Monthly Archives: May 2014

Am I Stealing Fitness?

Gyms are expensive. Please don’t flood my comments section with your gym and the rates you pay. The point is that with my budget it wouldn’t be worth the time and effort to vet every single venue with a weight room and a slogan. So I have been making an effort to incorporate more exercise into my day to day life, as opposed to just picking one hour of the day to do some hardcore work out.

There has been a positive result. On weighing myself recently, I discovered that I have been losing a significant amount of weight just by changing my diet and exercising.

One of the exercises I do is to go into the health and fitness section of Generimart on my breaks and before I’m scheduled to punch in and do a few reps. The endorphin rush is great afterwards and I’m always full of more energy as a result of the extra activity. But the last time I stepped on the scale got me to thinking: Am I technically stealing?

Kids play with toys in the store all the time. The interactive items have batteries in them and you can push the “demo” button. You can also play with the bouncy balls and sometimes kids push around the toy shopping carts without a single dime being exchanged. But is there any quantifiable difference in the child’s life that would turn such an activity into a service that needs to be paid for?

I lift the weights at work. I don’t buy the weights, but there is a verifiable difference in my health right there on my bathroom scale.

My Heart Was the only Race that Concerned Me

Dear Sir,

It is unlikely you will read this. But if you do, please take this as a simple critique over your behavior last night. The reason you made me nervous and uncomfortable is not because you were black, although you seemed convinced that was the case as you shouted after me how “sick” I was making you as you proceeded to follow me after I shunned your attentions.

The fact of the matter is, I do not have eyes in the back of my head. But when someone is walking so close to me that they could give me a backrub, on an empty street at one in the morning, it does tend to make a person just a teensy bit nervous. When you do so without announcing your presence or intentions, it can also make a person nervous. Since I could not see you, the Race Card does not apply in this case. Having seen the color of your skin, it did not in anyway change how uncomfortable I was when you began hurling accusations at me, as I did not know if you were high or drunk and whether or not any response on my part was going to trigger a violent episode.

In the future, when it seems like you are making someone uncomfortable, apologize, move on and shut the fuck up. Do not proceed to follow them when you have made them so uncomfortable that they turn around and try to find a different route home. Because if that person, namely me, manages to locate a police cruiser, you are going to look all the more suspicious for acting like a fucking moron at one in the morning.

Sincerely,

Your Fellow Citizen

So Sorry for the Inconvenience

Generimart has an online survey that allows customers to tell us about their experience. In the past year, corporate has really put the pressure on us to try to get people to take this survey by either having them do it in the store or simply emphasizing the minute chance of winning a gift card of an untold amount.

Every two weeks or so the comments left by customers on the survey are posted in the employees only area for all of us to read. Some of the responses are encouraging and filled with praise. Others are legitimate complaints like dealing with rude cashiers, or not being able to find something that should be reasonably easy. Still more are ridiculous and sometimes entertaining, leading me to believe that this person has never complained about anything before and was simply giving it a try at the urging of a therapist or a loved one. This particular example was from this most recent compilation and it shows just how  people can be.

If you’re new to the blog and you don’t know why I’m being so vague about certain details, it’s for the sake of obfuscation. If I let something slip, or you somehow guess where I work, please keep it to yourself. Keeping that in mind, this example is not verbatim because I don’t feel like explaining myself to corporate watch dogs, who make it their business to know what employees are saying about the company online.

“I was looking for Coppertone SPF 15. You were out so, I had to buy the 30 instead.”

This doesn’t sound like a big complaint, until you see that the customer ticked the “missing product” option on their survey, indicating that they were not satisfied that they couldn’t find their SPF 15. So… you’re complaining because your chances of developing melanoma are slightly lower now?

Maybe this person was working on a tan, or maybe 15 was all they could afford. If any of that is true, there are cheaper brands available in the same section as the Coppertone. Like I said, this is just a small sample but if I posted some of the others, eventually you would believe I was making this stuff up.

Lost In Translation

There’s a relatively new cashier who transferred to our store from another Generimart location, where she worked for an undisclosed number of years. It’s too soon in the game to really make an opinion, although I will be the first to admit that I’m not easiest person to get along with. However, when there is a new employee it is never my intention to make someone feel uncomfortable and so I will try to be patient if not always pleasant.

A couple of nights ago, the front end supervisor called in sick and there was no one to replace her on such short notice. So because of her experience, they asked this new cashier to watch the front end for the evening. Her name is going to be Patty, after a character in one of my favorite Anne Rice novels, Blackwood Farm.

It was late in the evening and it had been busy nonstop. As the acting front end supervisor, it’s Patty’s responsibility to coordinate the cashiers breaks as well as keeping everything in order. Of course if something comes up she has the option to call someone from the sales floor to either jump on register, or help out in some other capacity. Towards the end of the evening, I got this call over the walky, while I was in the parking lot.

