Monthly Archives: June 2012

Here’s the next instalment to Checkout Chick. Click the link above to read it from the beginning.

 

(15) EARLY SHIFT

Am terribly moody. Amy is away this week and she’s the one that normally does the early shift. Haven’t done it for years and know why. Am horrible in the morning.

Worst thing about morning shift is waiting around by back door in freezing cold feeling very much like desperate woman at door of boyfriend she thinks will dump her. You ring bell and dance from side to side (due to cold) and wait until someone (usually Bill, but in this case Tony in Bill’s absence) to let you in. Is almost degrading.

Managed to smoke full cigarette whilst buzzing bell at frequent intervals before Tony let me in. Said, ‘you’re cutting it fine.’ Yes, because have been outside for fifteen minutes waiting for you, ya great lump. Didn’t say this. Tony not Bill. Can say what like to Bill. Bill’s scared of me. Not sure why.

A lot to do when you’re the first one in so need to arrive at least half an hour early. Now only had fifteen minutes and am not very good at moving quickly in early morning.

First things first is to get cigarette cartons. Each night we take these out of kiosk and put them in big safe at back of store. This because desperate drug addicts in town frequently break into supermarkets to steal cigarettes. Big money in cigarettes on black market. Apparently.

Have to unload all cartons into trolley and take to Kiosk to load into cupboards. surprised as Tony already loaded up fags into trolley for me. Quite considerate. No matter how much he fears me, Bill would never do this.

Head down to front end with Tony, popping head into meat room to say morning to all. Meat section a weird one. All are poms. Not one Aussie in whole bunch. But then, suppose is quite like fruit and veg where all are Italian. Supermarket is very multi-cultural place but also quite discriminatory.

Meat room full of raging music, blood and carcasses. Smelt horrible. Always does.

‘Morning all.’

‘Denni! Thought you were allergic to the morning!’ This came from Ralph. Head meat man.

‘Yes, yes, ha, ha, ha.’

Continued down to front end. Tony helped me throw cartons haphazardly onto floor of kiosk to put away later. Note – kiosk no longer referred to as kiosk but ‘customer service.’ Do not call it that. When started, back when floors were cement instead of linoleum, kiosk was own separate little box with own roof and everything. Re-vamp opened it up and did away with seedy back section where many a picture of naked men hung on wall. Acknowledgement of change of name not made by older staff. Will always be kiosk. Probably because we don’t actually offer any customer service.

Tony had to unlock cash drawer and cupboard for me. Green bag with seal contained my float. Took out my till. Tony left me the keys for the registers.

My till. Is cleanest one in store, my till. All us old-timers have our own till drawers. Have had mine since I started. Every now and then a newbie will use my till even though written on back is ‘Denni – Touch and Die!’ Is mine, mine, mine and no one else allowed to touch it. Offending newbies given stern lecture and never offend again. You’ve got to keep them in line.

Sort float into till. Am very particular with money. All little plastic windows must face same way (top right hand corner). Like till to be organised. Was terrible period when currency was moving from paper to plastic. Hated having two varieties of notes in my till. Would often deposit old paper money into pod – little device attached to bottom of register where larger money deposited for safe keeping, hundreds and fifties if you have surplus of them. Would get into trouble with Rosemary for this but didn’t care – would take her wrath over anomalies of currency any time.

Took keys to turn on all registers. Already three people – same offenders as always – at door waiting for opening time. Sad fuckers. Was not even six in the morning. Had they nothing better to do? Vince strolled over from fruit and veg on route to back area for more produce.

‘Would you look at them? Feel like animal in zoo with them lot pressed against the glass staring me down.’

‘Yes,’ nodded head to own entrance. ‘Probably thinking – “can’t he see us? Why’s he not opening the doors?”‘

‘Fuckers,’ Vince said.

‘Yeah, fuckers.’

Is terrible that vast proportion of people that work in customer service actually hate customers.

Hadn’t worked an opening with Tony so didn’t know if he was anything like Bill when it came to opening the store. Bill hates customers that stand outside the door waiting for us to open. Sometimes, if in specially vindictive mood, he let’s six o’clock come and go. By six-o-three the customers start banging on the door and yelling – usually at Vince as he’s the only one visible, working in fruit and veg – to open up. When that doesn’t work they form a kind of alliance. Huddle in a group before sending out one of the member – usually an appeasing little old lady – over to the checkout entrance to do the same. And we all have a little laugh at the poor fuckers before Bill eventually opens the doors at six-oh-five.

