Grocery retail is a different animal from general retail. There are a lot of little things to learn and to remember and for the most part, you really don’t get a lot of time to get these things under your belt. So on day two I began to get stressed for a couple of reasons.
The kid from yesterday’s post was with me again. We were making aisle four look pretty and just like yesterday, he was walking back and forth, not actually doing anything. Just making it look like he was doing something by occasionally stopping and pulling something forward.
No one was actually watching us and there was no one guiding the action like yesterday so here’s this big aisle and it’s only one of about ten that we have to do. I’m trying to pull everything forward as I was told and he’s not doing anything remotely productive. I don’t have any kind of authority and I can’t suggest that he do something because I’m not in that position. We’ve both started at the same time and he still believed in Santa clause when I had my first job, so he doesn’t have a concept of finding something to do or taking initiative.
For the record, I am not saying that all kids can’t work. At one retail environment, I knew a kid who was sixteen and he had more of his shit together than all of the adults combined. I feel terrible that I don’t remember his name because I want to see how he’s doing now, but that’s beside the point. This was not one of those hardworking and eager to please kids.
The grocery manager came by the aisle and I was near the end of my side. I asked him if everything was looking good and he replied, in a disapproving tone:
“I don’t know, I’m looking at [a section] and there needs to be two rows towards the front.”
The section he was looking at was the section I saw the kid working on while I was at the other end. But of course he wasn’t working when the grocery manager wasn’t there and what the hell was I going to say? What words would make it seem as though I wasn’t just trying to suck up by throwing someone under the bus? I was trapped.
So there I was, doing the work of two employees, again, with one kid dicking around. Just like two fucking years of Generimart. But I held it together and I went to the HR manager and told her that I did not feel like I was picking things up as quickly as they wanted me to.
She explained to me that this was not the normal way of things. There was still training we had to do but because of this strike going on at another supermarket nearby, it was incredibly busy at our store, so we were being baptized in fire in a sense because they needed people to be on the floor and make the shelves look pretty.
She let me do the computer training and after that, I asked her how long it would be before I got trained on the register. That I understood she needed blockers and that I was willing to tough it out as long as I could get a time frame for when I would be moved to the front end, where I’m actually comfortable.
“We can get you started on that. I’ll talk to someone tomorrow and see if we can get you right in there.”
So that you don’t think I’m cleansing the past, let me up front. I was experiencing one tenth of a meltdown. When I say I held it together, I meant I didn’t fly off at the handle and bolt from the store. I was dizzy, hyperventilating, and ready to collapse right then and there from the stress.
You could easily say, “Just focus on what you’re doing, not The Kid.” Which would be fine accept that he was working in the same aisle as I was and the grocery manager didn’t care which of us did what, as long as it got done. It’s like when you have a project at school and no matter how much effort you put in, you and your partner both get the same grade.
All of these things overwhelmed me, because I was essentially alone with a monumental task. It would have one thing if I truly was alone and then I would be responsible for what I did. But if I wind up having to be responsible for what The Kid should have done and he’s getting the same amount of credit as I’m getting criticism then I cannot function under those circumstances. Add that to the fact that there is so much else to consider. There are sections of the store I don’t touch because an outside company handles it, there are parts where I need to wear gloves and then there’s customers I have to help and these things just add up.
But what was different about yesterday is that for the first time in my life, I was able to sum up my limitations. I explained to the HR that I am better in a situation where I have a few big things to learn and time to learn all of the intricate details of those things. When I say I’m a jack of all trades it’s true. Because everywhere I work, I’m able to master the smaller aspects of the position and from there I have a platform to build my confidence.
Seeing how stressed I was, after the computer training was complete, she gave me the option to go home and told me not to worry about it. I will go in today fresh and recharged and hopefully, the ball is rolling on the Front End training.