here that I can never win? That even if I were to bring in cash you would, by some technological marvel, figure out who I am and still salute me with the invasive words? “Thank you, Mr. Champion.”
I mention this because sometimes I have come in with cash, and I have denied the existence of my Super Saver Card. This has resulted in a mystified expression from the clerk and often considerable alarm. I am then pressured to sign up for a Super Saver Card. I decline. I am asked again. I decline again, even when I know it will save me about $2.67 in my current purchases. This has happened several times, irrespective of the length of the line. What makes the decision creepier is that the clerk actually stops sliding items across his scanner just to ask me this pivotal question, which is apparently important enough to supercede all other service. Sometimes I fear that if I do not produce the Super Saver Card, the clerk will call management. Nevertheless, I hold out. After a brief impasse, the clerk then scans the final few items, but not without slamming a can of tomato sauce hard against the slick plastic surface, as if to suggest that because I have not exercised my Super Saver Card option, I have dramatically inconvenienced him, if not caused irreparable injury to his work ethic, pride and reputation.
Who was the madman that spawned this code of deportment? And why should “Mr. Champion” and Super Saver Cards matter so much? Most businesses would be proud to recoup an additional $2.67 that I choose to give to you out of a strange combination of laziness and concern for civil liberties. But your respective stores have actually taken umbrage because your profit margin is lesser.
Or to put it another way, what the fuck?
Confused and terrified of the American shopping experience,