Boozer was right. Tony is an arsehole. Back of kiosk is set higher to enable us to see over cigarette shelves to front counter and from there we have a clear view of both entrances. Tony opened main entrance at five fifty-five. Was mutiny. Hadn’t even loaded cigarettes. Hadn’t even set up register at front counter. Saw vince strolling around isle with trolley load of broccoli – he hadn’t even loaded up half of greens yet. Saw Sally in bakery – she hadn’t loaded up most of bread yet. Everyone enraged.

Phone buzzed in kiosk. Was Christina, deli manager. ‘You know the bastard Tony has opened doors already? Haven’t even sliced ham yet. Customer wanting two hundred grams. Is bastard.’

Christina hung up, probably because customer was still waiting for said ham.

Tony came and opened doors at my end. Glanced at cigarette cartons on floor and said, ‘you better get those packed up, Denni.’

Fucker.

 

 

(16)

Is crisis with cigarettes. Four cartons missing of Escort Blue. Fingers pointed at me as am smoker. But then, aren’t we all? Mel reasonable, said to Maria (third in charge, ancient woman. Friends with Rosemary – enough said) that am Marlboro smoker, not Escort Blue. However, as ‘misplacement’ of cigarettes happened between Sunday close and Monday am only culprit. Was my job to unload cigarette cartons from back safe. Ah, yes, but didn’t do. Tony did it for me. Mystery surrounds. But still, don’t like to be accused of anything. When I steal something – normally Fruit Chocs from pick’n’mix – am very open about it. But would never steal cigarettes. Wouldn’t be able to complain loudly and often about the cost of them, would I?

 

(17)

General consensus is that stock take of cigarettes must have been incorrect as another carton missing. Thankfully Monica on early shift, not me and Monica not a smoker.

Very strange, though. Mel did not inform Tony of missing carton this time and told me to keep mouth shut.

Do not like it. Mel had mad glint in her eye. Gets it when about to fire people, which she quite enjoys. (Which is why I can’t understand why she hasn’t yet fired Slow Sarah). Hope she’s not about to fire me. Thought we were friends. And proper friends, not just because she wants to shag my brother (though have sneaky suspicion she already has).

 

(18)

Dorothy in today. Dorothy with us once or twice a month and basically spends all her time pretending to shop while secretly on the lookout for would-be thieves. Marvelous job, really. Do wonder how you’d get into it. Perhaps you have to be un-assuming like Dorothy. Goodness knows why they bother bringing her in, though. Law already on thieves side. They can stuff goodness knows what down their pants right in front of your face and you can’t do a thing until they leave the store. But then you have to catch them, don’t you? But can’t use force on them. Can’t even touch them. They’ll have you for assault. In all time have worked on checkout there’s only ever been one occasion when something happened whilst was there. Once. Dorothy had clocked this guy filling his trousers and alerted Bill and Mark (2IC). They went out fruit and veg entrance to round him when he exited past checkouts. I’d been dispatched to “wash windows” by door and when he exited, me, Maria, Bill and Dorothy rounded on him. Thank goodness he just gave up. According to Bill the paperwork involved wasn’t worth the confectionary the man had been trying to steal. Once, when I wasn’t there, a whole family were stuffing meat down their trousers. Husband, wife and two kids. Meat, I tell you. Ralph threw all of it out once they got caught. Said was no way he was going to sell steaks that had been touching a fat man’s balls.

We have security technique that works very well and has done so for years. If anyone spots suspicious behaviour – most of time kids trying to nick a few Mars Bars – we get on loud speaker and say – ‘code red on isle four!’ We then send someone menacing to walk down isle to “investigate”. Usually Boozer, if he’s about or Dan, his day time counterpart who is on the roids and therefore massive. Scares the kids shitless and they drop everything and run out of store.

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fully-sick subwoofer

This is the next instalment of Checkout Chick. For the full story so far, click on the Checkout Chick link in the menu.

