"Okay, and your total's going to be...$19.73."
She smiled at me, that plaster smile that everyone learns after their first 8 hour shift at the Quick-E-Mart down the street from my apartment. And years later, when they're starting a family and a new career at a prestigious law firm, they still can't forget it. It'll become like a habit, her go-to when 8 hours and an angry customer at register number 3 are making her want to run so far away. Someday, when she's presenting an idea to a new client, she'll flash that smile without even realizing it.
It's not genuine, not even the least bit. And it's not taught, either. It learned, quickly, on the job. A necessity, like breathing. It calms, reassures, placates. And for the rest of her life, that's what it will do, when she least expects it, when she doesn't even realize that she's doing it.
"Have a great day," and she smiles as I pick up my change, and walk away.