In the first paragraph of "A&P," as the girls walk into the store, Sammy forgets whether he has already rung up a purchase and has to placate the angry customer when he makes a mistake. He says that he knows it made her day to trip him up and later remarks that "if she'd been born at the right time they would have burned her over in Salem."
This incident and his reaction to it provide the first sign that Sammy is bored and irritated with the mundane nature of his job. The intense scrutiny to which he subjects the girls when they enter also highlights just how bored he is and how seldom anything happens to break the monotony of his working day. He refers to the typical customers, dowdy middle-aged women accompanied by their children, in a jaded manner and remarks on the repetitive nature of the tasks he has to perform. It is particularly telling when he says that "after you do it often enough," the pattern of sounds made by operating the till arranges itself into a song, to which he has assigned words. The mind-numbing routine which Sammy emphasizes by describing such details, along with the excitement created by the arrival of the girls, foreshadow Sammy's apparently impulsive decision to quit his job.