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Apathetic Clerk

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"Hang in there, Squidward. It’s all part of the job."

"Thanks for shopping at Gar's, have a... day."

Sometimes in fiction, cashiers and clerks will be portrayed as apathetic. Often bored with their job, they might not be aware of what's going on around them. Will likely get annoyed when asked to do work. Expect them to turn a blind eye to suspicious purchases, if they notice them at all. Won't stop children from buying age-restricted items, (i.e. cigarettes and alcohol). Their personality will run the gamut from friendly and perky, but just doesn't like to do their job, to outright bitter and even hostile to the customers.

Related to The Slacker and Apathetic Citizens. This is often a first job for a Bratty Teenage Daughter. May result from working a Soul-Sucking Retail Job. Overlaps with Burger Fool. In cases where the cashier is apathetic to nightmarish working conditions, this will become Conditioned to Accept Horror. Compare to the Super-Stoic Shopkeeper, who doesn't react to extreme events, but generally still does their job. Contrast with Creepy Gas-Station Attendant, where a character working a menial job is Played for Horror as opposed to comedy. Also contrast Haughty Help, where the people providing service are disdainful rather than apathetic. The opposite version of the trope is the Friendly Shopkeeper.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Highschool of the Dead: In episode 3 (Chapter 3 of the manga) there is a scene with a convenience store clerk standing behind the counter in an open-mouthed daze, somehow apparently oblivious to all the chaos currently happening while a zombie shuffles across the road towards him until it is hit by the bus the protagonists are driving. The clerk doesn't even bother to turn his head or even notice it all happening a few feet away from him.
  • Lucky Star: Upon hearing that hardcore otaku Konata has gotten a part-time job to buy more Quo cards, Kagami and Tsukasa discuss what kind of job would even suit her. They imagine her as a bookstore cashier, where she ignores customers in favor of her manga and gets prizes from the merchandise, a convenience store cashier, where she speaks quickly and slurs her words to get things over with, and then a fast food cashier and family restaurant waitress, where her deadpan expression would cause problems. When Konata tells them she's a waitress at a Cosplay Café, they agree it suits her perfectly.

  • Mentioned by David Cross, when talking about the over-saturation of advertising from McDonald's, and he suggests they not advertise for one day a month.
    Maybe then, next time I go in, I won't have to deal with some understandably pissed nineteen-year-old who's thinking, "Can anyone explain to me why I shouldn't be selling drugs?"

    Comic Books 
  • Viz: One issue had a comic strip titled Lazy Disinterested 16 Year Old Shoe Shop Girl, featuring a 16-year-old cashier who showed more interest in her mobile phone and blowing bubbles with her bubble gum than she did in serving customers.

    Films — Animation 
  • Sausage Party: Darren isn't just apathetic, he's downright rude, commenting loudly that he "Fuggin' hates this job" and calling Camille a "MILF" not only to her face but over the intercom.
  • In Turning Red, Devon appears tired and unfocused. Even when Ming accuses him of something really horrible, he seems so out-of-it he doesn't understand what is going on and doesn't even try to defend himself, simply answering what he's asked and only seeming to realize what's going on when he sees the pictures and looks at Mei. However, given that he's later revealed to be a 4*Townie, it's possible that he's just been putting himself through overtime work so that he can afford the tickets to their performance at the SkyDome.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Christmas with the Kranks: The girl at the front desk of the tanning salon is a bubbly/ditzy version of this trope. After Nora bumps her head and starts bleeding, she finds the girl at the front desk listening to music instead of doing her job. The girl is clearly annoyed when Nora asks for a band-aid. When Nora also asks for a towel, she gets frustrated and tells Nora to "Make up your mind!"
  • Clerks: Dante and Randall both don't seem to care about their jobs working in a convenience store and video store; while Dante hates working there, Randall enjoys its undemanding nature and notes that his job would be perfect if it wasn't for the customers.
  • A convenience store clerk in Grosse Pointe Blank remains unaware of the two heavily armed men engaged in a shoot out behind him because he is playing an arcade game and listening to music through headphones whilst at work!
  • Jumanji: Van Pelt goes to a gun shop to get more ammo, and then a new gun upon learning his model of gun is obsolete. The store clerk initially tells Van Pelt that he'll need to submit to a background check and sign some paperwork, but changes his tune when Val Pelt drops some gold coins in front of him. For what it's worth, the clerk does ask if Van Pelt is a postal worker before finalizing the sale.
  • SHAZAM! (2019) features a late-hour convenience store clerk who gives a remarkably lethargic reaction to seeing a superhero in red and gold tights asking for beer. She does, however, react much more naturally upon getting robbed... and getting treated to the bizarre sight of said superhero learning he's bulletproof and egging the crooks on to keep shooting at him before taking care of them.
  • Young Adult: The young female clerk at the hotel where Mavis stays at her hometown is a classic example, never speaking above a monotone even when Mavis clearly sneaks a dog in a bag into her room.

