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3/20/05

12:15 - 6:00 PM express cashier

My very first customer paid with a $100 bill (there are no twenties in a new drawer.) My last customer paid with an EBT card that wasn't working, at the same time one front end supervisor was on break, and the other involved in some convoluted exchange, so we had to wait for over five minutes for HH to get free, and then it was declined. I had a late punch out (6:08). Both HH and MM asked me if it put me over 6 hours, but since I started at 12:15, it didn't. If you work less than 6 hours, you only get one break. If you work more, you get a lunch as well. So I suppose going over 6 hours would cause some kind of problem.

In between, I had a steady flow of customers. One young woman, within a group was talking to her friends in line, saying that she usually writes on Sundays, and that she'll be on Oprah some day once her book gets published. I asked her what she was writing about. She said it was a romance, about being spiritual and meeting someone who is spiritual, and how important spirituality is.

During my break, AL was in the break room eating dinner. I had seen him once before during a morning shift. He is very thin and looks like he is sick. He also has a quiet, high voice, and is effeminate. Whe I first saw him earlier, I wondered how he fit in with everyone. He asked me if I was done for the day, and then told me he was, but that he had to eat. He then told me he has been here 5 years; he started when he was 16 and now he's 21. I asked hi if he liked it. He said the flexible hours were good. He then said he was in school at LeMoyne, studying English. He is writing an honors thesis on Dickens, specifically on Dickens and education. He's applied to go to Hunter College for an MA/MS program in English and secondary education. I had to draw him out a little to get more details all along, and he had very particular answers. I said I didn't know that Dickens was involved in education reform. He said he was, working on education and tired to develop his own "Ragged Education," which was a reform movement for children who worked in factories, but that Dickens didn't care for the movement's morality. At this point, AL, an older woman whom I had also seen before, walked in. She commented that this was how Sunday school started--to educate young factory workers. She said it wasn't just about morals, but also teaching reading and arithmetic. She then said she just heard and analysis of the "Wizard of Oz" as a political satire, particularly about the wizard as the president--an ordinary person behind smoke and mirrors.

 
3/19/05

7:00 PM - 12:00 AM express cashier

I feel all alone when I'm on the express register. They are really separated from all the other registers. Tonight I was on one of the smaller ones (supposedly 15 items or less), and this one had everything reversed: the belt was on my left and the register on the right--all the other registers have the belt on the left, etc. It actually took me about an hour to get used to it. I commented on this to HH, who was the front end supervisor tonight, and she said she hated working over here too--people never saw her standing there--she's about 5 feet tall, and they are right next to the self-serve scanners.

There was another cashier working on the register ahead of me, but only for about 15 minutes, and she wasn't very talkative, and neither was I. I saw FF on my way in--we just said hi, how long are you on until, etc. I did compliment on her hair, since she had changed it since I last saw her.

I had a lot of the regular mix of people, plus a few more college types. There were more people buying snack food-- cookies, ice cream, tortilla chips, as well as breakfast food and beer. I tried to be better about ID-ing people. I usually think I can tell when someone is old enough, but thought it would be noticed if I entering in visual identification too much. So, I just told people " I know you're old enough, but I have to check." Several groups of guys came through, each buying their own 6 or 12 pack. I did have two orders of 6 or 7 cases and twelve packs or different varieties. Two men were from Ontario, and their licenses were sort of cool--plastic, like credit cards, with a nice image on it. People were also buying a lot of pet food.

It seemed like a lot of people didn't stick to the 15 items rule. There isn't really any space to put things if you have more than two bags of stuff, and I was always trying to shuffle things around. One woman got this right away--she said she had to deal with this when she worked at Wal Mart. Another man was buying several cases of bottle water (gallon jugs in a box). He said he couldn't lift it because he had a bad back, so I did. He commented that I was strong, and then said I was tall too. Another man said "God bless you" when he left-- I have the feeling he says this to people and not because they've sneezed. I also had a woman who told me she always wanted to be a cashier. I wish I could've come up with a appropriate response, but I didn't ( I have to thing of better ways of intervening in these conversations). She then complimented me on my bagging.

