Seriously? Did You Just Do That?

I was in the grocery store last week when an incident took place I just can't shake.

I had gathered all the needed groceries in my cart, stood in line at the check-out stand, and it was finally my turn to be rung up by the cashier.

Midway through scanning my items, the cashier sneezed.

This was no ordinary sneeze, this was a big, wet, clearly-sick, juicy, snot-spraying, completely un-contained sneeze.  It scattered mucus particles all over my groceries.

Did I mention a lot of what I was buying was produce?

(Being on a healthy eating kick, and all ….)

Um, gross?

As I recoiled in revulsion, the cashier just went right on scanning my groceries.  She didn't apologize, say "excuse me" or even acknowledge she had just sprayed my fruit and vegetables with a coating of germy green slime.

I felt my stomach turn, and I resisted the urge to bolt from the store leaving all the groceries behind, unpaid for.

It got worse, if that's possible, before I left.

Once all my items were scanned, I paid using my bank card.

While the transaction was processing, the cashier grabbed a kleenex and began blowing her nose.

This was no ordinary nose blowing.

This was a BIG.DEAL. 

It began with actual nose blowing (of epic proportions), and concluded with fingers slightly covered with tissue digging deep into her nostrils in search of giant morsels.

I tried to look away, but the horror I was witnessing kept me riveted.

Suddenly, she tossed the snot-covered tissue into a trashcan at her feet, grabbed my receipt out of the cash register with her unwashed hands, and handed it to me saying, "Have a nice day."

She immediately began processing/handling the grocery order of the woman behind me in line.  She never washed her hands or used any type of hand sanitizer.  

It's now a week later and I still can't seem to scrub the horror of the experience from my brain cells.

What would you have done?

Should I have refused the groceries?

Should I have made a comment to her?

Should I have reported the disgusting-ness to her boss?

© Twenty Four At Heart

31 Responses to “Seriously? Did You Just Do That?”

  1. Lynda M Otvos

    yikes, 24. I am grossed out just reading it.
    Put produce in bags as you pick it up from the bin. At home then wear gloves (disposable) to offload it into sink where it is all immediately washed with hot soapy water and only then stowed in your kitchen.
    Sounds like a lot of hassle and a waste of plastic produce bags but hers was a pretty serious transgression in the sanitation field.

  2. Pseudo

    I think you should have said something. Not that I would have either, but I would have wished I had…

  3. Jan

    How about all three?
    What did you do with the groceries once you got home?

  4. Karen

    AAAck!!… I usually don’t say anything, but I would have scrubbed everything when I got home. And you would have had a right to refuse the groceries and walk out. GROSS!

  5. Deidre

    I may have said “you know, they’re teaching kids in school these days to sneeze into their elbows so that the germs don’t get on their hands…what do you think about that?”
    I probably wouldn’t have. But I would have thought it.

  6. karen

    Speak with cashier. that’s not just cuz i’m i a surprisingly more outgoing-even-though-i-have-anxiety phase right now either!we need to wash our hands after the bathroom, this is no different.
    “Dude, wash your hands and check you sneezes, really I don’t accept plague with what i am paying for groceries.”

  7. di

    I would have said something to her and then asked to see the manager so that he can give few lessons to his cashiers in the proper way to deal with a sneeze and nose blow.
    Totally gross out situation.
    P.S. People with colds should just stay home!!

  8. Chantel

    I would have probably paid for my groceries then went straight to the manager. That is absolutely disgusting and even worse if she called out sick and was asked to come in anyway.
    I have never encountered this at the grocery store. Does your store offer self checkout? I use this all the time now.

  9. cindy w

    Ok, I’m kind of split on this, because on the one hand: eww. Yes, absolutely disgusting.
    But on the other hand, I tend to feel sorry for people working in minimum wage jobs, because it’s not like grocery store cashiers get benefits and paid sick days, you know? So she was probably at work because she had no other choice. Which makes me feel sorry for her, but then again, you know… she DID slime your veggies.
    Ugh. I don’t know what I’d do, honestly.

  10. Joanne

    thanks for a new produce phobia! (kidding). I would have stopped the whole ordeal at the second sneeze, and refused to touch anything without being offered a sanitizer. Then I woulld have gone straight to the store manager, and complained that they let obviously sick individuals handle everyone’s FOOD!
    I had a girl that worked in my salon who would come to work REEEEEally sick, and complain that she was to broke to stay home. then one os us would get it, and ,of course, a few of her clients…. Notice I said HAD a girl???

  11. Nancy @ The Wife of a Dairyman

    I would have said something to her boss….not in a mean way but just an informative way. I once worked with a hairdresser who turn from her client, grab a tissue and proceed to blow her nose Hard right at her client’s chair and then go right back to cutting hair…..disgusting and not one of her clients ever said anything to her {I didn’t either}.

