Cashier for Checkers Riverside Centre, Rondebosch
Must have Matric
Remuneration: R3000 monthly.
My nametag tells you in black and white that I’m Candice, but who I really am is Candice Willemse from Belhar and I’m much more than the few minutes you spend at the till with me.
Before I was a cashier at Checkers, I worked as a cleaner in the Absa Building in Cape Town. It’s a fancy place with more than 30 floors, where lawyers and accountants and big managers come and go. I would spend most of my time making sure the mirrors in the five elevators shone, so that mister lawyer could make sure his tie was as straight as his shoelaces. Few people notice cleaners, we are kind of invisible, even when you’re stuck in a lift with one for 26 floors.
A cashier is less invisible, though maybe more mute. The people who flow through my till each day think all I say is “Do you want a plastic bag?” or “Cash or card?” really I have a lot more to say than that.
I like this job; I get to spend time analysing people. You can always tell what someone is like by their groceries. This one is a baker; see all the chocolate bars, flour and eggs. The one after is a health freak, buying nuts and fresh fruit. The old people always pay in cash while the students in the queue are either on their cell phones or talking loudly to one another about what happened on campus.
I wonder what campus is like. I’m 22, the same age as many of the students who buy their groceries at this store, but I couldn’t afford to study. I got my matric; it was a proud moment for my family. My sister and her husband, who I live with in Belhar, threw a small party for me when I graduated. But the jobs I’ve managed to get since then, like this one, aren’t exactly mentally stimulating.
Of course I don’t want to be a cashier forever, but for now, it’s all my matric will get me. I am more than just the monotone beep of the scanner and the “cash or card?” I’m doing a computer course at our community centre to upskill myself. I work one weekend a month, but when I’m not working I like to sketch some of the faces I come across during the week. You would know this about me, and more, if you made eye contact with me and used my name, so clearly printed on my nametag. But you don’t. You unpack your trolley of cans, milk, bread and dogfood, I scan them, you pay and leave and don’t give Candice a second thought.
My name is Candice Willemse from Belhar, and I’m much more than the few minutes you spend at the till with me.
This blogpost is a work of fiction and forms part of the #Writersbootcamp currently running for the month of July.