Monday, September 14, 2015

Introverts Need Awkward Conversation

I hate going to the grocery store. Hate, hate, hate it. First there are the crowded aisles.



Then there's the mundanity of picking out groceries for the week.



Then there's the fact that I always seem to get the noisy cart.



The only thing that makes it somewhat better is talking to the (usually) friendly cashiers. It's why I go to this store...



Instead of this one...



I went to Publix early Sunday morning, determined to beat the crowd. The aisles were mostly empty, with the exception of a few stock people. One was almost in my way but not quite. 

"Good morning," she said as I reached for the sour cream.

"You're fine," I said, meaning, 'don't bother moving because you aren't in my way.' My comment was met with that awkward silence where you realize what you SHOULD have said was just, 'Good morning' in reply. So I did what any introvert would do...



By the time I arrived at the cash register, I was ready to make less awkward conversation. I stepped up and made a joking comment about the hard work that goes into unloading a cart. The response?



She did not respond. She made not a single comment the entire time she scanned, aside from the usual, "Would you like your meat in plastic bags?" type of questions. I realized in the five or so minutes that it took her to scan my items that if you don't make conversation, the entire checkout process is very, very awkward.



I'm an introvert. I DO like conversation...but I don't feel 100-percent comfortable with it, if that makes sense. I always feel like I'm making a complete idiot of myself.



Do you make idle chitchat when you're at checkout or would you prefer to just stand there in silence?

75 comments:

  1. Harris Teeter is our grocery store of choice.
    I talk to the person scanning my stuff. They almost always chat back at me. When finished, I always tell them to have a blessed day. Most people's eyes light up when they hear that and they respond in kind.

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    1. All the Harris Teeters here have been closing. Not sure why. We didn't have one near where I live anyway. I think they're in wealthier areas?

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  2. Nope, I never talk to the cashiers.... sometimes only with my baker, because I feel sorry for her since she is young and works for terrible money all day long even holidays... and sometimes with the sellers at the green market... but most of them are slightly crazy people... but I do talk to the lady who has a table at the green market and brings me smuggled goodies from Hungary :) I tend to give her ideas on what she could smuggle next for me :)

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    1. Slightly crazy people can be the most interesting!

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  3. Here on the Island, we have a Publix and they are great, always friendly had helpful. They have started hiring some people with special needs for bagging groceries and last week, two of them were having a hard time (arguing about who got to bag) and the cashier was apologetic, but I assured her it was no problem and I thought it was great what they were doing in hiring the baggers.

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    1. I've noticed they employ people with special needs as baggers. One of the many reasons I love Publix! The only thing I miss about my old neighborhood is the Publix--it was brand new and they had the best employees. The Kroger was the Tenth Circle of Hell. Here the Publix is older and the employees aren't nearly as friendly for some reason.

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  4. We shop at Publix, too, and the people are always friendly. I take my cues from the cashier and the bagger - if they want to chat, fine. If not, I'm good with the quiet. :)

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    1. I'm okay with the quiet...I think it was just awkward because the store was fairly empty and we were the only ones in the area...and I bought a LOT of groceries. So it seemed odd to just stand there, not talking. Normally I think I can distract myself with watching all the people nearby!

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  5. I've never even thought about it! I'm not a fan of small talk, but if the cashier says something, I'm happy to respond. What I hate is Target and the constant asking me if I need help. I once told the woman that I was sick and tired of it and she begged me to call and talk to management.

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    1. That is annoying! I'm tired of getting the third degree every time I try to check out somewhere...they seem to always be trying to get your email address, zip code, phone number, charitable donations, store credit card signup, or loyalty program signup. It's exhausting!

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  6. I guess I'm different, I enjoy grocery shopping except for the crowded aisles and the terrible carts. :) I do tend to chat with the cashiers and for the most part, they chat back.

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    1. I wish you could do my grocery shopping for me! Kroger is starting online shopping...and a new store near me will be offering it when it opens next year. I can't wait. You just order your groceries online and drive up to a designated spot, where the put them in your car. I'm all over that!

