Marketplace has a new podcast for kids, "Million Bazillion!" EPISODE OUT NOW
United States of Work

Meet Gaile, 70, convenience store cashier

Kai Ryssdal and Maria Hollenhorst Feb 18, 2020
Melissa Lyttle
United States of Work

Meet Gaile, 70, convenience store cashier

Kai Ryssdal and Maria Hollenhorst Feb 18, 2020
Melissa Lyttle

We talked to 10 people who roughly represent the 164 million-person U.S. labor force. Ten stories, one question: “Is the economy working for you?” Meet Gaile.

  • Name: Gaile Harrell
  • Occupation: Customer service, Royal Farms
  • Based in: Ashburn, Virginia
  • Daily commute: About 2 miles by car
  • Age: 70

The numbers on Gaile:

  • Gaile is included in one of the fastest growing segments of the labor force — workers over the age of 55. 
  • Her job falls into the broad category of “sales and office occupations,” along with the work of about 20% of the labor force. Those jobs include telemarketers, mail carriers, bank tellers, retail workers, receptionists and a range of others.

Gaile Harrell has been working the cash register at Royal Farms, a convenience store chain, for about two years. Before working for Royal Farms, she spent 29 years with USAA as a claims adjuster. On average she works 12-20 hours a week. In her spare time she volunteers for AARP, is active with the local Red Hat Society (an international women’s social organization) and helps take care of her 5-year-old granddaughter. She also works polls during elections.

What’s the hardest part about your job that nobody knows?

There’s really nothing too difficult about it. One thing I don’t like doing is counting all the cigarettes in the morning.

What’s the one tool you can’t do your job without?

I couldn’t do my job without a cash register.

When you were a kid, what job did you think you were going to have when you grew up?

I wanted to be a flight attendant!

What was your first job?

I got a job at the People’s Drug Store when I was 16 or 17 years old. It was kind of like a CVS. I worked the cash register that was in the back of the pharmacy.

Click the media players below to hear how Gaile’s story evolved:

February 2020 ^
April 2020 ^
November 2020 ^
April 2021

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.