Greetings From Down Under Mates…

No, I am not on vacation in Australia or New Zealand…nothing anywhere near as exciting…Hell, I’m not even sure when I’ll take vacation again…

The down under I’m referring to is from underneath the wheels of the bus that myself and my fellow team leaders…there’s 6 of us altogether…are about to be and already have been thrown under by our employer, the grocery store where we work…

Ever since myself and my co-workers started working there, we have defended and carried out the store’s strict policy on the sale of alcohol…everyone gets carded, everyone must present a valid form of identification…drivers license, passport, military identification…EVERYONE…Hell, I’ve carded a 91 year old man once and felt ridiculous doing it…but it was the policy, and we pledged allegiance to the store’s law…

An unpleasant event happened in the store a few weeks ago in which one of my co-leaders was called to the cafe checkout to settle an identification dispute…the customer did NOT have a valid identification and became upset when he was denied his purchase…the employee followed the rules he was given…during this time, another customer inserted himself into the transaction, offering to purchase the alcohol for the customer…he also identified himself as a police officer, although that claim was never actually proven…a police officer should know the value of following laws and rules…the employee explained he could not purchase the items for the customer and why he couldn’t, and unfortunately this is where the story takes a sad and ugly turn for everyone…

At this point the customer decided that the employees actions were based on his race and not his lack of proper identification…a claim that was just NOT TRUE…the employee was following the policies he had been given…the customer also decided that he would pull out his cell phone and begin Facebook living the event…this part of the story has never proven out either, but taking videos of the employees working in the store is also a violation of policy…the customer should have been asked to leave the store at this point…not to mention I think it’s a clear violation of someone’s personal rights to take photos or videos of them and then beam them across the internet without their permission…call me old fashioned, because I am…

As you can imagine, word of this brouhaha…ha…spread to the store manager and an area manager who came down to speak with everyone involved…and when the dust settled?…they threw the employee under the bus and gave the customer what he wanted…making the employee look like a fool for following the policy that the owners and the state put in place for these types of situations…they threw him under the bus for the sake of one customer…

Part of the actions to override the employee by the manager can probably be attributed to the ridiculous actions of some Starbucks employees in Philadelphia…they didn’t want to have their own Starbucks situation on their hands…and I somewhat get that…but alcohol policies are put in place to protect everyone…the store, the employee, and the public…what happens when a possibly intoxicated customer comes through a line to purchase more alcohol and we deny the purchase…as employees we are put out there (empowered?) to make these sometimes difficult decisions…and they do happen…sometimes it’s alcohol related…other times it might be when to take back merchandise on a customer return…another policy which is quickly becoming a big grey sticky wicket as well…but the hardest ones involve alcohol…

By leaving the door open to interpretation of the policy, there is the clear possibility that we will be asked to override the cashiers potentially making them look bad to the buying public as well…employee vs. employee…and that ain’t a good idea…and what happens if you have customers who pick up on the fact we’ve weakened our policy… don’t think for a second that they won’t…they WILL say they saw us do it for someone else and why are we singling them out…they without question will…

There are still issues in our lives that require strict rules and regulations and they can’t be open to interpretation…they’re there for the protection for everyone…and they need to be supported by those tasked with creating them, and those they hire to carry them out…

…whoever said life as a grocer was easy…

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Geez Louise…This Guy Again?…

Working as a grocer, I’ve come to learn that we all have our favorite and not-so-favorite customers…and of course there’s always another manager with their own customer or with their own story of when all hell broke loose like you’ve never seen before…well other than a few mulch fires or a group of customers…although they never came into the store to buy anything…they just stood in front of the entrance to the store staring at their cell phones like some kind of cult…looking for some kind of Pokémon character that someone said showed up…I don’t really have any of those hell breaking loose stories…but, I do now have my most dreaded customer…I’ve actually already written about him in another post…

“Excuse Me Sir, But I Am Not A Liar”…

…it’s now this flippin’ guy…I actually had another interaction with him when he accused the store of false advertising and he wanted to call corporate to complain about their deceptive practices…all because he wanted to mix a Pepsi 12 pack with two Coke 12 packs and get the discount that Coke was offering when you buy three (3) Coke 12 packs…we gave it to him anyway because he was becoming a disruption…

…and then out of the blue this week, he pops back into my life, charging out of the register line he was waiting in to loudly impart this wisdom on me…

“You know who doesn’t lie, Ann Coulter doesn’t lie…that’s who…Ann Coulter doesn’t lie.”