Patty: Cart Jockey please, cart jockey.

Me: *Replying* Go for Cart Jockey.

Patty:  There’s a huge mess over by the cafeteria that we need to clean up, can you come in to take care of that please?

This was a half hour before the closing and there were still customers coming into the store. Two years have taught me that the varying levels of management in our store can have a warped sense of priorities. But because Patty was relatively new and this was her first time running the front end, I simply replied,

Me: I still have a full parking lot to take care of. We do have an overnight crew that cleans up the store, so is the mess really important at the moment?

Patty: No, it really isn’t, that’s okay. Someone just spilled kitty litter.

I said no problem and went back to loading carts onto the pusher, then paused. Kitty litter?

With the pusher half full of carts, I turned it around and went back into the store. Then I found Patty, who was talking with the manager for the overnight shift and asked,

“Okay, when you said ‘kitty litter’, did you mean there’s a little bit of litter on the carpet, or someone spilled a whole bag?”

Patty answered, “Someone spilled a whole bag.”

“Okay,” I said, understanding finally. “See, when you said mess, I thought maybe the carpet looked a little nasty and you just wanted me to sweep or vacuum. If you had said there was a spill, I would have treated that with a lot more urgency cause it’s a whole other matter.”

“Oh, okay.”

“So if you need me to clean that up, that’s fine, but it’s going to take time away from my getting the parking lot in order.”

We went to check it out, but the night manager told me I could go back into the parking lot and that he would pull someone from the floor to take care of it if it was that big of a deal. This was just a simple lesson in context and hopefully Patty recognized that I wasn’t trying to be some jerk who only wanted to get out of doing what he was told. There is a sense of prioritizing when it comes to my job and I don’t just hang out and text between bringing in rows of carts. It’s hard enough to get that fact across to people who have been in the business for years, so I hope Patty learns from this experience.

Why I Will Never Learn To Drive

Employers want people who are going to show up for their shift, that’s a given. There are also jobs that absolutely require a clean driving record and a car as a function of the actual job. Unless you work for the distribution center, Taco Bell should not be one of those jobs.

This is something that shows in up in a lot of mainstream job ads. If it’s not in the ad itself, then it definitely comes up during the interview. “How are you planning to get here if you don’t have a car?” “What if it snows/rains/floods/water turns to blood? How do you know you’ll get here on time?”

These would be reasonable questions if you were applying for a job at a location in the next town, or it a truck stop location. I even recognize that there are places where it is literally impossible to get anywhere without a car, such as small rural towns that have just enough people living there to not qualify as the setting for a horror movie. But this Taco Bell in question is located on Highland Avenue in Salem, which is a short uphill walk from the town itself. Yes it’s very busy, as it’s located in a busy retail park just a few miles from the border to Lynn. There is also the problem of what happens when we get heavy snowfall; namely, that the snow gets piled onto the sidewalk turning the narrow stretch of road that people might alternatively walk along into a death trap.

We didn’t even have car in our household until late in my high school years. Do you know what clever trick I did to be able to get to work on time during nasty weather conditions? I left the house earlier. David Blaine’s agents can feel free to call me anytime. And I’ve navigated some the nastiest streets in the worst weather imaginable because I lived in Vermont. A state where pedestrians are the subject of bedtime stories that parents tell their kids to scare them into falling asleep earlier.

Also, I’ve never taken a job that I couldn’t get to in a reasonable amount of time. This was a lesson I learned way back when I tried to apply for a job at a bookstore a few towns from where I lived at the time. They didn’t want to hire me because, although the interview was fantastic, the bus system was my only mode of transportation and they knew how unreliable that was. Again, this is an understandable reason not to hire someone, because there was a clear reason outside of my not being able to drive that would have prevented me from getting to work on time.

The main motivation behind “Must have car or else” is the false assumption that people with a car and a drivers’ license are a hundred times more reliable than people without one. Right, because you’ve never heard someone make the excuse, “traffic was bad”, or, “the conditions were so bad on the road today that I almost ran over the poor guy who was walking to work.” I have known plenty of people who owned cars and were able to drive, who have a history of not showing up to work on time. I on the other hand, have never been late to work as a result of having to walk. Maybe that will be the case someday, but it hasn’t been in the last twelve years.

That’s not to say that I wouldn’t drive if I were able to. The very first time I tried to take my permit test, I failed and I have not gone back since. Someone recently told me that “It’s all on computers now”, which has precisely jack shit to do with whether or not I will pass the test. I am capable of learning something if someone else is guiding the education. But whenever I try to teach myself something inevitably I will fuck it up, because I am not sure what is the important thing to focus on and what will they actually expect you to know. And the things I can teach myself usually have very simple instructions that can be explained easily.

Hell, if I could teach myself anything without any kind of outside assistance, the title of this blog would definitely not be Confessions of a Cart Jockey. My life would be a hell of a lot less complicated and I would be making a living doing something I loved as opposed to something I need to survive financially.

