Finger Lickers!

I suppose I should mention right up front that I’ve got OCD and am quite germ-phobic.

So, maybe I’m a bit hypersensitive to such things, but I can’t help but notice a trend at the grocery store I go to.

It seems that the cashiers enjoy spreading germs all over everything I buy.

OK, maybe they don’t enjoy it, hell, they probably hardly even notice what they’re doing.

But I can’t help but notice that some of the cashiers have this DISGUSTING FUCKING HABIT of licking their fingers before pulling a plastic bag open.


And as their disgusting, germ-laden tongues coat their digits, and then move down to grab every item I purchased, including food I bought for my family, I’m picturing CSI-type zoom-ins of bacteria racing all over my stuff.

photo courtesy of Flickr/Creative Commons. Click link to visit photographer’s page.

Bacteria that causes everything from the common cold to the next big plague!

What the hell?

And here’s the worst part, I never know what to do when a cashier does this.

I mean, the damage is done. They’ve already started ringing up my stuff. It’s not like I can call a manager over and say, “Hey, someone else ring my shit up!”

Can I?

So I started profiling cashiers, trying to figure out which among them were finger lickers.

As it turned out, it’s almost always women who do this. And it’s almost always older women. I don’t know why, or if it’s just a law of averages since most of the cashiers at the store are older women.

So, I started actively seeking out lines with either male cashiers or young female cashiers. Even if that line has 20 people in it, and the other line has two.

A few times, the front-end manager on duty has tried to get me to go to another line, and I said, “No thanks, I’m good here. I like waiting.”

One night I sidled up to the front end manager on duty, a cashier I like and talk to all the time when my son is with me, and who, I might add, never licks her fingers.

So I told her about the whole finger licking thing. It was stressing me out!

As I was speaking, I felt certain that she was going to think I was some nut job who has way too much free time. But instead, her eyes widened, and she said, “Oh my God, Corporate actually passed around a memo about that very thing. The cashiers know better.”

Then she explained that the reason the cashiers were licking their fingers was  because the bags were difficult for some people to open without wetting their hands. They USED TO have sponges at each register, but someone (probably corporate) decided to take the sponges away.

She also agreed that all the guilty finger lickers she’d noticed were the older female cashiers.

So I asked, “What do I do? I really don’t want to get anyone fired by complaining.”

She said I ought to complain, anyway.

So I said, OK, I will. Next time.


I’ve always liked older people. I often feel like I was born a generation too late, and enjoy talking with people who have totally different life experiences than I have. I know some old folks get a reputation for being cranky, but that’s not been my experience. In fact, most have been pretty nice to me, and are especially kind to my son (who is like a grandma/grandpa magnet!)

So I especially don’t want to get an older person in trouble by complaining to management.

I wound up in this cashier’s line, an older woman with a kindly smile who was probably somebody’s kindly grandmother, “How are you, today?” she asked with a smile so genuine and sweet, you’d think I was her son.

And then she stuck her fingers into her mouth, and the licking began.

FUCK! What do I do now?

I’m not going to complain and get some nice older lady fired! But what else can I do? I start rationalizing. She seems nice, she probably doesn’t have too many germs.

But I can’t help seeing the whole CSI close-up montage running through my mind.

I looked around for an answer, but no answer was to be found. All the other lines were full, and the front-end manager on duty was nowhere to be found, even if I wanted to complain. Then I watched as her germ-filled hand reached for my food.

She placed item after item into the bag as I pictured myself having to take everything out of the bags when I got home and wiping them down. Then, bag full, she went to lick her hands before getting another bag.

And then I did it…

I said, “Please don’t lick your fingers.”

She looked at me as if I’d just said, “I have a gun and give me all your money.”

The kind smile was replaced with a dour glare.

I then felt compelled to explain, “My son is sick (which was true) and I’m germ-phobic, and I don’t want germs all over our stuff.”

I may as well have just said, “No, really, it’s my fault, not yours. I’m an annoying Obsessive-Compulsive asshole.”

She proceeded to check my stuff out, without licking her fingers again (though the damage was done — God knows how many germs she had on her fingers from a full day of licking, licking and touching other people’s disgusting money, no less — it’s like a stew of sickness!)

And then I paid and left, feeling like the world’s biggest jerk.

I wanted to complain, but I didn’t want to get her in trouble.

I’d call corporate, but hell, they already know about the issue and apparently don’t care enough to enforce it… or fucking provide sponges!

And yes, I could go to another store, but this is the closest store to me, they have the stuff we want, and the prices are right. I also like many of the people at the store who I have come to know via years of small talk.

I shouldn’t have to go somewhere else.

And I shouldn’t have to be made to feel like an asshole just because I don’t want someone licking everything I buy. The whole thing just makes me feel anxious each time I get into a line.

A week or so later, the only line open was the woman I had chided. I watched as she waited on the people ahead of me, licking like crazy.


Do I really have to do this again?

And then another cashier went on duty — a young guy, no less!


I hopped into his line like my cart was on fire.

I put my stuff on the conveyor belt and watched in horror as his fingers went to his mouth.

The fucker was a finger licker!

* * * *

QUESTION: Am I nuts? Do finger lickers bother you? Leave a comment below. Or tell me things that annoy you when out shopping and make me feel a bit less like an asshole.

Tagged with: