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3/12/05

3:30 PM-11:15 PM regular cashier

More and more, I am losing the distance from this job that I had at first. Today was a looong day, and I feel like I am at Price Chopper a lot. I am sort of glad of this in some ways, since this whole thing is about the experience of work, but I do find that I have to remind myself that I have a whole other life. I am feeling more confident on the register, and am getting faster at scanning and produce, making less mistakes.

I had two older men, almost in a row, who seemed to think I was "another" dumb cashier. The first man, who seemed quite eccentric--tan trench coat, greasy hair, glasses--only bought 4 items (double-sided tape and something else like that) which were in a 90% off cart. I looked at the price tags, which didn't reflect the percentage off, and wasn't sure how to ring them up. I got out my calculator and started to figure it out, but he suggested the math to me, so I did it his way, which got me a little confused ( I had another formula in my head), but we worked it out, and I rang it up manually. The second man asked me about toilet paper--the sign said 2 for $11.98, and he wanted to know if this meant one was $5.99. I said I didn't know, but I could check. He said "I know this is a hard question for you," or something like that. I replied that sometimes it is one for the sale price, and other times it isn't, and then ran a price check for him and showed him that it was, indeed, $5.99 for one.

The other customers I remember well from today was a group--two women and a man, who were together and bought 6 carts worth of groceries, in three separate orders. One was close to $400.

I was on the register until my "lunch" break, at around 7, and when I returned I was put on bagging. The store had slowed down a lot. I worked among three different lanes that were open with no baggers. For a while, I was at the far end with EE and AH. AH, who I just met, asked me, "so how old are you? Married? Kids?" I told her my age and that I'm not really into marriage--been there done that. She was kind of fun. EE liked it when it was slow--like massage (he's studying massage therapy). I told him I didn't--that time went faster when it was busy. The three of us seemed to get along well.

Earlier, I was bagging next to EE, and he was bagging for AI, who I think was interviewed at the same time I was, and was in orientation with me. EE had mentioned, during our training together, that his ex-girlfriend was just hired in the store. I asked him if AI was his ex, and if he wanted to switch with me. He said yes, she was, and no, it was sort of interesting to be bagging for her. AI seemed totally un-enthused about work, in that teenager blase way. Almost all of us who were working tonight had just started within the last month.

I keep on overhearing little comments about BB--she is definitely not liked. I still haven't heard concrete reasons why, except for NN's story about being written up for having to leave early a lot because he was obviously sick.

Around 9:30-10:00, we started to get people who seemed to shop at night. There were also some college-looking types, who I expected to see, buying beer and munchy-type things. I think most of the beer purchases were going through the express lane, though, so I didn't see too many of them. I did remember to ID every one in a group who were buying beer--they made it easy be collecting all of their licenses for me. HH, the front end supervisor, called me aside afterwards just to check to make sure I had ID'd everyone.

The breakroom was empty both times I was there tonight. I wish I had brought my camera. I got my schedule for next week--I'm on more nights and except for one shift, I'm going to be on the Express register most of the time. I've heard most cashiers don't like being on Express because they have to bag themselves. I feel like I've only had a bagger a little over half the time, so we'll see if it's much different.

I had asked for tomorrow off, because my mother is visiting, and I got it off, and I have to say I am glad. Although my body isn't as sore as it was last week--either I'm lifting better or else my muscles have caught up with me--my brain is starting to get tired.

 
3/11/05

10:00 AM- 4:00 PM regular cashier

I am getting tired from working so much, but I am still enjoying my work. It is starting to feel like a regular job for me. It was very busy in the store today, and either not enough people were scheduled in the morning and/or several people didn't show up, so we were all working hard. NN told me that there was only him and one other guy all day, which meant the two of them had to handle all the bottles and carts. PP and DD were the front end supervisors, and BB was around as well.

I had a lot of big orders, a lot of people buying seafood and fish. Several people bought passover products, and several cakes went through also. Earlier in the day, most customers were women and senior citizens, later more working men appeared, and more prepared food was purchased. I had two different women who remembered me from last week when I still had my "Cashier Training in Progress" sign up. I chatted with them more and told them I hope to see them next week.

In the afternoon, I was without a bagger for a while. Two women who were shopping together, each with a full cart, came through. One started joking that they always ended up in the line without a bagger. Then, she started saying that she saw all these other people just standing around, and why don't they help? I rang up the first order and started bagging and said I didn't mind. Then, she said the white cashiers never have baggers. This comment suprised me, a lot, but I couldn't think of anything to say. She mentioned wanting to talk to a manager several times, but didn't directly ask me to speak with someone, so I left it alone and just tried to ring up and bag things as fast as I could. She said I was doing great, it wasn't my fault. I really didn't want her to talk to a manager, because I didn't want anyone to think I had complained, which I didn't.