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  7. I do not normally make idle chitchat but I rather give a smile, sometimes a small smile, sometimes a broad one depending on my mood...lol! Like you, I prefer less crowd because I can take my time to choose what I need and to browse over the items.

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    1. The only problem is, when it's crowded, you'll be more likely to be greeted if employees/stockers are walking around. So then you have to speak back!

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  8. I don't chit chat with cashiers because I'm too busy watching the register to make sure I don't get overcharged for stuff. You'd be surprised how often that happens.

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  9. I usually try to make conversation with people but I notice that in our new neighborhood people at the stores just look at me like I am crazy. Once we get settled I plan on exploring and finding a new store.

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    1. Yeah, it's all about finding the right store. We have two Publix stores within 10 miles, so I can pick...I've only tried the other one once, though, and I used the self checkout that day.

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  10. I sometimes chat at the checkout and sometimes don't, it depends what the cashier's like. You can just tell that some of them hate their job because their face is set like a bulldog chewing a wasp so I don't even try to make conversation with those ones. Some are really friendly though and chat whilst putting your shopping through, they make shopping a much more enjoyable experience.

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    1. It's funny--they don't seem to realize that being rude only makes their jobs more difficult. Far better to just be polite and try to have fun with it.

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  11. nope nope nope. please don't talk to me. at all. I can handle a brief eye contact and smile. But let's not chat and say we did.

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    1. I think the cashier felt the exact same way!

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  12. I say the obvious, hi, thanks, etc. and then I'm out of there. I'll talk if I have something to say, otherwise I'm on my way.

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    1. Maybe it's a Southern thing...it feels polite to make casual chitchat.

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  13. I hate hate hate when strangers start to talk to me, even an innocuous good morning. I never connected it to being an introvert. Profound for me this morning. Must think about this.

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    1. I've come to accept the fact that I'm an introvert after years of fighting it! I thought it meant you just don't talk to people but that isn't it. It's more about whether you get energy from being around other people or from being alone. If you're an introvert, often being around people drains you and you need time alone to recharge.

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  14. Well, some talk and some don't and I just go with the flow. I would strike up a conversation with just about anyone so not a problem for me. We do most of our shopping at Raley's and they are a lot of very friendly folks.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. I haven't heard of Raley's--so many different grocery stores!

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  15. I'm not much for small talk either, but if the cashier says something I will definitely respond back.

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    1. I always do. That was the weird part. If I hadn't said something, I could have seen her being quiet...but I said something and it just hung there in the air...

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  16. This made me giggle because I've *so* been there. What I really hate is the cashier who looks at you like "aren't you going to say something?" when I just smile and stand there. I try to make conversation, but, yeah, I more often than not just try to appear pleasant :)

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    1. Me, too! I've gotten in the middle of an interesting conversation with cashiers, though, where we reach the end of the checkout process and it's time to go...and we weren't finished talking!

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  17. LOL — I'm totally a quiet shopper unless spoken to. They're so fast here (I don't know either Publix or Kroger), NY's speed helps me. By the time I'm done getting everything off the cart, they're done ringing, by the time I'm done paying, the bags are done. Plus, most of the time I have my 4 year old twins with me, so the convos with others never take off unless they're talking to or about the kids lol

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  18. We do make idle chit chat at the cash register; hubby is extroverted and tends to be able to draw people into conversation, even the "tough" ones. We did have a favorite checker outer at a store, would always wait for her line if it was busy, etc. Got to know her pretty well, then we moved. We shop together, hubby and me, to do the majority of our grocery shopping (I tell you its a labor of love on my part as he likes to meander every aisle and I just want in and out of the store) so conversation at the check out line is easy since he initiates it. If I have to run in for a few items, I use self check :)

    betty

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  19. I read the trash magazine headlines, sometimes even picking up a copy of OK! as if I'll be purchasing it. Every once in a while I might blurt something out like, "Holy shit, another baby....popping them out like rabbits. Keep them legs shut you whore...." Then I realize people are watching me. I find it less awkward when people look at you strange for the things you say rather than the things you don't say. LOL

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  20. I never heard of Kroger but Publix brings back memories!! That's the grocery store my grandparents would take me to in Florida when they'd drag me along for their weekly food shopping lol. I liked it there, wish we had some in NY. And I'm more of an idle chit chat person--I know exactly what you mean by those awkward silences...they're the worst!