  12. Kelly

    Disgusting! But then who knows who has handled our produce before we get it and whether or not they EVER wash their hands. Hows that for a disgusting thought?

  13. Jess

    My next step would have definitely been to the manager on duty. That’s so unacceptable as someone who is handling OTHER PEOPLE’S FOOD! I wish there were health code violations that could be obtained by the hygiene of grocery workers sometimes.
    This very story is the reason I usually only stop at grocers who offer self-checkout registers. If I’m the only one touching my food, then only my mucus spray will get on my romaine lettuce.

  14. WebSavvyMom

    –>I would have told her that you would bag your own groceries and keep the receipt. When she asked why – – tell her that her hands are covered in germs and touching your FOOD. GROSS!

  15. Jill

    After living in India for the past 2 years – with far worse things than this – I am not so much grossed out as I am appalled that her register didn’t have wet wipes, antibacterial anything, and that she had no manners to turn her head, apologize, whatever.
    I would expect this kind of stuff from a 3rd world country. NOT from a grocery store in So Cal!!

  16. Amy_in_Stl

    Ugh, I would have said something like, “Um, did you just sneeze all over my groceries?” I have no tolerance for that kind of thing; it’s nasty. If she didn’t make some kind of apology and offer to rectify the situation, I would have called for the manager. Ew.

  17. Susan @ DreamSakes

    I would have whipped out one of the many portable hand sanitizer bottles from my purse and handed it to her saying “here ya go honey…I think you need this more than I do.”

  18. missy

    That is one of the many things I love about Trader Joe’s – most produce is in containers. That was a horrible story and I probably would have chatted with the manager.

  19. Fragrant Liar

    Ick. The words, “Get your supervisor over here,” spring to mind. That’s enough to make me wash my hands of that store…

  20. LPC

    I would have said, “I’m sorry, I don’t feel comfortable taking home these vegetables, given that you just sneezed on them. Can I please go and replace them? Thank you very much.”

  21. ocshannon714

    Being the passive aggressive type that I tend to be, I would have politely taken my groceries. Then I would have closed the door to my car, and called the store manager ASAP. I’m a big chicken, but she needs to know that her “snotting” all over the place didn’t go unnoticed.

  22. DuchessOmnium

    Almost exactly that happened to me last winter. Luckily I hadn’t bought a lot of produce but mostly things in packages. I said to the cashier, I hope you feel better soon, but maybe you shouldn’t be at work with a cold like that! (And I wondered if it was swine flu)
    And when I got in the car, because I had touched my own groceries putting them in the bag (you have to bag your own here), I cleaned my hands with the hand sanitizer I always carry with me. And when I got home I wiped all the packets with antibacterial wipes.
    (My mother used to say I was a very fastidious young woman. I am not sure what she says now I am into late middle age — probably a very fastidious fuddy duddy.)
    If someone had sneezed on my lettuce I think I would have washed it with that sterilizing fluid you wash baby bottles with. But then, because I don’t think you should swallow that stuff either, I would have washed it again with nice clean water.
    Yep. Fastidious fuddy duddy.

  23. Kristen

    Ick for sure….but not too get too gross…we have no idea who touches the produce before we get to the store. Anyone who has touched _anything_ could have picked up that apple and put it back before you got there. I try not to think about that. And seeing it happen to the stuff you are for sure taking home is intense.
    I think I wouldn’t have the guts to say anything, but I think I would have the guts to just have her toss the receipt instead of give it to you. (I just read an article saying that receipts have a ton of BPA in them, so handling them is bad for you, snot or not.)
    All around gross.

  24. Nancy P

    Well I am a whimp and avoid any sort of uncomfortable confrontation so I probably would not have said anything. But ewwwww

  25. Jane

    Kristen is correct, anyone could have touched the produce before you put it in your cart (and probably did) but the point is YOU DIDN’T WITNESS IT! EWWWWWW!
    I used to be pretty “wimpy”, but now I’m “hefty!” I would have walked right out and then called the manager on the phone. I also wouldn’t go back to that store for awhile. Not my place to say anything to snotty nose cashier person. Let her manager deal with it.
    It’s not just the germs that landed all over your food, it’s that you had to stand there and WATCH the whole thing! I think I’m going to go puke a little now. 🙂

  26. Poppy

    This is a wonderful reminder to us all to clean the hell out of our produce! Who knows who is doing what to it before it reaches our home! Bleh.

  27. Freda

    Something similar happened to me at the hairdresser – and it was hard, but luckily I didn’t catch anything, she maybe had hayfever. Your experience is much worse. Don’t know what I would have done. Fretted probably and done nothing.

  28. Rob

    On the other hand, you could have paid $50+ to be be vaccinated.
    She gave you one for free!
    Germs can kill you. Your body has evolved to combat them.
    Most times you will win.
    Other things can kill you way faster, but you already know that.
    Getting in a car and driving has a better chance of killing us than almost practically anything else.


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