Well, I don’t know if she does or doesn’t…quite frankly I’ve never really read or listened to anything she says…and to be honest, I certainly won’t based on his recommendation. It also made me wonder if, since this was now our third conversation based on truthfulness and transparency…was he now openly calling me a liar in front of all of our customers and my co-workers?…how should I respond?…just as quickly, he was gone again, back in his line, trying to now prove to other customers as well, that Ann Coulter did tell the truth…

After thinking on it for awhile, I decided a couple of things…never again would I let this guy challenge my honesty…second, from now on the deal is the deal, I won’t mix 12 packs of soda…let him call corporate…and finally…I’ll never have a most dreaded customer…I’m doing away with it…I won’t give guys like this the chance to say they’re the “most” anything…

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“Excuse Me Sir, But I Am Not A Liar”…

Had a strange, somewhat interesting conversation with a customer at the market the other day. This customer was in search of a manager who he thought could somehow enable corporate changes in our policy of who gets carded when purchasing alcohol in our store. He found me instead…which is to say his dream of corporate change was about to head over the falls in a barrel…a cheaply one made at that…

…So this gentleman’s disagreement was that we were lying about WHY we card our customers when purchasing alcohol…I gave him the most obvious answers…the answers he was really entitled to…not good enough for him…he insisted I tell the truth…I promised him I was…not good enough…the real truth, like him, was out there, and he wanted that other truth…tiring of his personal agenda, I pressed him back to tell me why he thought we carded all customers…his answer was both simplistic and obvious…Captain Obvious-like obvious…his answer was liability

It was here that I decided I had enough of this conversation…of course we do it to reduce our liability…what company doesn’t put rules in place to protect themselves from liability?…he then went on a rant about how this country had too many regulations…how the population was too divided against itself…how there were too many hand-outs…our politicians were failing in their duty to us…he was really warming up now…and starting to Infect other customers happy little Saturday morning grocery shopping experience…time to change the subject back to his initial complaint…so I simply asked him if for some reason he had been denied a purchase in our establishment today…his answer was almost ridiculous when you consider all the argument he had put into it…he only drinks once, maybe twice a year…my first thought was that maybe today was one of those days?…a thought I kept to myself by the way…

 After a couple of minutes of back and forth I decided I had to politely end this guys dream…EA164E10-C2FD-4190-A954-F50535481935…one technique I’ve developed is to politely ask the customer’s name and shake their hand signaling my intention to move on and end a pretty much no-win circular conversation…but with this guy I felt a couple things needed to be cleared up first…after all I gave this guy a lot of time…so I made sure that he understood that his wish for us to change our carding policy would not happen, not even a little bit…and for some reason…using this interaction to improve my ability to understand other people’s motives…I was interested to know what this customer’s political party affiliation was, if he had one?…his complaints of too many regulations…of a nation divided…his objection to some, not all social programs (hand-outs)…of politicians who fail to do what he thought was right (drain the swamp?)…and his answer didn’t surprise me…

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Finally…I’m Out…Almost…

I got an unexpected gift in the mail this week…another check for $600 from Federal Express as part of their Contractor class action settlement…I guess there were some in the class who never claimed their portion of the money?…

After I signed the check and handed it over to my wife to deposit electronically, two things came to mind…the first you probably already guessed…why the hell did I waste my time signing something that just got deposited electronically?…and that this check officially ended any business relationship with Fred Smith and his management team of  hired thugs, backstabbing thieves, and overpaid lawyers…I only say overpaid because even the lawyers couldn’t defend that ridiculous contractor model FedEx they had…and still have by the way, they just call it something different now…but who knows?…maybe I’m wrong and FedEx was elated to be paying hundreds of millions of dollars to We the Uneducated Rabble who chose to Rebel against their authoritarian rules…yeah, right!…because that’s what soulless dictators enjoy the most…a little rebellion…

Anyway, I took this opportunity to do something else I’ve held off from doing…getting rid of all that FedEx clothing I had to purchase through the years…the shorts and long pants I bagged and sent off to the nearest clothing collection bin…the shirts, which I obviously couldn’t give away or give back…although, I really would have enjoyed sending them back to Fred down there in Memphis, or to his minions in Pittsburgh…but no, these I took delight in ripping them in half making them of no use to anyone…and for me this really signaled that I’m out, for real, that part of my life is now in the past…almost…let me clarify…my days of driving a truck…of working 10+ hour days with no overtime…working 6 days a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas, with no overtime…working with no paid time off of any kind…ARE OVER!

