Once in a while I get coffee from a nearby shop. Lot of times, the ladies at the counter are rude; especially to me, because I look like a soft target. Really, I am not confrontational unless I am at the end of my rope (on a side note, my co-workers were surprised when I was assertive and nearly aggressive with our local tax department a year back, but anyway)

What happened was: I was slowly putting change in my purse, and I even said "pardon me" to the lady behind me in the line. Because I was taking too long, the cashier said impatiently, "Ma'am, please move aside", while she was taking the food from the lady behind me (to ring her up). When I returned the receipt, the lady rudely said, "the garbage is right there". Usually, most cashiers would take the receipt for me.

Because I tend to be on slow side (especially if I'm tensed about sometime), people see me as soft target. But on the flip side, sometimes people are nice and patient (mostly males who are interested in friendship or something else, but that is another thread).

Kind of reminds me of this scene from English-Vinglish (with late Bollywood actress Sri Devi).

If I have said "Have a blessed day, would this have humbled her, perhaps offering me an apology? Please note, I also wish to be in and out, but I don't like rudeness!!!

How to respond to this cashier being assertive, but without being rude?

  • I'm second generation of Indian, and this happens in the USA, if that is relevant
  • In this particular shop, cashier is required to print receipt. Lot of time, people will return receipt, so this is common. Next to cashier is a bunch of receipts stacked up from customers who don't need receipt.
  • 3
    @ArtieLadie FYI generally shops will print 2 versions of receipts, one for the customer and one for the stores records. The stacked receipts are (usually) the stores copy so that they can look through them and reference any orders that have come through recently in case a customer claims that an order was placed incorrectly (or something similar).
    – Link0352
    Apr 18, 2018 at 13:35
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    I'm voting to close this question because it's still asking "What should I do?" Such questions aren't a good fit for this site. @ArtieLadie If you edit this question to indicate what your goal is when responding to this cashier this could be turned into an on topic question.
    – sphennings
    Apr 18, 2018 at 21:07
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    I have to say, I still feel that this is, at heart, a "What should I do?" question. You still need to explain what sort of information a reply should contain, and what your goal would be.
    – HDE 226868
    Apr 19, 2018 at 1:34
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    Answering the question of what you hope to achieve by responding to her should change this from "what should I do" to a more answerable question
    – Jesse
    Apr 19, 2018 at 6:48

3 Answers 3


I'm going start by challenging this a little bit. There are a couple of things to keep in mind. Each of the two parties in an interaction have their perspective and desired goal of the interaction. Yours, in this instance, is to receive your coffee and be treated politely. The cashier's, on the other hand, is to serve as many people as possible with as few distractions as possible. Keeping that in mind, the cashier saw your behavior as limiting what they needed to do - serve more customers - by being slow with an activity that they did not need to have done in front of them.

I'm not trying to justify rudeness, but to illuminate a point. Knowing that your activity was possibly impolite to not only the cashier but those in line behind you, is humbling the cashier the course of action you want to take?

I've found that some people are deliberately rude, but more often than that people are sometimes direct and deserve the benefit of the doubt. Generally others don't need me humbling them; that's arrogance on my part. Others deserve to be treated with grace and dignity and I hope from that that they will do the same to others. So how do I interact with rude people? By trying to bless them.

I will smile and be polite and won't respond to what I see as rudeness with my own rudeness. I try to respect others and treat them with dignity. How would I respond to this cashier? If they asked me to move over so they could serve the next customer, and I needed nothing else from them, I would smile, apologize, and move over. It costs me nothing and helps those behind me. How would I respond to "the trash is over there"? I would smile, say "thank you" and throw my receipt in the trash. Life is too short to be bothered by small acts like this.

Now, if someone were to be really, truly, rude and unpleasant with me after my attempts to be nice to them, I'd take a different stance. If it's someone in a customer service position who was nasty, I'd speak politely to the manager and explain the interaction to them.


There was a time when businesses mostly subscribed to the idea that "the customer is always right". In fact in French the equivalent expression is "the customer is royalty" (although whether or not they believe that is also subject matter for another thread!) You would not have been treated like this in the days when businesses knew they had to court your custom and then keep it.

Unfortunately today, certainly in western countries, there are two reasons this no longer happens. Firstly, the people you deal with are rarely the business owners, are often poorly paid in the service industry, and so do not particularly care about the success of the business overall (although this is shortsighted of them). Secondly though, many businesses today are built on a "model" and everybody is expected to know what that model is and play along with it - for example, a supermarket where you have to scan your own shopping instead of dealing with a cashier; or a restaurant where you order at a counter instead of receiving table service and have to collect your own cutlery. As well as customers having expectations of how businesses ought to treat them, businesses also now have expectations of how their customers behave in order to maximise their profits.

It seems that this coffee shop has a model of serving people quickly and getting rid of them. You noted that even the other customers seem to expect this. Given that they want to move their customers along as quickly as possible and you have come to expect this, it seems reasonable that you would cooperate with this as much as is reasonably possible by having your payment ready when asked etc. But if you don't want the receipt, I would advise not to accept it on the first place - then you don't have to try and give it back. While they may say they are "required" to print a receipt, there is no legal requirement to force it into your hand.

When they offer a receipt, try saying:

I don't need a receipt, thank you.


Could you please recycle that for me?

I would use this latter response because mentioning recycling wins you some moral highground points! Of course you don't want to come over as morally superior, but it is simple irrefutable logic that they cannot argue with: printing a receipt that you don't want is environmentally unfriendly enough, but telling you to throw paper in the trash is worse.

Regarding your parting words - I love the expression "Have a blessed day" and it says a lot about your good character! I live in the UK, and I have never heard this expression used verbally. Am I correct in saying that this is a common expression in your own culture, but perhaps less common in the country in which you live? If so it could be taken, in ignorance, to be sarcastic. After all the person has just been rude to you, and they likely know it. It is rather like saying "thank you" to someone who hasn't helped you at all is clearly sarcastic. So while I hate telling you to ditch something that may be your culture, if you really do not want to be rude you may wish to consider a more colloquial expression such as "have a nice day".

I hope this helps, and have a blessed day!

  • I like the recycling comment. Really love it. Also, lot of people in my metropolitan city (our particular area) say "have a blessed day" Apr 19, 2018 at 12:26

This does sound unnecessarily rude to me. Obviously it's nice not to block the next customer while you put your money away (I would probably move a bit sideways to give the next customer a chance), but there was no need for the "Ma'am, please move aside". And "the garbage is right there" is something that should never have been said.

How to avoid this: Mostly by being self-confident, and projecting that you are not somebody to be messed with. Body stature and the right clothing will help. Standing and walking straight.

How to react: The first one can be ignored. Just say "just a second" and put your money away. Although it is nicer to be aware of customers behind you and not blocking them. The garbage remark: There are probably differences between US and UK language. In the UK, there would be a very sharp "excuse me", one that doesn't say "sorry" but "what did you just say there", followed by a very fake smile, handing your receipt to the person, and asking them to put it away for you.

  • Yes, I could have said, "just one second". And I could have ignored the garbage statement. See, this is quite helpful indeed. Apr 19, 2018 at 12:27

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