After eight years enduring the vile behaviour of her supermarket customers, Anna Sam took revenge by revealing all in a book.
My name is Anna. I’m 31 years old with a degree in literature and a life story that is both completely ordinary and a little bit unusual
Former cashier Anna Sam offers an insider’s peek at what really goes on behind the register. In the wise and witty voice of the college-educated, underpaid retail worker, Sam comments on everything from ill-cut uniforms, to drunken customers, to Express Lane tricks. Filled with hilarious and hair-raising observations, Checkout Girl is a great gift for anyone who has ever been, or had an encounter with, a supermarket cashier.
Sam has become an unlikely literary success. Her book, The Tribulations of a Checkout Girl, has sold 100,000 copies in France so far, and is set to be published all over the world, including the UK, later this year. There is a French film in the pipeline, a play, a comic strip and – this last bit she finds impossible to say without a gurgle of pleasure – “even ‘ollywood” has expressed an interest.
Born in Rennes, to a road-worker father and police administrator mother, Sam began working in a supermarket part-time to fund her French literature studies. “After I got my degree I went back to working in a supermarket to bridge a gap. Then time passes,” she shrugs, “and there aren’t many jobs out there…” At the Rennes branch of Leclerc – the equivalent of Tesco – Sam would work eight-hour days as a beepeuse (a woman who beeps) with only two 15-minute breaks and a series of occupational hazards which still make her wince. “That beeping,” she puts freckled hands to her face, “you can still hear it when you get home at night and as you fall asleep.”
In her book, Sam describes her job as “one of the most desirable vantage points from which to enjoy the full panoply of human idiocy” – and yet behind the levity is a serious message about how we treat other people. “It reached a stage where I felt that people needed to be re-socialised. Somebody had to say something.”
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