  • In John Updike's short story "A&P", Sammy hates his Soul-Sucking Retail Job as a cashier, and he only perks up when Queenie and her friends — in nothing but bikinis — enter the store. His boss berates them, though, for not at least covering up their shoulders, and that is Sammy's tipping point. He quits right then and there out of frustration, despite acknowledging it to be a bad idea.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Raising Hope: Sabrina does not like her job as the check-out girl at the local Howdy's, often spending her days making snarky comments about the store. In one episode, she even admits she feels like she's better than her coworkers, though this is driven by her feelings of inferiority because her rich friends went on to have more successful lives. Her attitude gets worse in an episode that looks at what would've happened if Hope were never born. In this timeline, Howdy's gets turned into a liquor store where the female employees must wear revealing clothes. This hardens Sabrina's personality, causing her to get breast implants and start turning tricks at the store.
  • Series/Futureman: Jeri is apathetic enough about her job to get more into Josh's investigations than her actual job. She also looks upon the feud between Kornish and Camillo with detached amusement.
  • The Guest Book: The Indians at the call center because they mistakenly believe that a guest is so angry and irritable just because he wants to get on his social media (it's actually because he needs to deliver a eulogy for his grandmother's funeral).
  • Its Alwayssunny has a lot of people who fall under this trope outside of the main five. It's part of the reason they can get away with so much. The morgue supervisor who lets Charlie and Dee have sex with corpses for a price or the water park attendants who don't alert authorities that Dee and Mac have gotten stuck on a ride are good examples.
  • Shameless (US): A dark version of this trope appears when Fiona gets a job as a check out girl. Her manager tells her if she wants her job, she'll have to give him oral sex. She manages to record their conversation and blackmails him into giving him the job. However, she learns that the manager is forcing the other female cashiers to perform oral sex. She gets them all together to discuss coming forward and getting the manager fired. Some are on board with this, but others are against it, claiming it's not that bad. One points out the manager lets them take sick days when they aren't sick, which his replacement might not do. In the end, they put it to a vote and decide against turning in their manager. To make things worse, the other cashiers turn on Fiona after learning she hasn't performed oral sex on their manager, feeling that she's not pulling her weight.
  • Sonny with a Chance: There's a series of sketches on SoRandom called "The Check Out Girls", which is about two stereotypical Valley Girls who work as cashiers. They spend most of their time talking to each other and insulting the customers. In one skit, they nonchalantly react to someone trying to rob them at gunpoint.
  • Corner Gas: Wanda, the Brilliant, but Lazy employee of the titular establishment, prefers doing crosswords to actual work. Brent himself also has shades of this. On the one hand, he is the owner, and thus is a little more invested in running a successful business. On the other hand, as the only gas station in town, he knows he can get away with subpar service (for the most part). In fact, when he gets a job shadow from the local high school, he ends up firing her for being too good and getting his customers used to a higher level of service than he's able or willing to provide.

  • "Konbini" by Brief & Trunks is about a teen who goes to a convenience store late at night. The song makes it clear that the clerk is a bored part-timer with a stoic expression.

    Video Games 
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: Slater works the night shift at a convenience store and therefore thinks nothing of using work time to promote his Garage Band or sell you weapons on the side — in fact, you can't buy his nominal employer's products from him.
  • Undertale has Burgerpants, who keeps up a paper-thin smiling facade until you buy something from him... then drops it for a Deadpan Snarker attitude and complete apathy towards his job.
    "Don't be like me, kid. I'm nineteen years old and I've already wasted my life."
  • In the Animal Crossing series:
    • Phyllis, who works at either Town Hall or the Post Office depending on the game, is a complete jerk who is crass, rude, and loudly complains about having to do her job when you come in. It's less that she's rude by nature (she's very protective of her sister, Pelly) and more that she's stressed out since she works the graveyard shift. She's a bit softer when you meet her during her off-hours at the Roost.
    • Played with at the Able Sisters tailor shop with Sable, who is quite dismissive and quiet to you when you first come in. If you keep talking to her every day, however, she'll slowly warm up to you, begin sharing intimate details about her life, and eventually become more friendly than her sister, revealing that she's just incredibly shy rather than apathetic.
  • In Yandere Simulator, The Convenience Store clerk in Buraza Town is a teenage girl that clearly hates her job. You can tell by her inner thoughts and her bored expression that she wants customers to leave her alone as soon as possible.