 

(13) FULLY-SICK SUBWOOFER

Think am being stalked. Not as glamorous as I imagined. Paddy and I at home watching Bones. Am not sure what is sadder, really. That am thirty year old woman still living with her brother or that I watch Bones. have become slightly obsessed with it after initially hating the show. That’s what prolonged exposure does to you. Paddy and I would watch Friends, which we like, and Bones always follows Friends. Every night on triple one Hits. Neither of us could be arsed changing channel and so now quite like Bones. I think I like it as have always had a thing for nerdy types.

Anyway, concentrating on Bones quite difficult as V8 sounding vehicle kept driving up and down road, massive exhaust, base thump, thump, thumping as it went. Paddy started making jokes about amount of petrol it consuming.

‘Ten dollars, twenty dollars, thirty-‘ until sound of vehicle died down and Paddy deduced he’d gone off to the servo. It concerned us both that someone on our street may own this vehicle. That the windows would be rattling every night. Memory of Harley Man still fresh in our minds. Must have been a shift worker, Harley Man – would arrive home at two in the morning, waking us both, house shaking as if was an earthquake. Thankfully Harley man got busted for drugs and motorbike confiscated. Thank goodness as am not very good with broken sleep. Do not need repeat of that.

Get into work next morning (this morning) and Marco from Fruit and Veg declared himself the culprit.

‘Did’ja here me last night, Denni? Cruising past your house all night. Why didn’t chya come out?’

Weird sense of romance, Marco. ‘That was you rattling the windows?’

‘Yeah, my fully-sick subwoofer.’

‘Is that the technical term?’ Realised Marco’s life sadder than mine. But then, I at least have variety in my job. He only deals with fruits and vegetables and the odd fungus.

‘Why didn’chya come out?’

Bewildered. Driving of booming vehicle some antiquated ritual to entice me out of home. Perhaps is like peacock thrusting it’s feather in face of prospective mate. Unfortunately for Marco, am not turned on by V8 motor vehicles, or, actually, any motor vehicle. Probably makes me thoroughly un-Australian.

Marco not deterred. Wants to take me on ‘cruise’ in ‘hotted up V8.’ Is father’s old statesman. Disturbing thing – Marco thirty, not eighteen. Is sad, sad life he leads. Yet these are my options, really: blokes like Marco who thinks attractiveness to women comes in the form of copious amounts of hair gel, loud exhausts and fully-sick subwoofers. Really, is wonder am not still a virgin.

 

(14)

It seems that Tony is losing his luster with some of the staff. Fun loving and care free – perhaps a little too much. Apparently was MIA for three hours yesterday. Boozer swears Tony had dilated pupils and blood shot eyes on his return. Am inclined to believe Boozer. He’d certainly know the signs.

Then comes word from Rosemary that Tony was sleeping on the job. Rosemary is the money lady. Spends day locked up in vault-like room counting the takings. Many don’t believe her statement as Rosemary is viewed as bitch. Once accused me of being $200 short in till. Spent week agonising about what ridiculous mistake I must have made to be so much out. Then Rosemary tells me that all was well, she’d simply mislaid the $200. No apologies. Mislaid where, I tell you? Suspect that she herself must have fallen asleep in box-like room. I mean – who would know? No one else allowed in the vault with her.

Also – embarrassingly – Tony spent ten minutes at checkout of one of the casuals trying to withdraw cash. His girlfriend, only about twenty, I mean, is disgusting, was waiting anxiously beside him. Was like auction in reverse, Monica said. Started reverse bidding at 400. No luck. (Monica was pleased. Had just started shift and didn’t even have four hundred cash). Tried $300. Not enough. Tried $200. Not enough. Walked away with $50 in the end which he handed to girlfriend. Sulking, she was.

‘Yeah, ’cause that’s barely enough for one hit,’ Mel said.

‘You what?’ I asked. Monica and I looking at her blankly. Fuck we’re naive.

‘Meth addict,’ Mel explained.

Is disturbing what she knows, really.

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new Checkout Chick here!

Here’s the next instalment of Checkout Chick. It can be read from the beginning by clicking on the Checkout Chick link in the menu.

 

 

 

 

(9) SMOKO

Colloquial term. Ten minute break. ‘Smoko’ as most people used time for cigarette break. Still a lot of smokers working in supermarkets. Really, wouldn’t you?

