Trina Machacek: Biting my tongue

First of all, it took me three, yes, three tries, to spell tongue for the headline of this column! “Tongue” is a word, unlike “their,” that will not even come up within spell check unless you are a little closer to the spelling than I was the first two times. But now that I have spelled “tongue” three times in just this one paragraph, I think I can spell “tongue” for the rest of my existence! Let’s wag our tongues and move on…

I have always thought I would be good at working in a complaint department. I’m kinda easy going. I sort of aim to please people around me. I often put away my whip and chair when I feel my feathers being ruffled. Yes, I could work in a complaint department. So, when I saw a little blurb of an article pop up about the 20 things that irritate the workers at Costco, I just had to read it.

Oh, there are the ones who don’t like the screaming kids and sooooo wish the parents would escort their little bundles of joy out into the car. Raise your hand if you agree. My hand is way up! Some who ask if the customers would please throw those little paper cups and paper food holding thingy that the freebies come in into the trash cans instead of on the floor. Hand up! The list was a bit of a yawn after that — until I saw myself! I do not take any pleasure in admitting that I saw myself on this list. Redfaced, though, I did. Thankfully, only once. But — yes, I get to pacify myself with a “but” here. But just because what I did also has happened to me and I laughed it off. However, if it happened to me as many times as I now imagine it happens to a Costco employee, I can definitely see where it could lose its “meant to be funny” funny value.

This all goes back to the computer. Most everything that seems to go wrong in my life can be traced back to the computer. I recently saw a post on the computer that was a picture of a worn-down pencil. Labels on the picture read, delete, at the eraser, print, at the tip, reboot, at a broken spot, well, you get it. That kind of computer is my kind of computer. But I have bent to the way of the world and I am computerized, fully. To get to where I am going, I will also say I have been a clerk. One that has used computers with scanners to sell stuff over and over. I have also been one who admittedly programmed stuff into computers. So when I say garbage in, garbage out, I’m pointing a finger at myself.

Now that you’ve a little more background, you’ll appreciate this item on the Costco employees grump and grind list. Seems that as lines grow long, there is always some chatter between the clerk and the customer. I like to say hi and get a “Hi” back. A little levity can make the whole process — especially that final total announcement — a little less painful. Occasionally, when you are being checked out, an item will not scan. We have all been there. The clerk scans it again and gets a honk or a buzz announcing an error with the item. Something other than the cute dee-el-eep that should be sounded as the item is scanned and the price is recorded. About the third time the item causes that HONK-HONK, I usually say something like, “Three and it’s free!” Yes, I have said it before and I have had it said to me so I feel qualified to speak on this issue. I thought it was kinda amusing.

Apparently, after hearing it umpteen times from umpteen crazy housewives, house husbands and everyone in between, any variation of that line gets a bit, well, a bit tattered and torn and needs to fall away and never be said again. I suppose if I worked in such a busy, fast-paced store as all Costco stores seem to be, I would not find as much humor in being told the same thing over and over again.

So I’m going cold turkey. I’ve vowed to bite my tongue. No quip. No witticism. No Trina-ism. Just smile at the clerk when items don’t scan correctly. I think I will… Well, let’s just say you should have read what I just deleted that I want to say next time I hear an irritating honk instead of a musical dee-el-eep. HA, HA.

Trina lives in Eureka, Nev. Share with her at


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