8.8.1992 Part Two

Grocery workers are for the most part a down and out group of people. They fall into three catagories: The High School Student, might be their first job, The College Student, working full time or a heavy part time schedule so they can get through school, and the Career Grocery Worker. The Career Grocery Worker is where you don’t want to be. These are people that got locked into their job at some point in their lives because the benefits and the pay are decent enough even though the work is mundanely idiotic. The Career Grocery Worker can’t leave to start a different line of work since they would most likely take a serious pay cut and have to start back at the bottom. Well, they could leave to start another career but it’s damn rare that it works out. They usually don’t have anything else to fall back on and never did. So, year after year they stay at a store racking up hours in the union so they can get their next pay increase or a few more days of vacation the following year. There’s some great people and personalities here to be sure. Many have been locked into their jobs for decades. But the down and out goofball slash crackpot Career Grocery workers are by far the majority in any store. They can make things interesting, or extremely hellish and surreal. All depends on your point of view.

John is one of the good Career Grocery workers here. He’s a tower of a man with a friendly personality and a silly sense of humor. John is a hard worker. He’s our frozen food clerk and when he’s not stuck up in the checkstands he’s in the freezer box or he’s stocking the frozen food aisles. I remember when I first started working at the store I had to bag for John. When you first start out as a bagger you have to spend a little time getting to know each checker and get used to their little quirks and differences. They all seem to do things slightly different from each other and you’re in their space. John was easy enough to get along with in the checkstand. The first day I was bagging for John we had a customer that bought some leeks. A leek is just a giant sized green onion. The customer wanted paper bags and John waited until I put the leeks into a bag. He stopped everything and leaned over to me and said, “There’s a leek in that bag”. Then he just stared at me for a few seconds. I assume he was trying to make a joke that the bag had a hole in it and he was waiting with anticipation to see if I was going to empty the bag out and look for a hole, cause I must be a imbecile. Oh there’s a leak in the bag, ha ha. I just stared back at him. Doofus.

Casey is a little five-foot nothing blonde that thinks she’s something. She looks ok but she’s kinda weird. She loves the attention she gets from male customers in her checkstand and the rumor is a bunch of our guys have nailed her. She kinda gives me the creeps. When she’s checking she always wears white rubber gloves because she is a germ freak. She’s afraid that by handling people’s grocery items and their money all day that she will get sick. So she wears these gloves to the point of them turning dark brown and even black. It’s filthy. We’ve had a bunch of customer complaints about it since they don’t like having their produce handled by a woman with filthy gloves on. Nothing has been done about it so for now she wears the gloves. Casey has also had surgery on both her wrists for carpal tunnel syndrome. I guess that’s where you blow your wrists out from repetative motion and from what I hear it’s painful. She was out of work for months after the surgery and she has a funky way of running items over the laser scanner so she doesn’t re-injure her wrists.

Margaret is a down and out Career Grocery worker if I ever saw one. I think she’s had a particularly bad life. She is on the low end of the management food chain here. She gets to run the front end (checkstands) and close the store alot, but that’s about as far as her managerial duties go. Most of the time she’s just a glorified checker. She has jet black hair that’s long and curly. Her upper lip is covered with black stubble. It’s a faint moustache that I wish she’d shave off but she never does. Lookin’ really rough. Margaret is a stickler for store policy and she’s always trying to bust me and a few of the other guys for stupid shit. She suspects me of contributing to store mayhem but she’s never been able to catch me doing anything out of the ordinary. This frustrates her. There’s also something else about her personality that I can’t quite put my finger on, but it’s weird. Subtle mental illness perhaps? I dunno. She’s off-center for sure though, and been in her job for far too many years. She has a young son that keeps getting into trouble with the law and her man split the scene a long time ago.

Beano is a real screwball. He’s been employed here for a while and when I was bagging for him I was laughing almost all of the time. A ruthless mother fucker to customers. He will ask them how they are doing today and while they’re making small talk he will lean over his shoulder and mutter shit like “Shuddap you ugly bitch”. He does it through his whole shift and never gets caught. When he’s not in the checkstand his main job is Point Of Sales. He’s got to maintain the UPC code database and change price tags on all the items in the store when they go on and off sale. It’s a real chore. Beano also seems to have a particularly rugged time outside of work and I feel kinda sad for him. We call him Beano because whatever his wife must be feeding him each night makes him stink like an open sewer line the following day. He enjoys sneaking up on you and stealth-farting next to you as he slips back down the aisle undetected. He will wait around the corner until he hears people running to get away from the stink. He digs bombing us.