Two designated smoko areas. Outside of deli next door usually where lunch smoko taken. Day workers from supermarket take over two tables and are as rowdy as a bunch of drunken buffoons. Leave area littered with cigarette butts. Deli owners hate us.

Other area is outside back door of store. Old milk crates used as tables and chairs. Means you end up being on first name basis with delivery drivers. Jovial. Bordering on friendship. Some delivery drivers even invited to Christmas do.

Smoko’s often spent complaining about customers. Venting session. Some organisations have in-horse councilors. We have smokos.

 

 

(10)

Darling brother Paddy. He likes having me around because it means he gets to eat things other than fish and chips and microwave meals. Five years ago we made the decision to move in together. I rent out my unit and pay Paddy board. Share groceries and such like. Means we’re both in better financial position.

I like having Paddy around because means I have someone to fill up car, check tires and all those things that I can’t be arsed thinking about. We work well together, me and Paddy. Argue like crazy, yes. Annoy the fuck out of one another, yes. Laugh a lot, yes, yes. Everyone says we look alike. Both short, brown haired, brown eyed. Two youngest in a very large Irish family so found it necessary to bond at young age. Thank goodness, really.

Convinced Paddy to take my car today. Gave him money for petrol. Came in to Supermarket looking absolutely thunderous. Didn’t matter to him that had customer. Customer didn’t mind, either. Female customer. Females like Paddy.

‘Tires are supposed to have air in them.’

‘Yes, yes.’ Same lecture. Always.

‘Engine supposed to have oil in it.’

Yes, yes. ‘Is what have you for.’

‘Window washers need water in them.’

‘Yes, yes, is what have you for.’

Paddy likes to complain about my lack of self-sufficiency. Makes him feel he has a purpose.

Customer quite interested in my conversation with Paddy. While she giving me money she turns to Paddy and makes comment of how she wished she had someone like him to check her tires. Paddy all, I’ll check your tires. Her eyes shining. ‘You’ll check my tires?’ Metaphors galore. Do not want to think what they really went off to do.

Think that Paddy got the last of the charisma left in our mother’s womb. Have tried to flirt, have tried to be charismatic, but it never happens. Is so typical, though. My work, mine. Yet Paddy strolls in and get’s a date. Is unbelievable. And completely unfair.

 

 

(11)

Bright Eyes came in. Again much interest. Again paid in cash. Again came through my checkout. Mel has decided he is no longer good looking as was wearing grey cardigan which is apparently just not acceptable on any man. I didn’t mind, though. Firstly, he smiled at me when I gave him his change. Secondly, it seems to be some kind of uniform, his clothes. Last time he came in he was wearing white shirt and black pants. Same today but with added cardigan. As have no fashion sense myself cannot begrudge others for same infliction.

 

 

(12)

Our store manager, Bill, is on annual leave for two weeks. He’s gone to Thailand. The general consensus is that he’s taken his mother with him. he’s that kind of bloke, you know?

Replacement is a man called Tony from the city. City slicker, though imagine him strolling into store with legs wide apart, wearing cowboy boots and toting a pistol. Seems like that kind of bloke. Keen to be everyone’s friend. Immediately got everyone onside with his charisma. But then, isn’t that what Hitler did? Will watch out for discrimination against Jews. Hang on, there are no Jews. Hang on, have not actually ever met a Jew. Do Jews exist? Apparently not in South Australia.

Tearoom suddenly awash with various items we could only ever dream about. Nestcafe instead of International Roast. Tim Tams and Mint Slices instead of Arrowroot Biscuits. Bill would never let us write off any such items for staff use. More often than not have to beg even for carton of milk.

One person that doesn’t like him is Boozer. Boozer works night fill but oddly is around quite a lot during the day. Has been here as long as me. Boozer’s the one we always ask when we need a price check because he won’t ignore you like the other lads. Probably because he fears each and every one of us that works checkout. Do not know Boozer’s real name. Am pretty sure no one does, bar Rosemary who does the pays. Would be funny, though, if ‘Boozer’ is written on the top of his pay slip. Must ask him one day if can take a look. Boozer on an official document. How Australian.

