Do You Ever Get Tired of Being Nice?

(this post may not be particularly relevant to the chronically snarky)

I am generally considered to be a very nice person. Even the wildlife in our backyard are not afraid of me. The deer and even the groundhogs only look to make sure it’s not a stranger. A raccoon (non-rabid) tried to intimidate me on my own porch. Nevertheless, there are times when I want to say “Were you born that way or did you have to study to get that attitude/behavior?”

For example, I have a co-worker in cheese who started a few weeks ago. When I met her, she was extremely nice and outgoing. Apparently I made a mistake when I told her that the first thing that we had to do in the mornings was to unload the pallets and start stocking. She was arranging the shelves (for two hours).  Apparently she felt that doing the real manual labor was meant for someone else.  She barely spoke to me the rest of the day except to tell me that I was defensive (her radar was glitchy – I was totally ticked off). It generally got worse from there, by the middle of the next Saturday, she was not talking to me at all. When they asked if I would be willing to give up mid-week day off for Saturdays (really – it was a sincere question), it took all my will-power to not do a happy-dance in front of her.

I guess there has not yet been enough time to heal this wound. Last Friday as I was working. I heard someone say “There’s a mess on the floor.” I turned around and there she was – pointing at a trail of coffee on the floor. No “hello”, no “how are you”. I realized that perhaps I had been wrong in being upset that she wouldn’t talk to me – silence was much better than being treated like her servant.

Speaking of being treated like a servant, it appears that there has been a severe decline in mothers’ teaching their children to pick up for themselves. The first thing I have to do every morning is pick up all the stuff people have left behind the previous day. I kinda get the things from the other fresh food departments – I’m generally the last one they go through and they put the stuff they got cold somewhere to keep it cold (being way too much trouble to go back the few hundred feet to return it). What I don’t get is people who leave their canned chili in the coolers. (Are you that embarrassed to tell the cashier that you changed your mind?) But the ones that are truly annoying are the ones who leave their trash for me. (You really couldn’t see that we have trash cans every few aisles for your empty Starbucks cup?) An all-time low was the person who left chewed gum on a shelf, although the person who left cherry pits was a close second. Probably the same person who used the sanitizing wipe at the door so they wouldn’t get germs from the cart.

Other times, I would really like to be someone’s mother. A woman with two children came through. While she was shopping, her kids were playing with (it seemed) everything in the aisle. Finally I asked them to stop because they were making the cheese warm. (Why would you hug a hunk of cheese tightly to your chest in the first place?) The mother turns around and says “Did you hear what she said?” I guess I should be grateful she didn’t yell at me for upsetting her kids.

There’s nothing like the parent whose child is screaming at the top of their lungs for no apparent reason. Some parents are embarrassed and try to calm the child down. Some try to ignore the child and hope that they will get tired (apparently not realizing that the rest of us are already tired enough of it to tell the parent that mother-in-law’s tongue will temporarily freeze the vocal cords and we would be happy to check the nursery to see if they have any). The “winner” in this group was the lady who was having a yelling contest with her toddler to see which one of them could make more noise. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to recommend an amusement park where they welcome that type of behavior.

When buying packaged cheese, why do some people go through every package to make sure they have the one farthest away from its expiration date? It’s not milk or yogurt, where a couple of days make a difference. When it is July and the front package expires November 7, is it really necessary to pull everything off the shelf to find the ones at the back that are dated November 24? Are you really planning your Thanksgiving dinner now? And when you’re done, perhaps you could return them to the hook – even put the newer ones at the front so the next person doesn’t have to waste time rooting through everything. Oh yeah, it’s my job to pick up after you. I actually had a woman complain because she had gone through every jug of juice on the next aisle and they had put the newer ones in the front – she had wasted her time going through them all.

I was hired just before Christmas 2011. The only thing I really remember about the season was the woman who came in around 2p on Christmas Eve. She wanted shredded sharp cheddar cheese. For some reason it had been a big year for shredded sharp cheddar, and we were out. The woman stood in the middle of aisle and screamed that I was ruining her Christmas. Why? Was she giving someone important a bag of cheese as a gift and waited until the last minute to make sure it was fresh? Had she suddenly found the perfect recipe that would bring the true spirit of Christmas to her family? Now she was going to have to go to another store and she didn’t have time for that! I hope she went to one of our competitors and found what she was looking for – maybe I’ll never see her again.

