Register #atozchallenge

During college (circa 1974), I worked at Carson Pirie Scott & Company, at the time one of the major department stores in Chicago (all of which are now either gone or been renamed). While I was there, the company decided to replace all of the old mechanical cash registers with new electronic ones. The idea was to convert all the registers in the suburban stores first, then to convert the ones at the main store on State Street.

We were the first store to convert to the new registers, starting in June. I had just changed my major from Math to Computer Science, so I was really interested to see the registers and see what they could be made to do, and had all kinds of questions about them. I guess they figured that the best way to keep me from snooping and hacking them was to make me a trainer. I helped train most of the associates at my store, then was asked to help them train the people downtown.

I learned a lot that summer, most of which had nothing to do with the registers or the workings behind them. The associates at State Street were generally older and more set in their ways, and a lot of them had a chip on their shoulder about having to learn how to use a totally new machine to ring up their sales. There were some touchy moments and short tempers, and it was my job to not only teach the people I was training how to ring up sales and returns, I had to be patient and reassuring, encouraging them that they would learn what they were doing just as they had learned the old method. It was a hard sell for some of them, but none of them blew up at me or ran out of the room screaming.

A couple of years earlier, I told my mother, who was a Chicago Public School teacher, that I was thinking of going into teaching. She told me that if I went into teaching, she’d disown me. That summer I learned that there was teaching kids and teaching adults, and that pointed me in the right direction career-wise.

25 thoughts on “Register #atozchallenge

    1. Mom had fantastic benefits from the Chicago schools, probably because they knew that people don’t live too long after retiring. I swear, that job killed her: she retired at 65 and died three years later…

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  1. The one and only register I ever worked on was at a story franchise called, “Community” ! Do you remember them? I believe it was 1968… oh wait, there was another that all I did was press buttons and pull the lever at a restaurant now that one was old, but it worked. I finally quit a fine dining restaurant where they just got the new ones in & they worked like computers when I quit to go to school & I became a paralegal/legal assistant. I see them today & those registers scare me. Soooooooooooo many buttons. Gotta lotta respect for these kids knowing how to do those. Dang, a lot of buttons for sure! bwahahahaha Stay healthy my friend, stay strong and STAY HOME!!!! hugs

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  2. Working at Michaels was the first time I had ever used a cash register. Fortunately it was pretty easy to learn. Still, not something I’d want to do long term!

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    1. They’re generally pretty simple, but then there are companies that make it difficult because they decide to use every feature delivered with the machine, things like type in the SKU number and whatnot.

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    1. Darn near every department store in the Chicago area has either been renamed (as in the case of Marshall Field’s becoming Macy’s) or gone out of business. Carsons, Wieboldt’s, Lytton’s, Baskin, Goldblatt’s…

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  3. My dad was a school principal and my mom was a teacher. I didn’t go into teaching and neither did any of my sisters. My older daughter considered it, until she took a job as a teaching assistant.

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    1. Mary thought she might want to go into teaching, so she tried working as a sub. She did about two months of that before she said “screw this.” Mom, who taught for 37 years, said she wasn’t surprised. I think it killed her, personally.

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  4. Yeah, I’m with your mom..I would run screaming. I’m not surprised at how many resisted the new registers because to scary to them so they shut down and do everything they can to block the ability to learn.

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      1. I once was able to tour the company museum at Borough’s headquarters. They began as American Arithmometer. They had upright machines that ran off a flywheel and could calculate loan balances, savings interest and produce loan coupons and statement. It was fascinating.

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        1. I worked on Burroughs computers when I first started working. Nice machines: the operating system was written in ALGOL, which I just happened to have taken when I was a computer science major. I’ve seen their ten-column adding machines, which I’m sure they don’t make anymore. Rather impressive hardware there..

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