When I first came in, I saw AG in the break room. She said she had thought about something I had said yesterday: that is is easier to have two jobs, because when you're sick of one, you go to the other. She asked where I worked, and then asked me if I also went to school. I said I had already gone to school, and had studied art. She said that is what she'd like to study, and then asked if there were jobs in graphic design, using a computer. I said I know people who did that. She asked if it was hard to get, and I said it was competitive, but if you love what you're doing you'll work hard at it. She then said that she also thought of counseling, because she liked telling people what to do (which I laughed at, in a good way), but that she was interested in a lot of things. I had to punch in, so our conversation was cut short.

During my break, I talked with NN (but told him I wasn't hungry so he wouldn't buy me a slice of pizza). AA was learning how to knit from another woman. NN asked AA about doing orientation tonight. I asked AA how many times a year she does orientation, and learned she does it every week. I told her she did a good job, considering it was the same thing again and again. NN said he would peak in and pick out the ones he thought wouldn't last, and later AA would tell him if he was right. She then said that managers change so much, that if someone leaves because they don't like a particular manager, all they have to do is wait a year and most likely that person would change. NN asked if this was true for "The Furher" and AA shot him a stern (yet understanding) look. She then mentioned someone, who was before BB, who was very nice, in fact she was transferred from this store to a smaller one because "they' felt she was too nice--that she wasn't tough enough. I showed incredulity--and both AA and NN agreed that someone could be nice and tough as well.

NN also told me he had walking pneumonia in October, and BB had written him up--he had a job report--because he kept on having to leave early because he was sick. I asked him if he had benefits because of his military experience, if he could go to the VA hospital. He said he got his benefits through Price Chopper, and the VA hospital here was scary/not so good. But he did finally go to a doctor.

 
3/10/05

8:00 AM- 3:30 PM regular cashier

I was scheduled to be a bagger all day today, but PP, the front end supervisor, put me on the register because she wanted me to have more time to get the hang of it. Of all the front end supervisors, I like PP the best. She is calm and although quiet has a sense of humor. I needed that, because I wasn't going to win any cashier awards today: I was less than graceful with the scanner, fumbled people's groceries all day, couldn't remember any produce codes or find them fast, and kept on making tiny mistakes--forgetting to ring up coupons, etc. I didn't mess up in any major way, I just felt like I couldn't get into any flow and kept on stumbling.

It was slow in the morning. AG was on the register next to me. She told me she was going to start school soon at OCC, and so would be cutting back her hours. She also said she felt like she's been here too much lately; she usually has to work 35 hours to pay the bills. I had a returning customer-- my first customer from last week. There were many older customers today, as well as women with children, and several WIC checks. One pair of women who were shopping together have been best friends all their lives. One was buying groceries for the other; they joked that everyone thought they were sisters, and their children were born one year and one day apart, named alike (not the same name, but ones that rhymed), and were inseparable as well.

After lunch it was very busy in the store, and I had a steady stream and more large orders. I do prefer it this way, the time goes much faster and I get better on the register. One customer asked me if my arms got tired, I told her actually my back did from twisting. Another older man had broken his ribs in a fall, and NN helped him take his groceries to his car.

Perhaps because I was being a klutz all day and would comment on it, my co-workers and customers would tell me that they felt the same way today--that it was just a bad day, or it was Thursday; one woman said yesterday was like that for her. I was starting to feel a little stupid, especially around some of the more veteran cashiers, who were sometimes bagging for me. But everyone was helpful.

NN was trying to hang out with me all day. He would jump in and bag for me when he could. He was looking for me at lunch because he wanted to buy me pizza, but I didn't see him and promised to do so tomorrow. I do like talking with him, but now I'm wary because I don't want to go out with him and don't want to lead him on. He said he keeps on getting called to do things, and killed his 37th mouse today. He also told me about various practical jokes he would play on BB, but in a careful way so she won't write him up. Another guy, AF, asked me if I was in school. I told him I worked at SU. He asked if my boyfriend worked here and I just said no, leaving it at that. I may have to come up with a fake boyfriend.

During lunch, I looked through 2 small photo albums that I had seen on the windowsill of the breakroom. One was labeled "Our Team" and had pictures of people in their different areas--it was sort of spotty--pictures missing and only about half full. The other album was of different parties and activities: the Dec 2002 Christmas Party, Hat Day, Western Day, a Bagging Contest--most of these were from 2003. I didn't have much time to look through them carefully, and will have to make some time to look at them again.

After I punched out, relieved my day was over, I picked up my check--for $134.49. I also put $1 into the 50/50 drawing. I don't quite understand this, but each employees can put in $1 on payday (many people cash their checks right away at the Customer Service desk). Half of the money goes into a fund for the Christmas Party, and the other half is sort of a lottery--a name of an employee is chosen at random, whether or not he or she played, and if you did play that week, you get that half of the money from that week. This is hand printed on poster board, multicolor, in the hallway on the way to the breakroom.

After work, I stopped and bought a small calculator, some pens, and emory boards.

 
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