Cleanup on aisle three!


At the supermarket the greatest sins for anyone working the register were shortchanging a customer, breaking their eggs, or smushing their bread. Of the three, the one that really got customers angry was smooshing their bread. If a customer was shortchanged, they would go back to let the register. The cashier would apologize and give the customer their money back. If you pack a bag wrong and the bread gets smooshed there was no coming back unscathed.


Packing bags took the kind of hand eye coordination one would need to play Tetris. As the food comes down the conveyor belt, the bag boy, which was me, had to quickly calculate in his mind which items should go in first then how to build the bag from there. At Dave's Supermarket, we mostly used paper bags. I think paper bags are easier to pack because they already have a rectangular shape, which makes it easier to visualize what the final outcome must be. The goal was to always create a stable bag. If the sharp edges of boxes poked a hole that caused a tear we would get an earful from an angry customer. Still the number one rule was don’t smoosh the bread.


Some customers came to the shop with whatever troubles they carried with him. Once, two people accidentally bumped into each other in the aisles. The yelling began. Then came the flying cans and bottles as they started a war inside the supermarket. No one tried to stop them. I even think some may have bet on who would take out the other first and with what type of food they would use to do it. Eventually the security guard came and broke up the fight. I don't think the police arrested anyone and no one paid for the broken jars of pasta sauce on the floor.


There's an old English saying that goes never cry over spilt milk. I think the kid who was asked to clean up aisle 3 cried the entire time.




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