Boozer called Tony ‘Fucking wanker.’ Yet he tends to use this description about most people. Am assuming that Tony, who has no knowledge of how things run down here, doesn’t know that Boozer cannot be rushed, at anything, and that all of us have given up trying.  Could very well be, though, that Tony told Boozer that showing a good inch of arse crack was inappropriate for a supermarket environment. We’ve given up trying with that, too.

 

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Here’s the next instalment of Checkout Chick. It can be read from the beginning by clicking on the Checkout Chick link in the menu.

 

(7)

Lovely man who’d lost his wife stopped by customer service today. I wasn’t there; out back in tearoom having lunch. Boss lady (Mel) came in with tin of Danish biscuit. The real buttery kind, sprinkled with large sugar crystals. Said they were for me as a thank you. Lovely, lovely man. Have had to hide tin, though. Paddy (brother) would polish them all off in no time. God knows where he puts it, skinny prick.

 

(8) BRIGHT EYES

Life on checkout very boring. Not much to do but scanning, fake smiling at customers, trying to tune out kids screaming for a Kinder Surprise. Used to be Caramellos and before that Freddo Frogs and before that Bertie Beetles. One of the main things that keeps us occupied is perving on customers. Thing is – we live in small town. Pretty much know every face that walks into supermarket. Familiarity is not attractive. However sometimes you’re so desperate you begin to think usual suspects are good looking which never helps. False attractiveness breeds contempt. With yourself.

So today new blood comes in and we all stand up and notice. Code yellows being hissed out from all sides. Oh look at him, he’s attractive. Anyone seen him before? No, no. Attractiveness only noticed by me, Melissa and Maria. ie – older generation. Because man in question older. Forties, I believe. Younger checkout chicks find him too old for hotness factor.

He’s tall, first of all. Slim to medium build. Greying hair – salt and pepper like George Clooney, but not smug-looking like George Clooney. High cheekbones. Blue/green eyes. Sparkling. Will call him Bright Eyes.

Was lucky one. Bright eyes came in through my checkout. Sucked in, you bitches.

Tried to identify what type of person Bright Eyes is by goods purchased. Quite easy to become detective-like when checkout chick. Bright Eyes purchased bread, butter, milk and single twirl bar. Very stock-standard stuff. Twirl bar telling. Cadburys fan but doesn’t trust himself to buy entire bar. Doesn’t have wife or live-in girlfriend. Would have bought chocolate to share for her. Bread very bachelor food. Probably sits at home and eats toast instead of cooking self meal. Poor fucker.

No wallet. Took money out of pocket (black work pants). Small notes. No credit card, dam it. Credit card would have given me name. No such like. Maria and Mel descended upon checkout when he left but could give them no further information.

Bright Eyes small excitement in our day.

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checkout chick continued…

**** Here’s the next instalment for Checkout Chick. Denni writes about an interaction with a customer that touches her deeply. Remember; for the full story head to Checkout Chick link above****

 

(6)

Cripes alive. Today was just terrible. In a good kind of way. One of those times when you have to pretend you need the loo to go off and have a good cry.

Quiet day. Very quiet. had gone over to deli to drop off some perishables left behind at checkout. Cassie – useless bitch that she is – serving this old man who had almost empty trolley before him and a many-times folded shopping list in his sun-spotted, veiny hands.

‘Yes, can I please have four kilos of shaved virginian ham.’

Stopped me in my tracks. Four kilos. Four kilos? Unlikely, no? Yes. Unlikely. Cassie, meanwhile, just nodded at him and started shoveling handfuls of shaved ham into a bag

Sidled up to man. ‘Ah, excuse me sir?’

‘Yes?’

God, face was terrible. Saddest face I’ve ever seen. Weary. Woe-begotten. ‘Are you sure you want four kilos? Is just, that’s an awful lot of ham, sir.’

Cassie stopped shoveling; didn’t want to do any work she didn’t have to. Lazy bitch.

Terrible, terrible. Man started shaking his head and then burst into tears – actually cried. Held face in hands and said, ‘I Don’t know, I don’t know.’

Cassie gave me a look which plainly said “what a loser”. Wanted to hit her. Glared in return.

‘Sir?’