I still have a connection to FredEx…a business arrangement with my former employer who is a FedEx contractor…and it still has a couple of years to go…but as of now…and I can’t say this negatively enough… “Fred Smith, you can kiss my Irish @$$, I’m through with you! I’m a grocer now. Never will I ever write about you and your independent contractor sham of a business model.”…on these pages…for the most part…(however I do reserve the right to re-post my holiday classic FedEx mutants post…)

And to my former employer…don’t sweat it…I didn’t cut up your shirts with your company logo…I’m saving them for you…you know, the ones without all of the salt stains from my sweat…

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The People I Meet…

 

The current job I’m in as a grocer allows me to speak with many people everyday …some I know already, some I’m meeting for the first time…and yes, of course there are some I wish I had never met… “I’m sorry, (insert sir or ma’am here) this is a grocery store and you might have to wait in a checkout line for a few minutes…what makes you think your time is so much more important than anyone else’s?”…not that I would ever say that…

…and of course there are a whole new cast of characters who have entered my so-called life…the nice lady who calls me sport all the time…I’m 58 years old for craps sake, nobody’s called me that since my early twenties…the nice guy who wore his New York football Giants jacket into the store everyday…haven’t seen that jacket since the Eagles won the Super Bowl…and then there was the pharmaceutical industry conspiracy guy who spoke in whispers and who told me he was being black-balled out of the industry by his former employer…he actually took his groceries out to his car and came back into the store to share more of his job history EA164E10-C2FD-4190-A954-F50535481935and his thoughts on what’s wrong with this country…this was at 1:30 A.M. and after letting him go on for a couple minutes, I finally had to ask him to leave the store…he was too strange even for me…

…and not to be left out…the folks who stop over from the nearby gym…who love to  Flaunt the results of their winter spent working out in various forms of dress and not so dressed to do their shopping after their workouts…with warmer months coming…and there’s really no way to write this without sounding like a creeper…but, I can only imagine what they’ll be wearing or hardly wearing into the store…

but those are just a few of the people I see…this post is about a young lady who is a imageco-worker that I’ve gotten to know because she works at our Customer Service desk which is also part of the department I work in…she told me one day this week that she was a volunteer with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and that after work she would be visiting the home of a critically ill child where, thanks to Make-A-Wish, she would get to tell this child that his wish of a trip to Disney World had been fulfilled…

I only share this story because so many times I might hear someone of my generation be critical of “those lazy, little snowflakes”…this person I’ve met shows that just volunteering and giving of your precious time can help make life a little better for those living in life-threatening situations…so next time you’re standing in a check-out line fuming over the few minutes it’s taking from your day…be mad at yourself for picking the wrong line…or you can use that time instead to think about what you might do to make life better for someone who may not be as fortunate as you…

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So Long 2017…You Sucked…You Sucked Hard…

It’s New Years Eve and I’m spending the last few minutes of the year watching some King Arthur movie on television…it’s not even a good one with Sean Connery or anything…my wife and son are both sick…struck down by their first colds of the winter season…even my loyal dog Bailey has abandoned me for a better spot on his bed in front of the fireplace…to be quite honest?…I’m okay with all of it…2017 hasn’t given me a whole hell of a lot to celebrate anyway…

Some bloggers at this point might break into a lengthy diatribe about Narcissistic Number 45 or our dysfunctional Senate and House of Representatives…how the new tax plan will only benefit the extremely wealthy…like them…or about the abuses that have come to light by so many men of power and influence…but no, this year has sucked for me for so many other reasons…reasons I wouldn’t wish on anyone…

For the second time this year, I’m watching as my wife struggles to find another job…as a consultant we always understood that she would be going from contract to contract…this last one ended much earlier than we anticipated…not to mention it comes at a time of year when companies just aren’t hiring…in 2017, thanks to job changes, our family was covered under 4 different health insurance policies…each one progressively more expensive than the previous one…after so many years of stability…healthcare had become a huge financial burden for us…

