Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Grocery gettin'

I worked my way through high school and college in the supermarket biz.

Started as a Courtesy Clerk (box boy, cart runner), was promoted to Cashier (checker), did a stint as an Inventory Clerk (night stocker), and after 3 years was one of three Assistant Managers (swing shift). I was 18 and in charge of the entire market from 5:30 p.m. to closing time (2 a.m.) Isn't that scary.

Here in my small town (and from what I gather, across the state as well), when you make a purchase, the courtesy clerks wil carry your bags to your car for you.

Yep, whether it's a single tangerine, or a cart full of sacks.

The best part is the look on their faces when you tell them, "that's okay, I got it," as you take the cart out the door.

One young lad was stunned into inaction. He stared at me like I was a scab crossing the picket line, taking food and benefits from his growing family of 5.

I know I should submit and just let them do their job. I know that they are trained to multitask and the labor schedule is written to accomodate such a luxury as this. I know that they aren't expecting and won't accept tips.

But I'm just not ready to relinquish the right to take the shopping cart for a quick joy ride through the parking lot.

Like a dog hanging his head out the window of a pickup, spit flying off his tongue and sticking to the rear quarter panel like wallpaper paste, I enjoy my shopping cart rides. As they were when I was a kid getting groceries with my folks, then later as a teenager getting paid to round up carts, "parking lot races" still offer unparalleled domestic adventure in low speed, cheap thrills, and uncontrollable danger.

1 comment:

Dave said...

The self service idea does still seem to cause a cultural clash. I wonder how the people there who make their living doing this felt about the California grocery strike? I'd bet they were against it in general. And yet, the idea that people can take care of things for themselves is odd. We have the concept of a cultural union without actual organization.

I can't wait until you get around to talking about service stations. New Jersey is an odd coastal throw back in that department; my mom had no idea how to pump gas when she moved south in the mid eighties. She was so completely freaked out that I initially found it pretty funny.