  • Roxanne, Renee's younger sister in Ennui GO! was an intern at Venus' DA office and clearly showed complete disinterest in her work, even if the job involved killing somebody. Indeed, a running gag throughout her appearances is her constantly asking her boss whether or not she could go home.
  • Ziggy, the clerk at the convenience store in Goober Grove. Ze holds an apathetic attitude towards Rosco trying to rob zir, and considers being Buried Alive an improvement to showing up to work, since it gives zir some time off.

    Web Video 
  • Most of the people who work the Hellp Desk in Hells Belles formerly worked in customer service who now take a certain glee in ignoring the people who come to the desk to complain about being in Hell (who are often Karen-types who want to speak to the manager/complain about their lack of customer service). Being insistent with them generally raises their ire where they stop being apathetic and start being Deadpan Snarkers
    • Derrick/ Dante the demon teenager who's also the only person on the Hellp Desk who isn't a volunteer (he's being punished for sneaking into the mortal world and haunting a house, causing the owner of said house to complain once she'd gotten to the afterlife), takes this up a notch while unsupervised by just sending everyone who comes to the desk down a trapdoor to Level Nine, including people who were supposed to go to other levels, lost souls who were supposed to go somewhere other than Hell, visitors and messengers, and the soul whose house Dante had haunted, much to her annoyance

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • After being exposed to Joker's laughing gas and thrown into a vat of chemicals, news anchor Jack Ryder is transformed into The Creeper. One of his first acts is to go to a clothing store in order to make his superhero costume. He manages to scare everyone out of the store, except for a store clerk who watches him as he finds his costume and asks how he'll pay in a monotone voice. Despite her total screen time being less than a minute, fans have named her Thrifty. Given she works in Gotham City, she probably has a high tolerance for weirdness.
    • Similarly is the bartender of the Stacked Deck, who is completely desensitized to violence and costumed weirdos since his place is frequented by mobsters, henchmen, and super-criminals. When a riot and gunfight breaks out, he simply slumps on the counter to watch the show and slides a bowl of peanuts toward himself.
    • But the greatest of them all may well be the landlady from "Joker's Millions", who manages a flophouse where The Joker is currently hiding out and asks for his rent with a completely unimpressed face. Though to be fair, she knows he's broke, and unlikely to waste any time/resources retaliating.
  • Family Guy: Carl the clerk at a local convenience store is a stereotypical stoner who is more interested in talking about movies than doing his job. In an episode where both Meg and Chris get a job working at the convenience store, he promotes Chris over the hard-working Meg, because Chris also likes talking about movies. When Meg complains, he fires her.
  • Gravity Falls: Wendy is often this, meeting the crazy antics of Stan with either apathy or snarky remarks, and is usually slacking off with her friends or lazing around instead of doing any actual work at the register.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes: Enid puts as little effort into her job at Gar's Bodega as possible. She prefers to lounge around rather than help customers with anything. On her first day, she was the complete opposite: nervous to the point of sweating profusely to please even the most unsatisfiable of customers. Mr. Gar taught her to learn how to assert herself and stand up to them after a particularly bad run-in, and she's never helped another customer since.
  • The Simpsons: In "Selma's Choice", the customer service lady at Duff Gardens is this. All she has to say to patrons' many, many complaints is "get bent".
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Squidward Tentacles. There’s a reason he’s the page image. He’s the cashier at the Krusty Krab, and he openly hates every minute of it. Along with having his annoying neighbor as his co-worker, he has to deal with indecisive customers and watch them gorge on unhealthy, lowbrow food and his greedy boss. He treats everyone with contempt and speaks in a deadpan monotone while at work, never smiling; the one time he did smile at work was when the Krusty Krab was briefly rebranded as the Krabby O'Mondays and he was forced to smile like everyone else was, lest he be sent to Human Resources (a big scary thug). In “Ditchin'”, it was implied by Patrick that he calls in sick just so he can get out of work.
    • When SpongeBob was shopping at a store, he starts talking to a cashier who isn't happy to see him. During this exchange, SpongeBob pulls out a picture of how the cashier looked on his first day, happy and cheerful, in contrast to his current behavior.
    • Another episode had a cashier who didn't react at all to SpongeBob running and crying in and out of the store as he kept coming back for more nightlights.
    • Yet another episode had a cashier calmly putting up with Mr. Krabs attempting to use several expired coupons on his purchase.
  • Wander over Yonder: The clerk at the gas station convenience store in "The Nice Guy" is a snarky teenager who does his best to ignore Wander's goofy antics trying to get Sylvia a drink.
  • In the We Bare Bears episode "Primal", after his brothers go mad with hunger on an ill-planned Horrible Camping Trip, Grizzly hijacks a parked car and drives them to a nearby fast-food restaurant. The cashier at the drive-thru window not only effortlessly translates Panda and Ice Bear's maddened growls into an order, but is completely unfazed by the sight of three bears (two of which are viciously mauling each other in the back seat) paying for the food.