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Recently, I was in a line at the supermarket where the person ahead of me took nearly 10 minutes to resolve a payment issue with their order (usually, payment takes 30 seconds to a minute). When that was finally taken care of, the cashier started scanning my items and said "thanks for waiting."

How do I respond to that? I feel like I could say "oh, it's no problem", but it was a problem. I was rather inconvenienced and was late to my next appointment. I don't want to be rude, but is there any way that I can be polite and prevent awkward silence without saying that the delay didn't bother me?

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  • I'm voting for this to be closed as off topic because this looks like a request for help with phrasing. What are you trying to achieve with your response? – sphennings Jul 23 '18 at 1:32
  • @sphennings I've clarified that I'm wanting to be polite and avoid awkward silence without saying that the delay didn't bother me. – Thunderforge Jul 23 '18 at 1:52
  • This still looks like a request for help with phrasing, rather than a question about an interpersonal skill. – sphennings Jul 23 '18 at 1:55
  • @sphennings I think that it's about expressing their feelings about the situation. Phrasing is a part of that, but I wouldn't say it's the only part. The question relates to the proper response, including attitude, expectations, as well as proper expression of those things. – Upper_Case Jul 23 '18 at 1:59
  • @sphennings Do you have suggestions for how I could improve this question so that it will be on-topic? – Thunderforge Jul 23 '18 at 2:26
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There isn’t much the cashier could have done in that situation. They were probably following instructions to keep the tone positive instead of saying something like, “Sorry to keep you waiting.” It’s also unlikely that extended interaction with the cashier would help with your next meeting. Further, it doesn’t sound like the cashier’s fault that the previous shopper took so long.

As such, the most constructive thing to do would be to acknowledge the cashier’s acknowledgement of the delay by smiling and replying with a simple “Thank you.”

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Comments like this are more social lubricant than genuine expressions of sentiment. The natural response is similar, along the lines of "it's OK", as stated in the question.

If you don't like the fact that the comment doesn't represent the truth, you can respond with something that is true but still anodyne:

There wasn't much you could have done.

or

It happens.

or even

[Shrug] Meh.

The important element to remember is that you still have to go through the interaction with the person you're dealing with. If it's your personal assistant you're talking to, then sure, their job is to care about your schedule and your convenience and you can express that they fell short. In most interactions (like a cashier at a supermarket) that's not the case.

They are expressing their acknowledgement and regret that you were inconvenienced, not their personal responsibility for your schedule running smoothly. You, in turn, acknowledge the situation as well. You're not telling anyone that you are totally fine with delays or personal inconvenience. Even if you said "it's fine", no one would interpret that that as your actually not caring about the wasted time.

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I would thank you the cashier as a token compliment.

Ultimately it is not her fault the supermarket accepts credit cards, does not have money-only queues, and does not have established procedures to pass on problematic payments to a PR queue and/or open another queue to process a stopped queue.

She is just doing her job.

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