Regular Americans Speak Out Part 9 Housewife and Supermarket Checker

A series of essays from various regular Americans on love, work, and life in these United States including a housewife and supermarket checker.

America Speaks


"I've been married 22 years and marriage between my husband and me is a 50-50 proposition. Neither one of us makes a decision without consulting the other and this is the way I think a marriage should be. We've had a very happy, successful marriage. We very seldom argue. My husband has a hobby of fishing, so I have adopted his hobby. He and I go out in his boat, we go out on the river and we sit there for hours on end. We say a few words to each other, discuss a few problems at home--once in a while if I'm not catching the fish and he should hook one, he hands the rod to me so I can reel it in. ...

"This is a happy marriage too because I let him think he is the boss and he knows that I let him think he is the boss. But then if he wants to do something I will go along with it." (From: Couplings and Groupings by Megan Terry. New York, Discus, 1972.)


checker at a supermarket for 30 years

"I don't have to look at the keys on my register. I'm like the secretary that knows her typewriter. The touch. My hand fits. The number 9 is my big middle finger. The thumb is number one, 2 and 3 and up. The side of my hand uses the bar for the total and all that.

"I use my 3 fingers--my thumb, my index finger, and my middle finger. The right hand. And my left hand is on the groceries. They put down their groceries. I got my hips pushin' on the button and it rolls around on the counter. When I feel I have enough groceries in front of me, I let go of my hip. I'm just movin' the hips, the hand, and the register, the hips, the hand, and the register . . . . (As she demonstrates, her hands and hips move in the manner of an Oriental dancer.) You just keep goin' one, 2, one, 2. If you've got that rhythm, you're a fast checker. . . .

"I'm a checker and I'm very proud of it. There's some, they say, 'A checker--ugh!' To me, it's like somebody being a teacher or a lawyer. I'm not ashamed that I wear a uniform and nurse's shoes and that I got varicose veins. I'm makin' an honest living. Whoever looks down on me, they're lower than I am." (From: Working by Studs Terkel. New York, Pantheon Books, 1974.)

MARY WILLS, waitress, Silver Springs, Md.

"One of the nice things about being a waitress--the responsibility is not yours. If it's wrong it don't fall on your shoulders, it's the person that told you to do it. So if someone tells me to stand on my head in that dining room, I'm going to do it, and then if somebody comes along and says that I shouldn't have done that, I can say. 'Well, there's the lady that told me to do it. It's not my responsibility.'" (From: The Workers by Kenneth Lasson. New York, Bantam Books, 1971.)

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