Supermarket politeness

Posted by Marion de Groot on May 24, 2009

Almost every cashier girl at our supermarket here in Amsterdam is of foreign, non-western descent. I put my groceries on the conveyor belt and as soon as the girl starts scanning my products, she says Hello, while hardly looking at me. When it's time to pay, she softly mentions the amount, as if talking to herself, while her staring eyes tell me it must have been a rough day. As she hands me the receipt, her attention is already at the next groceries to scan. I used to think this all was because these girls were unmotivated teenagers.

Once the general manager of that supermarket must have wanted to improve their service level. Two blond Dutch girls were hired, who were very cheerful and always made eye contact when they said 'Good afternoon' with a smile. I was very surprised, because I wasn't even used to making eye contact with the cashier girls anymore.

Later I was at a Turkish supermarket. There, the people at the counter were an adult Turkish man and woman. But they also made very little eye contact, and only said the 'compulsory' Hello, the amount to pay, Thank you and Bye.

Then I thought, maybe it is a cultural difference. Maybe these people find it correct not to make eye contact. Or is it because I'm not 'one of them'? At the supermarkets in China the cashiers would not even say hello, even to Chinese people. They just do their job. Period.

Is it typical Dutch/western to expect a cashier to make eye contact, smile and say hello? And why should they, if they do their job right…

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1 Comment to Supermarket politeness

  • It is just up to your own interpetation. Indeed they just do their job. In usa people ask “hi, how are you ding today?” and smile to you. At first i found that fake, since they are not really interested in you. Though after staying there a while, i came back to the netherlands and found the service to be rude. I missed the smile people (artificially) bring on their face. On the end a smile never make me feel bad.

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