There seemed to be more customers who were tired, grumpy, or desperate in my line tonight. Many just had a certain amount they could spend, and would hand me things to ring up in a prioritized order, and when it reached a certain dollar amount, they'd stop, leaving things behind. I also hand a few people who paid for things with a Coinstar receipt and bottle return slips.

Earlier in the night, there was a group of young women who were sort of loud in the line--trying to figure out something to do. They then walked a full cart through and one of them took a picture when they were walking through. I mentioned this to FF, whom I saw during my break, and she said the same thing happened to her.

There was a tiny lull when I had about 10 minutes left of my shift. I was running out of coins--had no quarters, but thought I could make it. Then, in about 5 seconds, I had a huge line. I was able to ring everyone through quickly and just used up all my dimes and was able to punch out more or less on time. I said goodnight to HH, who didn't seem too happy about being scheduled for several shifts ending at midnight. Last week, I sort of thought, for no particular reason, that maybe she didn't like me, but she was friendlier to me tonight. I feel like all the front end supervisors think I'm okay--I don't know why this matters to me but I'm a real geek when it comes to wanting to do a job well.

I brought my camera in tonight, and was able to take about 3 furtive photographs. I took one of the breakroom. After I took the second one, down the hallway, I noticed a security camera bubble, and then got sort of paranoid about doing this. I did walk over to the anti-union poster and took a quick shot of it, but then felt like it was enough for tonight.

 
3/18/05

7:30 AM - 4:00 PM express cashier

I came in early to "level shelves," which means make the front of the shelves look nice--just pulling forward the first row of things and straightening up. I started in the soup aisle, and at the end of an hour or so, I was only two-thirds of the way through one side of the aisle. I now know where to locate any kind of soup in the store, plus varieties of mac and cheese and baked beans. I had no idea if I was going fast or slow, until AF started on the other end, and I seemed to be going at least as fast as he was. Some cans of beans were really bugging me-- I would stack them and they would continue to fall over. These were the smaller cans of Bush's baked beans, and they were in an older style can. I thought of old pictures of grocery stores with pyramids of cans and how easily they must have tumbled. I asked AF how often they do this, and he said every day. They usually do it on the night shift, but they are having trouble finding people to work the night shift. AF is switching from the front end to stocking.

PP rescued me at 9:00 (when my scheduled shift started). I was called over the PA system to the front end. In the aisles, I could hear the muzak much better--heard Solisbury Hill again. I could also hear the EZ scans (self-service scanners), and realized the voice on the EZ scans is the same as the voice that makes store announcements intermittently between muzak--such as Price Chopper now features some cheese that won an award and the World Cheese Festival. I wondered who is the woman who is the voice of Price Chopper (I guess my mind wandered a bit more during shelf leveling than it does when I'm on the register.)

For the rest of the day I was on one of the Express registers, number 11. In the morning I was selling mainly breakfast stuff--orange juice, bagels, bacon, etc. I don't know what the limit of items on my register was supposed to be, I'd guess 20 items, because I still had a surprisingly large amount of stuff going through. During the day, I had more elderly customers. One customer, who I remembered from last week, stopped and said hello on her way in. I like her because she seemed very sweet, sort of shy, and sort of ditzy-spastic (in a good way). In the afternoon I had more of the regular mix of people--women shopping in pairs, working men stopping off on their way home from work. For some reason I had 4-5 people buying large bags of dog food (more than I had seen in a day before). Also, a lot of soda and meat and dinner food--meat and salad stuff, or fish, including prepared fish from the deli. Also, more plants. One woman bought a big easter lily, another bought 3 bamboo shoots--she said they are easy to grow, you just have to water them. I also sold some Palms (Palm Sunday coming up). I had a customer, a woman, whose voice was like Marge Simpson's sisters--reall low and gravelly, but without a lot of vlume, so it was hard to hear her. He wanted some frozen pasta--12 bags of it, and there were only 4 in the freezer aisle. I called TT over, and he said whatever is in the aisles in pretty much what we have.

The store seemed really busy, but I felt like I was in my own little bubble at number 11. One customer told me to slow down--he said I was going fast and to just take it easy. I felt like I was moving fast, but don't know if I am fast on the register or anything. But apparently I am thinking about speed today.