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  21. Yeah, that's pretty awkward.

    I was on the road, 5 hours from home, and we stopped at a restaurant for brunch. The host sat us down and told us to "have a nice evening." People do that all the time, so I thought no big deal. It's 11 AM, but it was probably just a slip of the mind. Then I heard him telling another couple to "have a great evening." That's when it became kinda funny.

    After brunch, while we were walking out, the same host opened the door for us and said, "You all have a wonderful evening." At that point, I understood that he was on autopilot.

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  22. I like a bit of idle chatter. To my poor husband's embarrassment, I often natter to the people next to me in the theatre - not during the performance, of course, but just 'do you come here often?' 'have you seen this band/actor/author before?' kind of stuff.

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  23. Great post, Stephanie!

    I'm introvert who looks to talk, too. i do try to speak with the checkout people, but I often find they don't get my jokes, don't understand my old movie references, and are supremely uninterested in having a conversation.

    There used to be a lovely woman at my store with whom I'd joke around with all the time, but I haven't seen her in ages and none of the other cashiers seem to know what happened to her. I'm starting to really like those automatic checkout areas.

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  24. Do you know I am literally half extrovert and half introvert. Any tests I have done, including more detailed ones, it always comes up that way. I have to be in the mood. I have done the awkward chat and I have been met with silence. This is when i check my face to make sure I have no freakish things on my nose or anything like that. My hubby has no issues-he just starts to talk away and when i think he has placed his foot into his mouth, people smile and laugh-I have no idea how he does it

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  25. My husband does most of the food shopping. I'm fine with cooking the food, but I don't like shopping for it or thinking of what to make, so he takes care of that part.

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  26. I am friendly with the check-out people, but every customer, especially those that leave their cart in the middle of the aisle, is my enemy.

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  27. Haha I love small talk! It's a southern thing. I just love learning about people's lives. You never know when you'll make a connection down the road!

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  28. How about a trip to manicurist? Small talk is required and for the entire time you're captive in a chair with sticky nails. I only go when there's a wedding and people refer to my nails as "nice claws."

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  29. My partner and I are both introverts. Both uncomfortable conversing with strangers. Just the same, the friendly cashier at our local supermarket always stops to talk, and it makes an unpleasant chore more bearable.

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  30. Totally depends on the situation. I've actually driven several extra blocks to go to the grocery store that has the self check-outs when I really don't want to talk to anyone.

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  31. I will rush in and say the most ludicrous things just to fill any moments of silence. My brain won't be engaged at all.
    I really admire people that are comfortable in almost any situation and think before they open their mouths:)

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  32. This happens to me all the time! Except, the cashiers aren't friendly where I live. When out shopping, I speak only when spoken to and get away with just a polite smile and so forth. I'm not good with people, especially strangers.

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  33. I just stand there silently. Retail stores typically rush their cashiers to be super fast to get people out of the door. They don't typically want to talk.

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  34. I love going to the supermarket.

    I'm not much for chit-chat, but if someone else initiates, I can keep up my end.

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  35. If the person in front of or behind me looks friendly I will chat a little with them...why not? I may make their day, perhaps, at least with a smile and friendly gesture. Many people do their shopping online these days, and yes, including groceries. :) Great post, Stephanie.

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  36. I ignore everyone around me.

    Related story: When I went to the grocery store yesterday, the cashier (who looked like he was about 17) smelled very strongly of booze. I guess he had a fun Saturday night. However, to his credit he was the best grocery bagger I've run across in YEARS.

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  37. It depends on the checker. If he/she smiles or is kind of friendly, I talk. If not, I'm quiet.

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  38. I'm like oh gosh you poor thing!! I'm a one liner Talker at grocery stores but seem to attract people that want more. And I run and yell "that's all I got leave me be!!"

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  39. oh my...I hope things will be better next time..I am a chatty person and I usually chat a lot with people..anytime :)

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  40. I'm a bit of an introvert so I practice with the small chit chat while checking out. But rarely with customers. Just the cashier..

