Shortly after graduating high school I lost my lucrative job ($4.65/hr.) as a toll collector, and went to work as a stock boy in a grocery store, for minimum wage. Most of my co-workers were former classmates, or people with a similar “disposition.” Read: the kind of employees no sane person would ever hire.
I’ve told several lengthy stories about my time served at the store, but today I’m going to focus on ten quickies. These don’t require much of a set-up, and we can get in-and-out with just a single paragraph. How’s that sound?
So, let’s get started with this rehash… I mean quality entertainment.
- A fellow stocker, named David, liked to remove the lids of ketchup bottles, and stuff tampons down the necks. Then he’d replace the tops, and put the bottles back on the shelf. This was what he was known for. The amazing thing? I don’t remember any customers complaining about it. David did, however, get into an argument with an assistant manager one day, screamed “I quit!” and turned over a rack of cigarettes on his way out the door. We all thought that was pretty bad-ass, and he was suddenly known for something new.
- Vincent and I were bagging groceries one evening, while the store was in a state of pandemonium. I believe it was a few days before Thanksgiving, or Christmas. Vincent accidentally dropped a squeeze bottle of mustard, and it shot a yellow stripe halfway up the back of a woman wearing a fur coat. She didn’t realize it, and both of us just briskly walked to the back room with no expressions on our faces, then laughed for ten minutes.
- Rocky caused an uproar one afternoon, when he wrote, in Magic Marker, the word DEAD across missing children photos on the sides of milk cartons. A customer, a woman in her forties, was not amused, and raised nine shades of hell. I think he also wrote FORGET ABOUT IT, and NOW A SKELETON.
- Bill would agitate management by repeatedly taking bites of oversized Hershey bars – through the paper and everything — and returning them to the shelf. Customers would approach the owner or one of the managers, holding a candy bar with the corner bitten off (teef marks clearly visible), and their faces would turn blood red with anger. It never got old.
- During the New Coke fiasco, the owner of the store decided to hoard “classic” Coke, so he could sell it at a premium as soon it was off the market. The entire back room was filled with the stuff, stacked almost to the ceiling. One day we were out on the floor “working,” and heard the crashes begin. It went on and on. Nobody knows what set off the domino-effect, but most of the Coke stash was now ruined. And the owner said “goddammit” roughly 10,000 times in a half-hour.
- One of the stockers, I can’t remember who, pushed a shopping cart full of bananas into the walk-in cooler one night, thinking they needed to be refrigerated. When the produce manager arrived at work the next morning, the ‘nanners were totally and completely black. This wasn’t a malicious act, as I recall. Just innocent dumbassery… But we thought we’d never hear the end of it.
- A guy named Eddie and I were stocking frozen foods one evening, when one of us accidentally ripped open a bag containing balls of bread dough. I don’t know if these are still on the market, but they were softball-sized, and frozen solid. One of us (ahem) suggested we put one on a heater vent, to see what would happen. So, we went into the produce prep area, climbed up on a table, and sky-hooked the thing onto some ductwork. About thirty minutes later Eddie went to check on it, and returned with a worried expression. “Go look,” he told me. And when I went, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was almost the size of a beanbag chair, and quivering. Oh shit! Eventually it exploded, and there were great sheets of bread dough hanging from the rafters when day shift arrived. Eddie and I told them we had no idea how such a thing might have happened.
- One day a large black woman came in, filled up a shopping cart, and walked straight out the front door. One of the assistant managers, a guy named Skeeter, went running after her. He brought her back into the store, and told someone to call the police. The woman started hollering that she’d paid with “kumquat money,” and went wild. It took three or four of us to subdue her, and by that time Skeeter was already laid-out on the floor; she’d slugged him full in the jaw. She told the police about the kumquat money, and they discovered that she’d put a nickel in one of the windowsills. WTF? I still have no idea.
- Vincent and I were assigned an overnight project, which they foolishly allowed us to perform unsupervised. The store closed at midnight, and opened at 6 am. And we were in there, the whole time, by ourselves. We busted ass and finished the project within two hours, then cooked steaks in the deli, drank premium beers, and even prepared fully-loaded baked potatoes. When the poofter front-end manager arrived at 5, it smelled like a Bonanza steakhouse in there. But he was too afraid of Vincent to say anything about it.
- One day I was in the freezer, looking for a particular item that was needed on the floor. I stepped up on a box, to reach a high shelf, and my foot slipped. I came down backwards, ass-first onto the door handle. It ripped a giant hole through my jeans AND underwear, leaving a big flap of fabric and a naked butt crack. What the hell, man?? I stood there for a few seconds, deciding what to do. Then I walked to the front of the building, holding the flap in place with my right hand, and out the door. I walked home (two blocks), changed, and returned. Nobody even knew I was gone.
And I could easily come up with ten or twenty more quickie stories from that place, but that’s enough for one day. I know I’ve told some (or all) of those before, but can’t remember how long it’s been.
In any case, I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading.
See ya next time!