During my lunch, I talked with NN. He told me about a prank he pulled recently. He started a rumor that because there was so much reading material in the men's bathroom, people now had to punch in and out whenever they went to the bathroom--since people had time to read, they should go to the bathroom off the clock. This came up in the safety meeting two days ago--someone asked the guy from Schenectady about it--but then another person recognized it as a joke by NN, although everyone seemed to agree that it didn't seem like something that wouldn't happen.

During my last break, the new schedule was up--recently, it hasn't been up until later in the evening. I have Sunday off--I guess because of the holiday--but I don't mind. I was really tired at the end of the day--my back was hurting, something I haven't felt for a week or so. I also got only about 4 hours of sleep last night, which probably didn't help much. But in general, the day went by fast.

 
3/17/05

4:00 - 9:15 PM regular cashier

Tonight was a low-key night. I did notice earlier in the evening people were wearing green (St. Patrick's day and all), but I only wished a few people a happy St. Patrick's day. I forgot to wear green.

I did have a steady flow of customers, large and medium-sized orders. There were less EBT charges, but several WIC checks. One customer commented on how expensive infant formula is, and I couldn't help but agree ( around $13.00 for a can of powered formula). Most of the formula I do sell is through WIC. I had two customers who seemed embarrassed by their large carts and told me they only do shopping once a month. I could tell both grapes and frozen chicken drumsticks were on sale, but otherwise I had more people by produce and even some things from the health food section. The store put this area in a few months ago and I used to shop some in there (when I shopped here), but I usually don't see much of its products go through my line. I did have another sort of "eccentric"--he bought a lot of household things: light bulbs, work gloves, things from the hardware aisle, in addition to food. Usually people get one or two things like this (light bulbs or something), but I had never seem so much of it. I continue to have customers ask if the sale price was rung up--the monitor just shows the regular price, but puts and "A" next to anything that's an Advantage card sale, and then totals the Advantage card savings in another column. Only on the receipt does it show the sale price of each item. I either scan it under "Show Item" to ensure people that yes, indeed it is on sale, and then follow it up by showing them on the receipt, but I really wish they would change this--I get asked a lot about this, and many people are careful about what they buy.

I did ring up several employees. NN came through, as well as AH, a woman I recognized from the Customer Service desk, AK, and two others. I realized it was pay day and wondered if this was why. Luckily, the line at the Customer Service desk wasn't long when i had my break, and I was able to pick up my check. The first few times I did this, I was asked for ID, but no longer. I put $1 into the 50/50 drawing, and when I did the woman commented/ asked me if I wasn't cashing my check.

During my break, there was some sort of training thing going on in the breakroom. It wasn't orientation, because I recognized many of the people there as having been there a while (maybe not too long, but longer than me). I sat out in the hall. There are two bulletin boards in the hall by the computer room. Each is decorated: one has names of employees and how long they've worked there, I assume March being their anniversary. PP has 21 years, another woman has 17 years, and then about ten others, ranging from 1 to 7 years. On the other board are people's names and birthdays for March. Both of these boards have the names cut out with zig-zag edges, and some sort of clip art icon on them. Across from this bulletin board is one of two identical posters hanging in the back which explain why signing a Union card is bad. It uses language like "union organizers and pushers," and that the law "protects you from not having to sign a union card." It has an image of a sample union card from the ALF-CIO, and proceeds to explain that a union may come in without an election, that it doesn't guarantee anything, and that signing a union card will give you no special treatment. I really must take a photograph of this poster.

I saw FF during my break--she was just starting , and was on the register next to me for the rest of the night. She is very vivacious and joked with everyone all night--she's definitely more of a people person than me, and definitely more popular. AJ was my bagger for a while.He was in his second week and was still in training. He wants more hours, or else will have to find another job. He is a freshman at OCC, studying food service, and wants to open his own restaurant someday.

Right after my break, DD came by and asked me to sign a bunch of stuff that was highlighted. It was a packet of papers I recognized from training--all my tests and stuff, but I honestly didn't read anything I was signing, or had time to. About an hour before my shift was up, MM asked me if I could work at 7:30 am tomorrow. I agreed to (although I really didn't want to, but want to be a good employee). She said when I come in I'll be facing shelves, which is pushing things up to the front in all the aisles. After I punched out, I asked MM how I could change my availablity--that I couldn't work Fridays anymore. She had me fill out a form for this.

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