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4/10/05

10:45 AM- 6:00 PM Courtesy Clerk

When I walked in the store, right by the entrance was "Chabad's Model Matzah Bakery," with around 20 kids wearing paper hats. The man I had seen the night before, who is a rabbi, was teaching them how to make matzah. I was assigned to bag for register 20, which is near this entrance, so I was able to watch more. AK, who was the cashier, was interested too, and asked me to see if there was a recipe book. I grabbed a copy of a booklet that was in the display, but it was "Passover Haggadah, brought to you by the Maxwell House Family of Coffee." It is in English and Hebrew. I told AK that I thought it was just flour and water. AK thought it tasted better than just those ingredients. She then said that she knew that [Jewish people] aren't supposed to drink milk with meat. Shortly after this conversation, an older couple went through the line with a lot of Passover products, so I asked them when was Passover. They told me it was on the 23rd. AK asked me if I was Jewish, and I said no, but I have Jewish friends. A little while later the Rabbi came through our line. He said to me that he wished he could remember what I did when I had helped him before, but it was very smart and showed I was not the usual cashier. I quickly wanted to drop the subject, both because I didn't want to draw attention to myself, and I was also thinking I'd been found out by a rabbi. I asked him how matzah is made, and he started to tell me about how the wheat is specially grown and prepared, and how the flour and water cannot be together for more than 18 minutes, or else it is considered leavened. He said that bakeries store the wheat in a special place, and keep it separate for water until the time to make it. As he was explaining this to me, LL had come over, and I felt distracted and that I couldn't talk with him long. He seemed to sense I was loosing interest or something, and so stopped the explanation. The bakery display was quickly dismantled and replaced by stacks of 12 packs of Price Chopper soda.

A woman came through the line and needed a Price Chopper card and yelled for LL, calling her "Trailer girl" (or something-- I can't quite recall). The women used to work here, until she "scratched the eyes out of an optometrist who was being rude." LL and she joked about it. LL and AK were whispering to each other a few times, and then LL told AK that BB wanted to talk with her. Later, I overheard LL tell AZ that she should also talk to BB, but AZ said she just wanted to drop it. I have no idea what was going on, but couldn't help being drawn into thoughts of a complaint or conspiracy or something.

In contrast to yesterday, it was very busy in the store, but there was also a lot of people working. All the teenagers were working today. I ended up rotating through to different registers, and at one point didn't have anything to do, so I was sent to pick up all the stuff that's left at the entrance to the register lines and reshop.For a little while I was bagging for BC. She asked me what school I went to-- I told her I wasn't in school, I just worked. She thought that perhaps I was in college. I told her how old I was, and then she told me she was almost 40--she looked much younger. She has a daughter who is 21. I am realizing that most of the women who work here who are over 20 have kids. I know that's a big generalization, but it's another way in which I stick out. I'm not asked much about it, though.

There were also a lot of very young kids in the store--many of them having mini-breakdowns. One little girl was crying because she couldn't decide what candy to pick out.

People were buying a lot of six-packs of Pepsi (bottles), laundry detergent, strawberries, bread, and Stouffer's frozen entrees--all on sale. I had several multiple cart orders, and was getting tired by the end of my shift. LL is a real stickler for baggers doing the cart switch--to have an empty cart at the beginning of the order in which you bag, and then switch it for the customer's cart when they leave. Most customers don't seem to get what we're doing, and seem to think we just happen to have an extra cart, so I'm often asked by customers entering the store if they can have it, or else if with the big orders to load up both carts.

I saw AL briefly on the register. he told me he's turned in his thesis. I told him he must feel good about it. He said he does still have to make some small revisions, and then our conversation was cut short.

I've started collecting shopping lists that people leave in their carts.

 
4/09/05

4:15 PM - 12:00 AM Regular Cashier

It was slow for the first few hours I was working, and I was a bagger for a while, but would occasionally work the register. TT and HH were the front end supervisors. During my lunch, I was sitting in the breakroom and BA asked TT how long he worked here. TT said 3 or 4 years. BA asked if he made 8 (dollars and hour) and TT said yes, that's what the part time front end supervisors make. He said that HH and DD make $12 or $13 and hour (both are full time), and that BB makes good money--around $26 ,000 or $28,000 a year. BA asked how he got the job. TT said he was really hating it at the store, and wanted to leave--he said he didn't want to work somewhere he didn't like. When he told them, they asked him if he'd like to be a front end supervisor. He then said that he thought of supervisors as people who sit around, but here you're always moving and busy.

The night became more interesting later on. FF was working, and for a while was bagging next to me. She was talking a lot with the cashier. Later, after she punched out, she went through my line, and was chatting with two young women who were also in line, buying magazines. She was talking about needing her smut fix (magazines), and how she would joke about this with a friend of hers who was a devout Christian.

Strangely, I got really busy after 10:00. Earlier in the day, I had several groups of young people (late teens-early twenties) who were buying barbeque stiff--charcoal, hamburgers, buns, etc. I thought that maybe people were enjoying the sunshine all day, and then realized they had to go shopping later, because I was having people go through with full carts. There are several 10 for $10 sales, and even though you don't have to buy ten items to get them for $1 each, the 10 for 10 seemed to suggest to people to buy ten of each thing. This seemed to include White Rain shampoo, Lipton side dishes (rice and pasta), and Price Chopper fruit roll-ups.

