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6/26/05

10:30 AM - 4:00 PM Express Cashier

Of course I was glad to not be on EZ Scan. I got my schedule for next week and it's all EZ Scan. I think I need to tell someone else that I want to be on a register at least once a week to maintain some sanity, since PP was the one I talked to and now she's gone.

I was tired today, and so it was a bit blurry. In the morning a lot of people were buying the paper, donuts, bagels, etc. Then, people started coming through buying beer, frozen things like popsicles and ice cream, and lots of meat--a lot of steaks and hamburgers, but also corn, nectarines, peaches, and cherries. The cherries had a sign advertising $2.98 a pound, but some people thought that meant $2.98 a bag, but each bag was about 2 pounds. The first person to bring this up was a woman who didn't understand why her total was so high, so I went through her items and pointed out the more expensive things. She complained about not understanding the sign and I voided the cherries for her. Several people just bought meat, but like $80 worth of meat. Two women came through buying around 15 packages of Italian sausage and ice, and then explained that the one was from Massachusetts and really liked this sausage, but couldn't get it there, so she was stocking up.

Several people bought cakes as well. One man was buying a hamburger cake (it looked like a hamburger, not made of hamburger) for his son. He then told me that he had a five year old son and a 19 year old, had two different wives, but is single now. He seemed to start telling me his life story in a way that also seemed like a pick up line, so I didn't engage too much with him. Earlier in the day, two older Italian men (still with accents ) came through and asked me if I only worked weekends, because they had never seen me before. The then told me I seemed smart and easy on the eyes too. It was such a weird, old fashioned line I had to stop the urge to roll my eyes. Another man came through, buying four cases of beer and ice, who told me about his bad sunburn he got yesterday on his boat. Probably the funniest customers who came through were a couple--the man started talking about AL Price Chopper--that he was Price Chopper to them. I told them that he was leaving soon, and they couldn't believe it, but then listened in to where AL was working ( two registers down) and heard him tell someone that he was leaving on July 6. I told them they would probably miss him. They were totally making fun of AL, which I didn't want to do, but I also found the phrase AL Price Chopper funny and couldn't help smiling at it. A friend of mine had mentioned AL to me a while ago as a cashier she remembers and has seen for a long time in the store.

Most of my day seemed to be about little things, hoisting groceries over the counter into carts, helping a guy find moth balls, making sure I had enough change in my drawer. Right after I got more $1 bills, several people paid in all one dollar bills, then in all quarters. A lot of orders were small--less than $10, which seemed unusual. The people who came through my line were all different ages, races, and backgrounds, and that is one of the things I like about it.

 
6/25/05

6:00 PM -12:00 AM EZ Scan

Tonight felt packed with tiny, interesting interactions. It was really busy most of the time in EZ Scan land--time went by much faster than usual. I printed out reports, and 243 people went through while I was working (680 total for the day), buying around $4,200 of stuff (out of $14,550 for the day). Towards the end of the night YY told me that the store was a mess--that the dairy and frozen food cases were torn apart, and people had opened up packages of meat, because, YY said, people weren't happy and looking for things.

Regulars: I've been working this shift for a few weeks now (or longer) and now recognize certain customers. I didn't see Watchtower man or 1970s man, but I did see crazy wig lady, "Frank," the DVD pirate, Thin man, and the mother-daughter duo. Crazy wig lady wasn't as crazy as she was the first time I dealt with her, but she still needed attention. She needed someone to get her a new can of beans, because the one she had picked up had a slight dent in it. She also commented that she didn't buy as much as she had intended, because she didn't have the time. I'm not sure what that comment was about, because she bought around $40 of stuff, but perhaps if you have a "six figure pension," you are supposed to buy more and she wanted to keep up with appearances. I finally told Frank I saw him on TV (he was featured in a "sting" operation where the reporter bought pirated DVDs from him). I asked him if anything happened because of it, and he said no, but I could now say I knew a criminal. I think Frank stole a newspaper--he didn't scan it and I doubt he came in with it, but I just let it go. The Thin Man had to use the bathroom both before and after he bought groceries. He then gave me a plastic baggy with coupons in it that will expire tonight, and asked me to give them to anyone who needed them. In return, I gave him a coupon for 75 cents in his next order, which the coupon machine (next to the receipt printer) spit out and someone left behind. The mother-daughter duo I first saw last week-- the mother seems older-- mid fifties or so, and the daughter seems around 12 or 13-- just in the beginning of puberty, tall, sort of slouchy, and in between being girlish and a tom boy. The mother left behind her shopping list, which listed four different stores: KMart, Wegman's, P&C, and Price Chopper, and under each certain things for sale were listed.

Earlier in the night, I spoke with a woman for a little while--she had just finished taking a 4 hour teacher certification test (she looked like a teacher, but was in her forties). We talked about the heat and I told her the thought of taking a test in this weather reminded me of high school and taking Regents' tests. She asked me if I was in college, and I told her I had already graduated and this was my second job, and that I was an artist.

Right before I took my break, I felt as if I was reliving a scenario from the training video on Customer Service (there is a scene about a cake in it). A woman was getting a graduation cake, but the photos on it were wrinkled, and one edge of the borders was wiped off. I asked her if she spoke with someone in the bakery, but she said they were distracted. At this point the bakery had closed, and the party needing the cake was going to start before it re-opened tomorrow morning. I got AV to handle it, but had to go on break, and as I punched out, AV was on the phone to someone explaining the situation, but I don't know what happened with it.

