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United States of Work

Meet Gaile, 70, convenience store cashier

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

Meet Gaile, 70, convenience store cashier

Kai Ryssdal and Maria Hollenhorst Feb 18, 2020
Melissa Lyttle
HTML EMBED:
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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

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