Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Where's the candid camera?

Yes, I'm still a cashier.

No, I'm not going to mark down your candy bar to one cent. Acme, which acquired the store I worked for in January, brought in a more demanding atmosphere. I don't know if it was the management changing or the quality of the store going steadily downhill, but I feel different. A lot different.

As I reported in an old entry, I was a cashier at a supermarket called Shop 'n Bag (an alter ego of Thriftway, which a customer referred it to today). Up until the summer of 2007, I did very little else than work the cash register and fold up paper-and-plastic bags, due to my runaway attachment to one task and one task only. From then until the ultimate takeover by Supervalu, which was supplying food to us from May 2006 to December 2006 (during which time we were known as Brigantine Supermarket), I got to push carts and put away unwanted items. I initially got into these side tasks thinking, on my father's advice, that I needed to 'broaden my horizons', and expected little more than what I was doing now when I signed on as a cashier when Acme had us reapply.

The truth is, however, I'm doing a lot more. And I actually like cleaning, doing maintenance, and pushing carts more than I like working the register. There are two reasons I can think of:

  • I do not like change. Because the store is much more active and the stores are encouraged to keep everyone busy whilst the lines are short, cashiers are sent off to do scrubbing or trash removal. For me in particular, being sent back to register during a customer surge is horrible. I started the task in the hopes of finishing it and commending myself on a job well done, and I expected to finish it, and my frustration at never getting the chance shows in my communication with the customer; what would have been a lively 'hello' in the aisles when a customer approached to learn where to find an item became a meagre grunt in acknowledgement when asking for their loyalty card or announcing their coupons. I've also taken my anger out on a manager once over this fact; it took a full day to recover.
  • Under the management preceding Acme, the store was dirty. There were not as many people cleaning as there were under Acme (since there were no dedicated carryout or bagger positions, the holders of said posts being available for menial tasks). As a bagger, which I was for the past few weeks, I actually got to clean up the store and make things look nice for customers. When a customer is happy to find something on the shelf or have the terms of a sale explained, I'm happy.
Matt, the manager of the store who also runs Acme's Somers Point location, can be a demanding person, although he means well. If there's any inspiration for me to go anywhere in the company, provided I stay there long enough, I'll have to credit him. I feel bad, though, that for all he's had me do with the physical upkeep, my room is still a mess with wires, cables, magazines and union newsletters on the floor and my clothes unfolded. I'm glad he's never over at my house, at the very least.

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