He looked up at me with protuberant blue eyes – all soul gone out of them. ‘My wife used to do the shopping. She died. I’ve no idea. I have a list-‘ he waved the list at me in a defeated way.

Poor, poor fucker. Wanted to cry with him. He took out a handkerchief and dabbed his eyes and blew his nose.

‘Right,’ I said to him. Knew what this man needed was help, but also needed strength. Would have been a man of the war, this man. Stiff upper lip and all that. ‘This ham for your sandwiches, sir? And are you shopping for whole week?’

‘Yes.’ Pitiful. Pitiful.

‘Okay. Let’s start with three hundred grams, yeah? If you have some left over at the end of the week you know it’s too much, if you run out you know it’s not enough.’

‘Yes, okay then.’

I looked at Cassie who nodded and began taking bits of ham out of the bag to match three hundred grams.

Was slow day, yes, but would have done this during thronging Saturday afternoon rush (bah! haven’t worked a Saturday in five years!) Wanted to help this poor, poor man. As we shopped, we talked. His wife had a stroke and died very suddenly. She had taken care of the house, he the money. The fault of old, traditional relationships. He now with no clue how much ham to buy and had he been the one to die, she’d have no idea how to pay for electricity bill.

The man couldn’t cook, so directed him to microwave meals. He’d put sausages on his list and I imagined him eating nothing more than sausages and ham sandwiches the rest of his life. At least with microwave meals he’d get meat, carbs and vegetables. Directed him to snap lock bags so he could divide bacon and sausages into single serves and freeze. Told him lots of tips like that. Why would he know them? His wife did everything. Stopped self short at telling him to bring me his washing, but really, poor man. If he doesn’t know how much ham to buy how is he going to work out the washing machine?

He kept stammering his thanks to me but all I could think about is this poor old man going home to an empty home without his wife and how Cassie was more than willing to bag up four kilos of ham for him without even blinking.

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checkout chick update…

*** here we continue Denni’s blog on being a checkout chick. For the full story so far click here or the checkout chick link in the menu

 

(4) PACKING

Customers literally don’t give a fuck. They complain if you pack cold items or meats, let’s say, in with things like detergents, or soft items like bread in with canned goods (both of which I would never do but is beside the point) yet they pack items onto conveyor belt in haphazard manner so is almost impossible not to do.

Today put bag of cold goods on loading side quite satisfied I’d kept all the cold goods together. Customer taking own time unloading basket. Then, suddenly, after cereals, pasta, canned items and cleaning goods appears a litre tub of yogurt, block of butter, tub of margarine and pack of those creme brulee deserts I quite fancy.

Annoyed the shit out of me because litre tub of yogurt would have been packed in bottom of cold bag next to the milk but instead had thrown in bunch of bananas and bag of apples to make up the space. Much re-organising ensued and admittedly I tutted with annoyance. Feeble apologies from the customer but knew what she was really thinking – that getting items out of basket/trolley shouldn’t be customers job anyhow. We, the staff should be doing it. Feckers.

(5) BASKET BASTARDS

Hate Basket Bastards. Lazy bastards. Can I just say – am not tall. Five foot two. Arms not long. Work six hours straight standing up and lifting heavy objects from one side to another. But these lazy so-and-so’s think that it’s perfectly okay to dump basket on conveyor belt and watch me struggle to grab items from its depths which is obviously difficult for me to do when can barely reach. Sometimes am in super bitchy mood and command customer to unload basket. Other times am in super fowl mood and simply tip basket onto side so contents topple out, sometimes breaking. Customer gets angry – so what? Say, oh, I’m sorry, bitch face (or bastard-face) is the only way I can do it as cannot reach in basket to pull out items. Look innocent. Flutter eyelids. People hate when you’re sarcastic.

Are their lives really so difficult, so stressful that they can’t take thirty seconds out of their lives to unload their baskets? Terrible. Really.

 

*** Next in CHECKOUT CHICK – Denni shares the sad tale of a shopper whose just lost his wife, and we learn of her latest checkout crush

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Checkout Chick has been updated!

Denni has added two more posts to her blog about being a checkout chick. Check them out by clicking on the link below or on the above menu bar.

Checkout Chick

Thanks so much for your kind messages regarding Checkout Chick; am glad you guys are enjoying it!

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