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  41. I can definitely relate to this! I actually don't like shopping unless I can get in and get out. Window shopping is like a nightmare for me, it sets off all of my anxieties and I just want to escape. However, I am quite good at coming across as fairly chilled out when in reality, I'm not, haha, it must be the chit-chat thing! Great post. - Tasha

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  42. Never mind the noisy trolley, why in this day and age can't they develop one in which all the wheels go in the same direction? Great post, unless its shopping for books, bags or candles I'm not a happy shopper either.

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  43. Ohhh I love grocery shopping. The crowds are just a plus!!! Impromptu conversation and mountains of fresh produce are two of my favorite things. :)

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  44. I dislike grocery shopping too, especially if I have to have my Other and kiddo with me. He hates it and she ends up acting up. I try to go during the weekday while they're at school/work. Tends to not be that crowded and I can avoid talking to people if I want. And then I usually hit up the self-check out.
    And I feel you. I always say dumb things only realizing afterwards that they were weird and I have no idea how to save the conversation, so it just goes to awkward silence.
    This was no more evident then when I actually worked as a cashier haha

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  45. It really depends on my mood!

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    1. whether I will make conversation! I am an introvert too!

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  46. I am in complete solidarity w/this post! The grocery store visit is the bane of my week (or banes, b/c I always forget something, it's inevitable, like the tides). And me too, when it comes to idle chit-chat. It always comes out different than what I'd imagined in my head. =(

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  47. I feel like this once in a while and then sometimes I'm a smooth conversationalist. Go figure! :)

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  48. I think I'm like many in that I don't really chit-chat unless the other person starts it. Then I'm perfectly pleasant. I never want to spend long in the supermarket though. In my small town, some people seem to treat it as their weekly gossip catch-up!

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  49. Hope your day has been productive and pleasant.

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  50. i hate the dreaded chitchat when it is forced. i'd rather have silence, then. :)

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  51. For an introvert, I do pretty well with small talk. It's a good thing, too, because I live in a semi-rural county and I can't go to the grocery store without bumping into at least two people I know... so conversation at the grocery store is pretty common for me!

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  52. I tend to babble! I admit it! I was thinking about that the other day, while I don't consider myself outgoing I feel obligated to be social and say hello and make conversation with everyone. I think it is a result of managing restaurants for so many years, it is a part of me I can't turn off.

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  53. I prefer silence. I just say good morning and thank you. I want to get in and out of there fast. I can't stand it when the people in front of me have conversations with the cashier. I'm the one flaring my nostrils, looking angry, and checking to see if I can get in a faster line.

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  54. I chat away. With the cashier, with random stockers, the butcher, random people I see whose shoes I like...In related news, it takes me far longer to go to the grocery store than it probably takes other people.

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  55. Here in Buffalo we have Tops and Wegmans. I actually do talk to the cashier. And I like to give the older folks a smile, and you'd be surprised how their eyes light up.

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  56. I shop at our Co-op and they have over 9000 families shopping there and the staff is so very friendly and helpful and The isles are wide and well stocked with big specials every week. I like shopping on Monday as there are less shoppers as more people shop on Sunday. There's a suggestion box in the entrance where we can put suggestions and they will call to tell you what they will or can do. I love shopping at our Co-op as it member owned. My only problem, I have no more room to store all I buy, lol.

    I always talk to the cashier or any employers and there are all pretty friendly and ready to help.

    The Co-op store is very large has everything for the home except building material and cars. I wish that everyone had such a friendly place to shop. Maybe here in Canada we take being friendly seriously, I don't really know.
    Hugs,
    JB

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  57. It usually depends on my mood. I do try to make the grocery shopping as quick as possible. Sometimes I am in the mood to chat and sometimes I am too tired. I totally get what you mean about the awkward conversations and feeling like an idiot with the small talk. I am constantly second guessing myself and replaying what I said.

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  58. I usually talk, I think. It depends on the cashier. If they're chatty, I'm happy to chat back. I'm friendly and talkative, so it ends up being a gabfest unless they're particularly quiet.

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