Cart Jockey = Superman, or Not

It rained yesterday. Not badly, but just enough that it reminded me I need to get new shoes soon. When that’s not an option, look for cheap socks that you can change throughout the day to give your feet some semblance of comfort. It’s temporary but it works.

Working in the rain isn’t as unpleasant as it sounds. Even when it’s pouring out there’s smug sense of satisfaction as I go out into the weather that everyone else complains about to retrieve shopping carts and help customers load their cars with groceries. Hell, I was the one outside during Hurricane Sandy because apparently shoppers have no concept of preparing for an emergency and the corporation decided that closing the store during a record breaking natural disaster was too costly.

Also, since moving to Salem it is nothing but sky all around when I’m working in the parking lot. I can accurately tell you where Boston, Beverly, Lynn and New Hampshire are from where I’m standing. And when it’s lightening out that is one hell of a light show and I get front row seats every time. One afternoon I was actually guiding the cart pusher towards the store when I saw a bolt of lightening actually strike the store. I could actually hear the impact because I was literally no more than four or five feet away from it. If you have never witnessed a lightening strike that close before, let me tell you, there are few experiences that are as humbling as witnessing Mother Nature’s bitch slap up close and personal.

Flowery prose out of the way, let’s get to the things that happened at work.

It was a short shift and I was scheduled as a mid. This works out because there are at least two cart jockeys on hand for enough of the day that neither one gets overwhelmed. We each take a side of the store and focus on bringing the carts into that side. Because I was on the Electronics side of the store I had the smallest corral to fill and I could therefore focus on doing the indoor tasks that so often get neglected when there’s only one of us working outside.

My coworkers all have varying ideas about my function in the store. In the beginning it was hard for me to work out who was in charge of what because of how many different “bosses” I answer to. But because of where I am on the totem pole, I was nervous at first about not taking direction from whoever happened to be talking at me because I didn’t want to be fired. In the two years I’ve been working at Generic-Mart (This will hence be how I refer to “Where I Work”) I have managed to develop thicker skin and a greater awareness of who actually has the power to tell me what to do and who only imagines they do. Unfortunately that doesn’t stop the cashier running the customer service desk from calling me to do whatever little task flies into their heads.

It is my job to help customers in any way I can. There have been numerous instances where I can actually say that I was more helpful to a customer than ninety percent of the staff in any job I have ever worked in, because I treat the customer the way I would want to be treated. I can also rightly admit when I have not been so helpful to a customer and before long such an incident will occur that I will quickly document. On this occasion, as many others, the customer service cashier equated Cart Jockey with Superman, assuming that I can do a certain task simply because she says I can do it. For this reason I am going to refer to this woman as Harmony, after the vapid Cheerleader turned Vampire of the Buffyverse.

A customer was returning the top part of a DIY dresser because the metal frame was dented at some point. She didn’t seem like the kind of person who would damage something and try to return it and since she was only getting the top replaced anyway, it was an awful lot of fuss for such a small reward. I helped the lady bring the glass top in and they found another one on the floor. This is where things get complicated.

Harmony asked me to open the really heavy box with the glass top inside and extract said glass top. I asked where the other Cart Jockey was to help me with this task. To which Harmony replied, “You’re just taking out the glass top.”

“Okay.” I said, slowly. “But this is very obviously going to be a two person task, so could you please call Peter up here.”

“Well, I don’t know where he is,” Harmony snapped back. “But I guess I’ll go call him on the walky.”

Yeah, see we have walky talkies and the reason I didn’t have one is because by the time I got there they had all been distributed to other employees. But the customer service desk always has one assigned to them, which you would think Harmony would have remembered when I asked her to call Peter in the first place. But remember, it was inconceivable to her that I could possibly need any help pulling a very heavy item out of a tightly packed box.

Well eventually Peter and I got the glass top out of the box with a lot of heavy lifting and pulling that would have taken far longer and possibly ended in any number of disasters had I been the only one to struggle with the monstrosity. The customer was satisfied that this top was not damaged in anyway and that the item she had purchased had been damaged by the manufacturer.

Another fun highlight happened during my break. I was preparing some sausages for lunch and while they were in the microwave, I went into the drawers to see if there was any ketchup. Among the packets of sugar and other condiments I found some pills in a plastic pouch. One of the other employees in the break room identified it as a vitamin pack, which was one of the many possibilities that came to my mind upon seeing an unlabeled package of obscure pills and tablets.

I’ll be honest, the temptation to see what they would do for me was strong. Almost as strong as when one of my coworkers left two donuts in plastic container on the counter, for anyone who wanted them. The consequences would have no doubt been very similar if I had given in and I thankfully resisted the urge. I’m not a pill popper, though I do take potassium supplements to help with my anxiety. Still, you have to wonder who thought this was a good idea to leave those in a drawer that anyone could have found. If I had just the urge to take them, what would happen to someone who actually went ahead and taken them?

The possibilities are aimless and the consequences would be just another bitter pill to swallow.

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One thought on “Cart Jockey = Superman, or Not

  1. Pingback: Coyote Ugly 2: The Dishwasher’s Destiny | Confessions of a Cart Jockey

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