After the testing, there’s my biggest fear: the idea that I could hurt someone. You can’t deny it doesn’t happen. The wrong person driving can become deadly and the idea that idea that one wrong move on my part could cause someone to get hurt, is crippling. This a fear I cannot overcome.

Everyone has a fear they can’t overcome. Some are simple others aren’t. You can call it an excuse if you want to. You can also keep it to yourself, or fuck off. Not being able to drive does create problems and probably will go on to create more of them, especially if my career in comedy ever takes off in any kind of positive direction. This a challenge I am ready to try to work around. But that does not mean that learning to drive will immediately solve all of my problems either.

An Invisible Kick Me Sign

Apparently I signed up for a morning shift sometime in the past week and forgot about it. So when I showed up for work yesterday, I was surprised to find No Call, No Show next to my name. Not a big deal, it happens and I don’t have a record for not showing up for shifts without calling. The front end manger was clear that this was not that big a deal.

However the two front end supervisors just below her have the tenancy to rub salt into my wounds either way. So I’m dreading Monday and not just because it’s a major holiday where the store will be packed with last minute barbecue shoppers. Today is going to be another recharge day, complete with putting groceries away (the canned ones, obviously) and maybe going for a walk into Beverly for the exercise.

Yesterday was even more difficult when I saw that the opening cart jockey left a huge mess for me to clean up, taking up an hour of time I could have been spending getting carts into the building. You could easily give him a pass because it was busy, except that I was in the store a few hours before my evening shift began so I could do some grocery shopping. The corrals on either side of the store were never empty in that three or four hour space of time that I was there and so it wasn’t a stretch to believe that he could have found time to empty the hanger bins and take care of the trash.

This particular cart jockey annoys me most because he’s the kind of person who knows he’s getting away with screwing off on the clock. Texting on company time, for example, because no one in the store ever pays attention to what’s going on in the parking lot. So this kid can take his sweet time doing whatever the hell he feels like because they just assume he’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing.

It wouldn’t annoy me so much, except that he began as a seasonal employee almost a year ago. When he started on, he was full of enthusiasm and he worked really hard, so I pushed for him to get hired permanently. This is how he thanks me.

What About Second Breakfast? Alternate Title: Taco Bell, stick to what you’re good at, please.

There’s no doubt that cutting McDonalds and Burger King out of my diet forever has made a massive improvement on my health. I still eat out, occasionally. Preferably at diners or places where I can either see the food being made fresh or can at least confidently determine that the owners(s) is not trading sexual favors with the health inspector.

I’ve actually worked at Taco Bell before. I know their policies and it’s still not the healthiest place to eat, but it is healthier than McDonalds if for no other reason than they throw some vegetables in their food. Whatever, this was the only time in all of 2014 that I have eaten fast food and Taco Bell has a breakfast menu now. And I already walked up hill to do some early morning grocery shopping and I now have some moderately heavy grocery bags full of canned soups that I would soon be walking home with. If you didn’t get the deceptively subtle meaning of this post’s alternative title, let me provide you a link to a fairly accurate but not safe for work depiction of any of the customers who would choose Taco Bell for their breakfast options.

Who Also Loves Taco Bell’s New Breakfast?

Lets start with the idea of Taco Bell being open before 11 AM. I’m open to new experiences but there was a creepiness to being in the dining area so early in the day. The staff still seemed thrown by the concept as well, because no one was at or near the register until I had been staring at the menu for a few minutes. One or two people were running the drive-thru window, but other than that, it was pretty much dead in the entire place.

I went with the waffle taco. With bacon. Yes, I know, back off I’m not a saint. But my biggest mistake was definitely ordering the coffee. Say what you will about Burger King or McDonalds, but on either side of the Taco Bell location where I was currently ordering said coffee, were a number of flavor options for a dollar a cup at any size. For a 1.49 plus tax I could enjoy “regular” coffee at Taco Bell.

So I ordered the coffee with a teensy bit of sugar and a little bit of cream. The guy asked me how much cream I would like, wording it, “How many pumps?”

“Do you have the little pods so I could just add it myself?”

“No, man, we have it like this.” He proceeded to go into the tiny coffee area and produce a large bottle of Coffee Creamer with the pump. This actually led me to wondering where the confusion was coming from, because I had said a little bit of cream. The pump handle was pretty long and though I can’t be certain, I would guess that a fair amount more than a “little” would come from one full pump.

It also puzzled me how they would not think to include creamer pods in the same area where they have the sauces and other fast food accessories displayed in the dinning area. My first sip really made me wish I had just gone to McDonalds for their coffee. How bad do you have to screw up coffee to make McDonalds taste better?

The waffle taco isn’t winning any awards with me either. No more to say about it than that really, except that my only saving grace is that I have been engaged in some physical activity this week, so at least the damage was not permanent.