In October, after a short illness, my father-in-law Joe passed away…Joe accepted me into his family…despite all of the negatives I brought with me as a young and immature man…and he treated me more like a son than a son-in-law…unfortunately, I didn’t always show him as much loyalty as he deserved…

My daughter chose that weekend to also deliver a gut punch that has changed our relationship…she will be going into the Navy in January…yes, I should be happy and very proud of her decision, but I’m not…when I hear her talk about it?…she sounds like a commercial and her reasons just don’t ring true with me…part of my disappointment with her decision comes from my own past…I never went to college…it was something my family could never afford…I turned 18 and went to work at the sewer plant…I literally shoveled shit for a living…my wife and I put my daughter through 4 years of a very expensive private college…maybe I expected her to graduate…get a job I approved of…start a family…all of those things are on hold now while she pursues a career I’m not sure she really wants…then again, maybe I don’t know her as well as I thought I did…

But 2017 wasn’t done yet…the final blow coming when I learned a close friend who I grew up with in New Jersey was killed in Maryland…as painful and as difficult for me to accept that he’s no longer here, I can’t imagine the pain his wife, his sons, his parents and his brother are feeling now…

I included links…my own little depressing year in review if you will…hope you will take the time to read them…

Worst Christmas Card Ever…

And Then She Broke My Heart…

Oh Joe? Sadly, Won’t See Him No More…

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I can honestly say that not everything about 2017 was bad…I landed a new job…I’m no longer a truck driver…I’m a grocer…more about that here…

The Best Worst Decision I’ve Ever Made?…

I participated in…to say I competed in would be too much of a stretch…my first half marathon…and I raised more money for St. Jude’s Childrens Hospital while I did it…

I have a lot to learn in 2018…my training as a grocer is much more extensive than you would think…definitely more than I thought…but it also allows me many more opportunities for success than a life of driving…I hope…

I know my wife will land a new job this year…she has too much experience…she’s too smart…too driven not to…I think if I have one concern right now it’s this guy (this post is short, I promise)…

When Bailey Lays Around the House…

Oh, and my son finally finishing college and finding a good job…but, at least I have my health…some health…maybe we should wait on that Conversation  …I’ll let you know after my physical on the 8th…

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Frogger…Valerie Bertinelli…And Sir Isaac Newton

On a recent Sunday morning at the grocery store, as part of my position as junior Service Team Leader (who says seniority doesn’t have its advantages?) I had to head out to the parking lot to join in what I like to call shopping cart FROGGER…you remember, that video game where you have to get frogs across a road full of traffic or a river with hungry alligators?…

Now, our store has literally hundreds of carts available for customers…and being a Sunday morning, the place was jumping by 9 AM…retrieving grocery carts doesn’t really take a lot of thought, more brawn than brains…and at my workplace it’s treated like an all-day job with anywhere between 2-4 employees retrieving carts depending on both day and time of day…they do other things too, emptying trash, assisting customers to their cars…they can be very helpful…

It was while pushing 7 or 8 smaller carts from one of the more distant corrals…and dodging not one, but two different customers who chose to back out of their spots with no regard for me or anyone else…that for some reason, I began to think about Frogger and Newton’s Laws of Motion…excuse me, Sir Isaac Newton…and how all this applied to the job I was doing…things in motion staying in motion…equal and opposite forces…that 3 laws crap…

Let me try to apply Newton’s laws to the simple act of pushing grocery carts…the carts will keep moving as long as I’m pushing them…or until another force…say, the bumper of that car backing out of a parking space?…is applied against mine…when put that way, it’s pretty easy to see where Newton was going, am I right?…

0E1EFA71-B904-40D0-B237-B4052EAF8AD6I’m no physicist, but I remember this stuff being much more difficult in high school, mostly because I was an idiot…but also because the girl in front of me could have been Valerie Bertinelli’s doppelgänger…remember her?…she was the good daughter on “One Day At A Time” and eventually married Eddie Van Halen?…difficult to concentrate on Newton’s nonsense with a really cute-almost Valerie Bertinelli sitting at the desk just in front of me…ignoring me…the whole semester…I often wonder if Newton would have been so smart if he had someone who looked like Valerie Bertinelli sitting at the desk in front of him?…