Category Archives: working mom

Testing out the Creaky Writing Fingers Again

Hello? Hello? Anybody there?

I guess you can’t see all the blog posts that are in my mind, because they never got written down.

Remember? I started working at the grocery store in June. Two times I crept home from the store and wrote about my experience. Most other days, I collapsed on the couch and pondered the state of my aching knees, hips, feet, shoulders, arms, and hands. Even with that, it took me four months to quit the job, in tears, and begin to heal.

At first, I dreamed about the store. I missed it and had to clothespin my lips closed when I went in to shop lest I blurt out my desire to come back to the familiar pain.

A month of recovery later, my knees could bend without constant pain; my hips went back to their normally schedule programming; and the knot in my back had loosened.

Two months of recovery later, I can walk in the store, buy my pomegranates and cereal and grass-fed beef, and have but a distant memory of stuffing product on shelves, cleaning up after customers (such messy people), and rushing, rushing, rushing to get the unending and unreasonable to-do list a little smaller.

I do miss T., one of the store co-managers, and L., my remarkable boss, and N., a co-worker.

In the quiet of my home, the memory of the non-stop sensory stimulation continues to become more distant. No longer does the advertisement for Forever Stamps echo in my head. The ache in my hands from baling the cardboard has faded. Straightening hundreds of bottles of shampoo and body wash no longer takes up any space in my life.

Retail is kind of brutal, when all is said and done. Local store personnel, dedicated and committed, are constantly dealing with choices made by distant corporate types. Distant corporate types who occasionally come by, unannounced, and see that their minions are doing it all right. The pay is low, the hours are long, the work is hard, and the workers are faithful. Not all of them, of course, but the core group at my store were committed to providing the customer with a great shopping experience. And they did, as great as it can be when the shelves are mostly full of highly processed products, all crying out for attention — Buy me! Extra roll enclosed! See my colorful packaging! New! For a limited time! 

Plenty of other women my age, in my season of life, don’t have the luxury of deciding the job is too physically demanding. If nothing else, that brief foray into working in the retail grocery business opened my eyes to what many people have to do to earn minimum wage.

Testing. Testing. Check 1. 2. 

two weeks later

I’m back!

Since I last wrote, I’ve been focusing on adjusting to the many steps, constant kneeling and standing, lifting, and the unforgiving nature of concrete floors. Poor little feet! Poor back! Poor wrists! But, I think I am finally getting acclimated to the physical demands of my job.

From the first few days, when I was planning to quit every fifteen minutes, I have gotten to the place where I genuinely like this job. It truly is physically challenging, but there are so many little satisfactions with the job.

I love helping the people in the store. From the ones who have the “Which aisle is it in” look on their faces, to the elderly who so appreciate genuine interest and kindness, to people who have fewer financial resources, to the apparently grumpy people who smile when I greet them, each interaction makes me feel so thankful for the opportunity to give something to someone else.

Everyone I work with in my department is younger than I, but several of them have MUCH more experience than I do in this industry and I have much to learn. At the same time, my natural leadership abilities and my customer service orientation offer something to my co-workers, and of course, my customers.

Does this sound like a cover letter for a resume? Ooops!

To top it all off, the realizations just keep coming. Since I stock OTC, I have learned that there is a pill for everything. No, make that FIVE pills for everything. And for some things, there are literally hundreds of choices.

I feel like I live my life in a perpetual state of agog-ness, wherein I discover things that probably most people already know. For instance, Kepler had a couple bouts of diarrhea this winter. I did my preferred medical treatment: have him drink more water, and wait. Oh, and I would worry. He missed quite a bit of school. Color me agog when I see several items on the grocery shelf that deal with the symptoms of diarrhea! See? You already knew that existed, didn’t you. Not me.

In the picture of the tea, notice the box on top is oriented horizontally, and most of the rest are oriented vertically. When I first started stocking shelves, I was all indignant that some of the packages came in with horizontal packaging and sometimes the SAME THING came in with vertical packaging. I attributed this to the evils of marketing, as a secret ploy to get people to BUY MORE! IT’S NEW! It only took me, oh, FOUR WEEKS to realize that most items have horizontal on ONE side and vertical on the OTHER side, so that you can have the product name oriented correctly no matter how you stock your shelves. Doh!

As with the package orientation, I learn much of my job on my own. The instruction is sparse, and if I don’t have my “listening ears” on, sometimes I miss it! The area I am most uneducated in is the merchandising aspect, and I look forward to learning about that.

All in all, I feel like I am a valued member of a team that is serving my community well. And that’s very satisfying to experience in a job.