The EZ Scan debate: on the other EZ Scan, and older daughter (40s) and her mother were going through it, and the daughter needed a lot of help/attention--checking the price of everything--and complained that this was supposed to be faster. I talked to the mother a little and told her I didn't think the EZ Scan was faster. She thought that they should take the "2 girls" working over here and just put them on regular registers. I had several other customers ask me if that EZ Scan voice drove me crazy, another comment that it took away jobs, and another ask me about how boring it must be. I gave one woman the produce code for green peppers, and she said " Oh no, you know the numbers." She then commented about all the numbers she knew--credit card number, debit card number, social security number.

People from the outside: another neighbor of mine came through today-- her son and I recognized each other, but I'm not sure if she recognized me. An art person / colleague also came through and commented that he finally got to see me in action. But the best person was someone who I had seen working here for the past month or so, who came up to me at the end of his shift and asked me how the foundation was going. I asked him how he knew about it, and he was in a class that I had presented my work to. He has graduated and is now working at Price Chopper, but he hopes for not very long. I am sort of excited to have a co-worker who is in on my ruse.

Insignificant details: I haven't gone back through and read this blog very much, and I tend to think it must be very boring, but think that's okay because that is in part what work can be about. I don't know how well I have described those little stupid details about work that you find yourself thinking about. Tonight, I was noticing that the batch of bags were ever so slightly different in color and thickness, and then how it seems like each batch is like this-- different. Tonight's bags were a little warmer and creamier in color. Last week, they were brighter and greenish and thinner. I would guess/ hope that they have some recycled component to them, which in my mind would account for these differences. Other dumb details: the machine didn't give out the right change to someone, and I just gave them the difference ($5). I called CB over when she was in the area and asked her to check it-- there was a torn $5 bill in the front of the $5 bill compartment. I was worried that the $5 difference would mess up my drawer, but she said all the registers in one EZ Scan area are counted together. I can't imagine what CB's job is like keeping track of all of this. Later in the night, another machine stopped reading bills fed into it, so I put a sign up telling people to give the cash to me. I've also found I get into cleaning the EZ Scan consoles-- I think because I'm bored to tears and this gives me something to do when it's slow. But then I start seeing the limitations of only using paper towels and spray cleaner--there is all this gunk in the cracks and edges of things you can't really get to. And then I think that I am such a geek for even caring. I think that if this was my real job--the one I really depended on, I would have a much worse attitude about these things--that instead of disinterested, distanced observations, I would cause more trouble. I find this is weird because I am in a position to not care and be a bad worker. It is really time for me to be more subversive.

 
6/23/05

1:00 PM - 5:30 PM EZ Scan

When I went the breakroom to put my "personal items" in a locker, there was a big, important looking meeting of corporate Price Chopper-types. All I overheard one the speaker saying "giving away product isn't enough. We have to have customer service. Are you all in agreement with this pledge? If so, just nod your heads, and that's enough for me... I will have all the cashiers sign the pledge..."

I was, of course, on the self service registers again. One of my early customers paid for her $17 order with one dollars bills--one at a time fed into the bill acceptor, with a five dollar bill fed in the the middle. I felt like that was the pace in the store today--slow slow slow. Three different front end supervisors told me to pull customers out of the express line and bring them to the EZ Scan, which I did a few times, but I'm a bad salesperson, and would always give someone an out when I asked them if they wanted to use the EZ Scan. I didn't want to really advocate for it, because I hate working it and don't want their use to spread. In fact, almost all the other employees I've talked to about working in the EZ Scan don't like it, mainly because it's boring. At least one person did like it though.

I wonder if there is some new management person or was some management group that is working on new policies, or better enforcement of policies-- last week the supervisors were bringing people over to the EZ Scan, and also the clipboards appeared which outlined different aspects of store maintenance to check. Today i also noticed new signs by every register which said: Always Remember: BOB (bottom of basket) & LISA (look in side always). The store today looked very clean and straight, I am guessing because of the people in the meeting upstairs. I watched the store managers wander around the store during my first hour of work. He bought a power bar thing and stood in the floral department just watching the store from there while he ate it, and I was the person closest in his range of view, so I found myself being very self-conscious.

I mainly noticed a lot of kids, and a lot of men using the bathroom. A very cute little boy, around 3 or 4, crawled up on the shelf by the EZ Scan and was helping his mother scan things. He then said to me " Ma'am, where is the scanner block," --the bar code-- on the ice cream he was holding. It was funny to have a little kid call me ma'am, but I realized he was in part mimicking his mother. Another kid asked me my name and then asked me to watch him make a three-point shot, while he through one of the beach balls in the display near me up to the top of it. He was running around and dribbling balls for a while, and when his grandmother was done scanning, etc., he didn't want to leave and ducked into the men;s bathroom. She at first opened the door and shouted for him to get out here, and then walked in a grabbed him, at which he said " You can't go in here!" Another little boy I overheard say to his mother " I hate you," and then a beat later discovered the kick balls and said "Look, I found a Sponge-Bob Square pants ball."

I also felt like many more men were using the bathroom than women, in my completely unscientific observation. One man, who I recognized from last week because then I had noticed he was talking to himself, was in the bathroom for close to a half hour.

After I punched out, I waited in line to get my paycheck. I was looking at it, and realized that I had gotten a raise. I looked through my other checks and saw that after my three month anniversary, I started making $6.20 and hour rather than $6.00.

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