Heather Gioia

Broadside Correspondent

When you were young your parents probably told you to only “speak when you are spoken to.”

You might have been the child that rambled on about everything and nothing, or possibly the child who said nothing whatsoever, even when someone spoke to you.

Even if you were five years old when your parents told you this, the theory still holds: Speak when you are spoken to.

When you place your items on the counter at the grocery store, maybe even pushing them towards the cashier, and your cashier says, “Hi! How are you today?” do not hesitate to answer.

If, by chance, you miss this greeting and your cashier insists on being friendly and again, smiles and says, “Hi! How are you today?” you should respond.

There is no excuse for not responding to a simple friendly greeting. This is especially true if your cashier insists on greeting you twice, thus giving you the benefit of the doubt that you didn’t hear them over the noise in the store.

If you are a people person or up for conversation, this is your chance to make it known before your cashier dives into a conversation about how they love your outfit. A simple, “Fine, thank you,” lacking interest in the cashier’s day (or frankly anything else), is much more acceptable than ignoring the greeting all together.

Bad day causing your standoffish behavior? You are more than welcome to respond with something along the lines of, “Terrible”, or “Terrible, how is yours?”

While your cashier may care less about what is wrong, they will most likely respond with some upbeat comment like, “Oh, I am sorry to hear that. I hope the rest of your day gets better.”

Each cashier varies. You may not always find yourself in the line of the chatty cashier, but on the chance you do and do not feel like talking, please speak when spoken to.

One word answers are acceptable. Head nods and gestures the cashier may not see are not very successful. In many cases, your cashier may be too busy scanning your items, placing everything in a bag or getting your change to notice you shake your head “no” to a question.

In the end, just simply acknowledge the fact that your cashier is making an effort to make a connection with you, the customer—the most important person in the store—and remember what your parents told you when you were young: “You need to speak when you are spoken to.”