My customers tonight were really respectful and sympathetic towards me. Two women joked that I'd be ready to go home after helping them (they had about two carts worth of stuff). I had a customer who had new twenty dollar bills, and I commented that they were sticky, as it took her a moment to separate them. She made a smilar joke (as on Thursday) that they were fresh--just from her basement. Another woman was helping to bag her stuff and said she could never do this. She said she also couldn't deal with the people, that people treat cashiers badly and as if they are stupid, when really they are very smart. She said you don't know, some may be in college or have it as a second job. She said she worked in food service. I told her I agreed, and that I had another job, as did most of the people who worked here. I had another customer who needed some time for me to show her the sales, and have her count out change. I apologized to the next woman in line for the wait, and she said I was very patient with the other woman. Around 20 to twelve, I had a really big line, and HH told me to turn off my light now or else I'd never get out of here. The man behind the person I was ringing up at the time asked if I could ring him up as well, since I was closing. I told him no problem, I would take care of everyone in line right now. I then told a young man that he was the last person I would help , and he told anyone who tried to join the line that I was closing. The woman in front of him helped with this. I did manage to get through the line and punch out on time, but asked HH if she wanted me to stay longer to help with the lines--there was only one other register open, and HH was also running one, and there were long lines in both. She told me to just go.

I had a woman go through the line buying just a few things, including an ice cream birthday cake. She had a young daughter in her cart (about 3), and said that it was her birthday today and she forgot about it, since it's her other daughter's birthday on the April 2nd, and they had the party last week. I told her that her daughter was too young to care about it, and she agreed, but her husband was upset. It was about 11:20, and I realized there were several people going through the line with really young children. HH had to come over to help with something, and knew the woman with the birthday girl-- this woman had her daughters 11 months apart. HH then told me her daughters had a birthday 5 days apart, and I asked how close together they were. She has three kids: 19, 17, 15. I said that seemed more sane than 11 months. HH asked me again how old I was. She said I must have good genes, that I look a lot younger.

I also had one of my students come through the line with her friends. I told her that I was excited to she her, that I don't see many students. I man in a black coat wearing a yarmulke walked by, and he said to me that he had gone through my line a few days ago, and that I had done something smart--he couldn't remember what it was, and I didn't remember him. After I punched out and was walking out, he and another man in a yarmulke were putting up a display-- a fake Jewish bakery or something. I guess tomorrow I'll see what it is.

 

 
4/07/05

9:15 AM - 4:30 PM Express Cashier

I feel like I talked a lot with customers today. I was in a good mood, and it was relatively slow in the store today, so perhaps I just noticed more and engaged more than I have been in the last few weeks.

My drawer had all new one dollar bills in it, which stuck together constantly. Early in the day, a man asked if I had just made them. Then, he said " I'm an artist, I draw my own salary." I told them there was an artist who drew dollar bills and asked people to decide how much they were worth. Probably killed his joke a little.

A woman had put together a box of donuts and muffins, but then changed her mind and said she didn't want them. She said she had come too far to go back--that she would just eat them all. She said she's been eating lots of fruit and vegetables and drinking water, and that she used to be 280 pounds. I asked her if she felt a lot better, and she said yes.

Two other women in my line were having a discussion about the difference between vegan and vegetarian. The one's daughter had just become vegan, while her boyfriend was a vegetarian. She then described cooking Thanksgiving dinner with them.The other woman said it sounded like too much work to be a vegan.

I spoke with an elderly woman about spring. She said her daffodils were just starting to peek through, and that she thought she liked this even more than when everything is in full bloom.

Another woman handed me her Price Chopper card--it was one of the older ones and fairly beat up. She said she didn't want to get a new one because this was a lucky card. When this store first opened they had a contest for new customers--they chose a house at random and for every item in the house purchased at Price Chopper, the family would get a certain amount of money. She won over $3,000.

I had a woman pull up with a really full cart-- I told her this was the express line--only 15 items. She said there's no one in line. I couldn't really disagree with it, but did say that it wasn't really set up for bagging so much. She said she'd help with bagging, so I just went ahead and rang her through.

I also had a priest go through my line-- he was wearing a greek fisherman's cap and a black jacket--I couldn't help thinking he looked sort of like a motorcycle guy.

I sold a lot of birthday cakes. One mother and her sons were buying one and she said her son is 13 today. I joked about him now being a teenager. I wished him a happy birthday when he left, and his mother told him to thank me. I saw a lot of employees come in in their street clothes -- picking up paychecks.

Throughout the day, I was rotated back and forth between the express register (number 10, where no one could see me-- I had to keep saying loud that I could help someone over here) and bagging. One bagger asked me if I could lift a case of water for her--she had hurt her back. She also had a black eye. I sort of wanted to ask her what had happened, but didn't. Most of us who were there this morning seemed to have all day shifts, and were there until late afternoon. The store did get busier later in the day. Apparently, there was a shortage of men working, and there weren't enough to do both carts and bottles. Someone who was supposed to work had come in with a note from a doctor saying that he couldn't lift heavy things and had to be able to sit.

While I was bagging, I overheard AV and AZ talk about babies. Apparently AV just had a baby (she seems very young--late teens-early twenties)-- he's 8 weeks old. I have to admit I was sort of surprised, even though I shouldn't be.

During lunch, I decided to get a slice of pizza and sit in the "cafe" area. I got up to late to make my normal peanut butter sandwich. It was sort of interesting -- I couldn't help thinking this area was trying to be like Wegmans, but it was much smaller. Two people at another table were having some sort of business meeting. I think they worked at the bank that's in the store.

 

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