The past Christmas was fine, but I met that lady’s soul-mate at Easter. We sell pre-made mashed potatoes in a bag. The day before Easter a woman came in looking for them and the shelf was empty. I checked in the cooler, but had no luck. I told her we were out and apologized (company policy is that we apologize for anything at inconveniences the customer – we spend a lot of time apologizing). The woman wasn’t interested. She needed those potatoes and wanted to know how we could possibly run out of mashed potatoes the day before Easter. I told her we had a different brand in another department. She said she wanted this brand. I guess it was lucky I didn’t suggest she make them from real potatoes.

There are quite a few other “interesting” people who have passed through, but they will have to wait for another time.



It’s been a big week for me at Ralph’s Mega-Mart. Starting Sunday, I am now a full-time employee.

Since everyone starts as a part-time employee, I wasn’t sure how one moved to full-time. Since there are so few of them, I thought maybe someone had to die, and the interested person with the most seniority would move up. Or you had to be there a certain amount of time (if you survived 10 years, they figured you weren’t going anywhere and they might as well offer you benefits.)  Turns out it is not quite that difficult. The requirement is that you average 36 hours/week for 2 consecutive quarters. Of course, it is management’s responsibility to ensure that (virtually) no one averages 36 hours/week.

Luckily, I work in the deli, the graveyard of hopes and dreams in the store. It seems that no matter how many people they hire, they never have enough stay to staff the place. So I have been working full-time hours as a part-time employee for awhile.

Not so luckily, it has taken a couple of tries to get the status change. They really don’t like full-time employees because of the benefit costs (heaven knows the hourly rate isn’t going to to break them). I could have switched in January except I was sick for a week in October (they also really hate it when their employees get sick or injured – destroys productivity). Because we don’t get sick-time (surprise!), it was considered an unpaid leave. A week with no hours messes with the average of a part-time employee (guessing it’s all part of the low pay/high expectations charm of the big-box culture). So I had to start over again in January.

By July 1, I had the numbers. However, you have to ask to be made full-time. And apparently you have to ask right away.  I asked the Admin Asst (of course we don’t have anyone who does HR) on the 9th and was told that I had to talk to management immediately. I only knew I had to ask because one of the other employees had told me during my first month of the job. (At the time I thought she was crazy – why would anyone want to be there full-time. Of course that was before I realized that I would never make enough money there to go to the doctor for the rest of my life.)

So I went to my Team Leader to tell her that I wanted to go full-time. It was her first day as TL (both of the previous two people in the position left as broken women), and she wanted to know why I was telling her. She called her boss (they have weird titles there, and I can’t remember his).

He met with me and told me that I would need to be fully available. We went over my attendance. I cannot get used to using a time-clock and being required to take breaks. If you are a minute late in the morning, at break, or on lunch, the clock forgives you. Otherwise you get “written up”. I’m not sure why we did the review, the rules don’t say anything about needing to be point-free to change status (although by this point I’m wondering if the whole thing might be pointless.)

So I was eligible and the change was made (to their credit, it was the beginning of the following week). I now have more vacation days, a better 401(k) match, better health care, and some change to my pension that I don’t remember. When I hired in they told me that I was not eligible for the hourly pension; the benefit system says I have been since my hire date (they really need HR people).

So am I a happy clam now? Relatively speaking, yes. Total availability means that I have to work whenever they schedule me. I am not overly worried about being put on midnights – it requires a $0.25/hr premium. The manager-guy told me my hours wouldn’t change – of course, I couldn’t see the asterisk saying it was subject to change at any time. I am no longer allowed to take unpaid time off. So I guess if some kind of crisis arises, I need to call in. That gives me a “point” on my record (which I guess is their idea of a deterrent). If I know I need a day off, I have to work on one of my regularly scheduled off days. So basically, I am at their mercy as to when I need to be there (I’m not really sure how that differs significantly from part-time). Like everything else there, I’m sure

So I guess I officially have a “real” job. My professors would be so proud of me.