Mark has been here through high school and he grew up in my neighborhood. He’s the guy I’ve been having most of my grocery wars with. We get along all right but we’re always fucking with each other. He’s a tall skinny blonde haired dude that looks like he should be out beating up 99 pound weaklings at the beach. He’s obnoxious.

Mean Gene is a screwup. His pop is the receiving clerk in the back room and I think that had everything to do with Mene Gene getting a job here. I tolerate the guy but I think he’s real dumb. He’s weird lookin’ too. A Tall guy, with reddish blonde hair loosely curled. I think he has a slight gap in between his two front teeth.

Ray, Larry, and Jerry are our other managers and checkers. They are all decent enough guys. Larry is probably is goofiest of the three. Jerry is real laid back and Ray brews his own beer. Sometimes Ray is real cool to me and other times he’s kind of a Jackass. For the most part I like him. Mr. Temper Tantrum is the new store director here and he’s been systematically making a bad work environment into a much worse one.

Rad Rob works in the dairy department and checks alot in the early part of the day. Since his main job is stocking the dairy departmant and loitering around in the milk box he works early shifts before the store opens. After we’re open for business and customers start grabbing stuff from the milk shelves Rad Rob will mess with them a bit. He likes to freak out kids. He’ll moo at them as they grab a half gallon of milk from his shelf. A couple times I think he’s held onto whatever they were trying to grab so they can’t move it. For the rest of us he just yells insults and obscenities as we walk by and he sees us through a hole in his half gallons. I get “Pants Shitter” and “Dog Licker” yelled at me alot from the milk box as I walk by on the sales floor.

Tundra Wubbaduh is one of the female checkers here I despise the most. She’s horrendously overweight and can barely fit into her checkstand. Real dumb too. Tundra Wubbaduh speaks with a high pitched sickneningly sweet voice and treats everyone like they are a child. I hate her. She spends most of her breaks reading shoddy romance novels and consequently doesn’t know anything. Did I mention I hate her? She’s also a very slow checker. Put a snail on quaaludes and you have her approximate working speed.

The Colonel is our customer’s popular choice for checker. He’s always busy, super fast and extra friendly. He’s been working in the grocery business since high school and he’s actually good at it. The local rotary club has awarded him business accolades a few times and he knows most of our regular customers by name. They genuinely like him. He’s also a good boss to work for. Always fair, always gets the job done. The Colonel is fairly short and super scrawny. He’s got a high energy level and he never seems to stop working. If he’s not in the checkstand yapping it up with a customer he’s tearing off into the backroom to find something for someone or he’s stocking shelves. He’s a good guy. Usually packin’ heat too. He carries a pistol in his case so on nights when I have to close the store up with him I like knowing someone has some firepower around. It’s a good thing. Not that we’ve ever had a problem, but…

Tony is our liquor department guy and he’s usually out in the wine aisle if he isn’t stranded up in the checkstands. He seems cool enough but I don’t know him well.

Dang is the receiving clerk. He’s got a slight southern drawl when he speaks, and he speaks slowly. He’s been in the grocery business since back in the 1950s I think. The fifties must have been a golden period for Dang. His hair is pulled back in a greaser pompadour. He isn’t well liked by many people here because he’s so fucking lazy. Dang is the brunt of alot of practical jokes some of which are borderline mean. There’s nothing anybody can do about him though because he’s been in the union for so long the only way he could get thrown out of here is if he gets caught stealing. And that ain’t gonna happen. Dang is content to do the bare minimum his job requires and periodically take gobs of vacation off from work whenever it suits him.

Dustin has been a checker for some time now and he’s insane. Every customer gets asked the same question as soon as they walk into your checkstand, “Would you like paper or plastic bags today, ma’am”? Most of our customers are women and the vast majority of them have been shopping here for many years. So they’ve been relentlessly programmed to hear this question asked by us in the same general tone of voice each time they come in. It seems Dustin snapped one day and he changed the paper or plastic bags question to “Chop twist burn today, ma’am”? This is some sort of a stoner reference to rolling a joint, I think. Anyway the women always say “Paper” in response, or sometimes “Plastic” just like normal. It’s amazing- and hilarious. Occasionally Dustin changes the question to “Your tits look fantastic today ma’am” and they look at us with their beady dingbat eyes and say “Paper please” as if nothing happened. When he does this to an unsuspecting lady I’m laughing so hard I’m on the verge of tears. He’s only had a handful of women who *think* they heard something about their tits and glare at him but Dustin is quick on his feet. He will instantly ask them about the weather and then they tell us what kind of bags they want and continue on with the conversation. It’s awesome.

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~ by factorypeasant on August 24, 2004.

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