Food safety should always be a primary concern, whether you’re cooking for friends and family or you are in anyway responsible for the health and safety of customers. Businesses get shut down for even the tiniest infractions and while Generimart employees like to believe they are immune, they’re also accountable to the board of health if someone gets sick, especially if they have an in-store cafeteria like my location.
Eggs and poultry are at the epicenter of food borne illnesses. For this reason, if I find even one cracked egg in the carton the customer has brought to my line, I immediately ask my supervisor or the nearest employee who is not currently busy, to get another carton. Store policy states that I’m not allowed to leave my register, so unfortunately this can take some time. But for the most part, every customer I have ever had has appreciated my diligence in this manner. It seems that I am also an anomaly, because whenever I buy eggs at this same store, no other cashier except for one or two others check to make sure they are all in tact.
Here’s the mentality. The customer already checked, so why should I? In the first place, this is part of the customer service experience, making sure the customer is happy within the scope of your abilities. A customer might not have time to closely inspect the eggs for the tiniest cracks and even they did check thoroughly, maybe they handled them a little roughly in the course of their shopping trip. I’ve had customers retrieve eggs from the bottom of the cart where it was clear that the groceries on top of them were not exactly placed with a brick layer’s careful hand. If those eggs hadn’t been broken, I’d have run right out of the store and grabbed the next bus to MIT because that would be the day I either get a Noble Peace Prize for improving food distribution, or blow the cover off of a major genetic modification conspiracy.
So, this informs the story of why I reported two supervisors to the company’s integrity hotline.
The other day, I was on a register and I had a woman with her kids in my line. She had a larger order and though she was frustrated with her kids, she was at the very least civil. Of course in the middle of the order, I find one of the eggs in her carton has been damaged. Again, it’s the tiniest of cracks, but you don’t know what could have gotten in there, so it’s best to play it safe.
The lady of the hour, the assistant front end supervisor, will be called Hen, as she is as stubborn and difficult to get along with as the birds that produced the breakfast item in question. I made the request and she went to get another carton, leaving behind the carton with the broken egg. I apologized to the customer for the delay as I continued to ring her groceries out.
“Don’t apologize, I appreciate you looking after my family,” she said, sincerely.
Hen returned with another carton of eggs. I checked this one as well and not only was there one cracked egg, but there were two. And the second of these eggs could not be more broken if there was a partially developed embryo climbing out of it and gasping for air.
So I politely asked Hen to get another carton and she flipped.
“Well Cock said to just mix and match.” Cock is the other supervisor in this tale. “Here, just take the broken eggs out of this one and put them in that one!”
“No, I’m not going to do that,” I said. “That’s against company policy for one and it’s a health and safety risk.”
“Well just do it. Cock said so!”
I stood my ground and Hen stormed off to get another carton. The customer was shocked by her behavior and demanded to see a manager. So I know she spoke to the manager on duty, and she again thanked and praised me for my attention to detail and good customer service. But I wasn’t satisfied, because Generimart’s management has this delusion that they’re immune to things that would get another store fined.
Cock sent me on my half hour, but he started hovering over me in the break room and in the employee area, the way he does when he wants to give me a hard time over something. I simply went to the board where they keep all the important numbers and made a big show of putting the OSHA number into my cellphone, all the while declaring to the human resource employee that I might have to give them a call. Cock got the message and backed off, probably knowing that his name would come up if I did make the report. After all, he gave instructions that could have ended in that woman’s children being sick if I had followed them.
I knew I couldn’t write and the check and not cash it, however. So on my way home that afternoon, I called the employee hotline and made an anonymous report. I know for a fact these reports do get followed up on as I’ve made at least one such report a year and have actually witnessed the results in a very short amount of time. I also have the report number written down, in case I have to add anything more in regards to that particular incident.