Post Title: Vision Impaired | 3 Ways Magnification and Directional Language Help Me Succeed as a Cashier
A Hard Start to my New Job
When I started out as a cashier in mid-November, 2021, I had no real techniques to help me succeed at my job. I had only determination and the willingness of my colleagues to help me.
My coordinators supplied me with a magnifying glass attached to the register. But the glass did not reach the areas I needed it to—mostly the images of the produce—and I couldn’t reach it to the correct angle. Stretching the magnifier across the register took a lot of effort and blurred the images. It also often came off the register and got in my way. It slowed me down. I tried to make it work, but even on that first day, I knew it would not serve my needs.
I could identify some images easily, like bananas, without a magnifier, but in most cases, I needed clear magnification.
Hand Held Magnifier
I brought in a hand magnifier I found at home. It was 3.5x (magnified an image 3 times its size). This served as an emergency measure. But it often enlarged the name of the produce to what I could NEARLY read but not quite. It was just a little too small to make out the words. The result: doing a lot of guessing.
Customers threw up their arms and requested the coordinator to take off an ill-chosen, seemingly random item that nearly always cost more than the item they actually purchased.
My coordinators came frequently to remove these strange-named produce items. I remember one was NAPA CABBAGE. The customer’s response now makes me laugh.
But I still felt terrible at taking them away from their busy routine.
I didn’t know how to change the situation. I needed stronger magnification. But how could I get that? I didn’t have a rehab counselor. At that time, I was between counselors.
First Solution – Stronger Magnifier Arrives
My brother is given an allotment every three months from his insurance. Around the start of February, I saw he had ordered a magnifying glass. This one was 4x the strength. He was in the hospital at the time, so I borrowed it.
The strength of the magnifier was perfect! I could see the entire word of the produce and I could see the total price the guest owed.
I have used it ever since.
This / That and Here / There
Customers also breezed in and at some point during their transaction, said, “Did you get that?”
The question always sent a pin-prick of fear to my insides. I would give them a blank look. “Get what?”
“That! It’s right THERE!”
They always blew up at me and acted as if I were an idiot.
I didn’t know if they meant the store advantage card—which they often placed on the conveyor belt, typically on top of the ice cream, a case of pop or something they were holding.
I didn’t know where to look.
It exasperated us both.
Line of Danger
Not only did it happen with customers, it also occurred with the coordinators and other cashiers when they asked if I had scanned something in the cart.
The question caused me stress. MAJOR STRESS.
The coordinators need to replenish bags for the cashiers, check and replace register tape and collect checks from the register. They often told me, “I’m here, Amy.” But I didn’t know exactly where they were in relation to me. I was often in the middle of a customer transaction.
One coordinator was bent over adding bags to my stash when I clobbered her with a case of pop.
She kept her cool but said, “Didn’t you hear me when I said I was here?”
Remorse filled me. “Yes, but I didn’t know where HERE was.”
Clearly, something needed to change before I injured someone even more so.
A Second Solution Forms
I recalled how the trouble shooter from the Sight Center of Northwest Pennsylvania in a letter instructed my co-workers in the bakery to be SPECIFIC about directional language. She told them to “think in pictures” when giving me a task or having me shelve bread.
I needed to be bold enough to share that with the coordinators.
Around that time, one of my fellow cashiers told me, “I’m right behind you, taking your trash.” He meant Don’t back into me.
Shortly afterward, Dr. Charles Stanley from In Touch Radio, which I listen to on my phone when going to sleep, mentioned how we can encourage others by thanking them for ways they help us.
So, I took out a Thank You card and penned a note to Andrew, the guy who told me he was right behind me taking out my trash. I thanked him for using the correct directional language to prevent me from running into him.
Acknowledging this in a card changed my situation.
Andrew never said anything to me about the card, but he must have mentioned it to the coordinators.
The one I nearly mowed over with the case of pop acted first. “Amy, I’m at your cash register taking your checks.”
“Oh, thanks for letting me know!”
More coordinators started telling me where they were in relation to where I was.
That helped us ALL tremendously—and averted many potential accidents.
Third Solution: The Pin
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to label myself with a pin. But I couldn’t stand the here/there issue with the customers.
So, I went to the Sight Center and asked them to make me a pin that said “Vision Impaired Legally Blind.”
Once I wore that, there would be no turning back.
Would customers avoid my line? Would they over-help me?
I used to have a Low Vision pin but I don’t think many people really understood it.
This was right there in their face.
And they would form judgments about me.
But once I started wearing the pin, the instances of the here/there and this/that lessened.
I wasn’t sure if it was coincidental or not, but I like to believe it was because of my pro-active measures that I started to feel a greater degree of comfort in my transactions.
A couple of customers said “If you need help bagging my groceries, I can help.”
I always refused—all except to those who took over anyway.
Being Pro-Active Brings Results
Because I was pro-active, my situation has become better. More customers accept me. I do address any question the store guest has regarding my eyesight—but not many ask.
Perhaps being courageous enough to wear a pin opens the door to acceptance and positive responses. It might not be the right solution tor everyone with sight loss. But it helped me. I don’t see it as labeling myself anymore. I see it as a way to start a dialogue and for demonstrating those with sight loss are employable.
God Cares for Me
One of my favorite verses is Philippians 4: 19.
“And my God shall meet all
your needs according to His
glory in Christ Jesus. “
God provides for me a step at a time. In this way, my faith increases. At just the right time, God supplies information and situations that enable me to move forward. He places people in my life to direct me.
He does that with all of us.
When I feel unsettled, I know God is there and will supply more of my needs just like he did with the magnifier, directional language and the pin.
In what situations has God tested and guided you in your life recently? Leave a comment below.
You have just read “Vision Impaired | 3 Ways Magnification and Directional Language Help Me Succeed as a Cashier” by Amy Bovaird. © June 7, 2022. All Rights Reserved.
Amy, I am impressed with your bravery at facing such a challenge in the first place. BRAVO for getting the pin. Believe me, it would help me significantly to see that on a cashier. Then I don’t have to guess what’s wrong or what I’m supposed to be doing. I have a friend who wears a similar one, and I’m so glad, because even though I know she’s visually impaired, sometimes in conversation I just forget (just like people forget about my asthma or not being able to sit on hard surfaces – and that’s good because it means they don’t think of me as only my illnesses), so it’s good to, ironically, have a visual reminder.
P.S. People feel better if they help, so don’t think it’s a bad thing if they bag stuff sometimes. I often do that when I notice a line and the cashier is busy ringing things up – and it has nothing to do with me labeling or feeling sorry for the person. I just don’t like standing there doing nothing. =)
I think you’re fantastic and love that you’re sharing this journey and what you’re learning with others!
Yes, the pin has been super!
And thanks for letting me know you help bag to speed up the process. Maybe some of mine do that same.
One gentleman said he was on old stomping grounds as he “cut his teeth” as a bagger at a supermarket that used to be in our area. That made me laugh. I had a funny vision of him putting the handles of the bags in his teeth and chewing like a cow! LOL! I think you’re right also that people feel better knowing. Oh my gosh, I still have those people who tell me an item is “there!” I’m getting bolder in responding, “Sorry, I don’t know where ‘there’ is. Can you be more specific – to my right, to my left. in front of me, on the belt, etc.”