5 Things I Learned Working In A Grocery Store

Raquel Martínez
Raquel Martínez

I’ve been working in a chain grocery store for about 3 years now. I thought when I was first hired that it wouldn’t be too bad. I don’t mind getting yelled at for things that aren’t my fault for minimum wage. Boy I didn’t know there was so much more to it. Here’s just a handful of the idiosyncrasies of working in retail I’ve learned:

1. Everybody needs to use the bathroom — NOW

If I had a nickel for every person that walked into the store holding their crotch and ass, made a b-line up to the nearest employee and demanded they tell them where the crapper was, I’d have a small loan of a million dollars. But seriously, like, do you guys now plan out your excrements? I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m kinda-sorta on a fairly accurate schedule depending on how much I eat/when I eat ratio. I’m actually more of a home-only deuce-dropper. Not to say that I’ll never do it in a public restroom, but let’s be honest: If I can hold it, I’ma hold it. And how about how disgusting customers leave our bathrooms. I can basically count on some customer taking a shit anywhere in the bathroom but toilet at least 2 times a month. My first week on the job included pressure-sanitizing a toilet and floor because some chick decided to pull a hover and drop job — she missed. Believe it or not: the women’s bathrooms is always more disgusting than the men’s. The men’s room is always just covered in piss and smells like shit; but the women’s room has tissues, toilet paper, paper seat covers and a bunch of trash all over the floor, hanging off the toilet, and on top of the aforementioned occasional deuce that just didn’t quite make it.

2. Nobody reads anything

I never realized how ignorant the average person is until I started working at a grocery store. I have customers ask the most asinine questions:

Customer – “Where’s the cereal at?”

Me – “Aisle 7” (I point)

Customer – (Looking around confused) “Where’s 7?”

Me – (Ready to bust a gallon of milk over their head) “Right after aisle 6 but before aisle 8”

Customer – (Still confused, starts walking towards aisle 3)

Me – (Rip my name tag off, walk up to the front desk and quit) — (just kidding, I’m poor).

It’s the same scenario when the customer doesn’t know how much something is when there’s a big sign behind them that reads: “FOUR FUCKING NINETY-NINE EACH”, and then I just die on the spot and they drag my cold lifeless body into the milk-cooler so I’ll be nice and chilled for my funeral. I realize not everybody is a big reader (we’re pretty sparse these days with the invention of the text-message). But these are not fucking novels. Like, can you try to figure it out on your own before you throw your arms in the air in frustration and say “JESUS LORD I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF”.

3. Customers are the most entitled/rudest people

I’m not even going to go on about working the register and asking how a customer is to no avail; I can move past that. I don’t want to stand here and look at your resting bitch-face just as much as you don’t want to wait in line. What really gets my blood boiling are the customers that think it’s okay to see me from halfway across the store and do either one of the three or all three at the same time: Snap/Wave at me to walk 10 aisles over to answer your stupid question; Whistle/Wave at me to walk 10 aisles over to answer your stupid question; Shout at me to walk 10 aisles over to answer your stupid question. Like, we can’t meet halfway? You can’t come within conversation distance to ask me? Also, I’m not your dog, so don’t whistle at me. You can call me either 2 of my names: Chris or “Sir”; I only refer to you as “Sir” or “Ma’am” (One of my coworkers had a customer complain to the manager because he referred to him as “Boss”). They actually think we just sit on our hands waiting for them to need us. I have at least one customer a week walk into the store without a basket, start shopping and then ask me to stop pulling the 8,000lb pallet of water bottles to go run outside the store to grab her a cart. Are you fucking kidding me? By the way — if you see me pulling one of those big-ass water bottle pallets with the regular hand jack (the one that’s all muscle, no electric power), don’t you dare waddle your fucking ass in front of me. Those things are so fucking heavy and impossible to stop on a dime. I’m basically letting the thing run into me so my body can absorb its momentum. You’re a shit and nobody likes you.

4. Every customer thinks we have a farm in the back warehouse with an endless stock of products

I can guarantee I’ll have at least 5 people an hour ask me if I have anything “fresher” in the back even if we just got the product from the delivery truck. Like once the produce touches the sales floor it’s no good. I’ll even tell them “I just put that out five minutes ago” — they don’t care. I had someone complain our potatoes were covered in dirt. Lady, you know the shit grows in the ground right? Like 95% of the produce grows either in or around the dirt. Each head of our iceberg lettuces come in the box pre-wrapped in plastic. Sometimes a lettuce will fall on the floor and I’ll pick it up and put it back on the shelf and some customer will see me and go “OH MY GOD THAT WAS JUST ON THE FLOOR” — It’s in plastic you fucking dunce! Sometimes our Avocados will come in green, so we won’t have any ripe ones available and some customer will get all huffy “THERE AIN’T ONE GODDAMN RIPE AVOCADO IN THE WHOLE BUNCH!” — probably in hopes that I’ll hear them and come to their rescue as I pull a nice dark ripe avocado out of my ass for them. Sometimes they’ll actually come ask me if I have any ripe avocados in the back. Listen, idiot-stick. Think about it: Why would I keep the ripe stuff in the back and let it go bad? Like I will actually get written up if I’m caught putting out new product before rotating our old stock. Trust me, if I had a ripe avocado I would throw it at your fucking throat right now.

5. Customers are too lazy to count

I’m trained to work the register though I rarely do because I work in one of the outer departments and I would probably rip the register out and beat a customer with it if I was a cashier regularly. I cannot believe the amount of people that will just throw all their money on the counter and have me count everything out for them. I think my favorite one is the time a lady pulled out a gallon-sized ziplock bag filled with coins and had me count out everything. I just turned my light off; I was counting for about 15 minutes. Also, please, god, stop thinking you’re doing everyone a favor by paying in exact change. I see a $20 in your hand, just give me it and we’ll move on with our lives. Because in the time you spend searching for the exact change, I could have rang you up and moved on to the next person. I’m actually timed at the register and if our time/customer ratio is too high, we get written up. So you’re just fucking me, slowly. Don’t give me extra change so you’ll get a whole dollar back. Just take your fucking change, and throw it in a piggy bank when you get home. It’s not the end of the world to have to carry change in your pocket.  TC mark

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