Thursday, April 19, 2007

i am in training to serve you better

It was training night at the supermarket. Rows and rows of checkouts open (yippee) and operated by trainees (oh). I whizzed up to the register, unloaded my groceries and observed the learning process in action.

"Green bags. She has green bags," followed by a laboriously slow effort at hanging the bags ever so neatly onto the loading wrack.

"It's a special, so I remove the sticker, scan and type in the price," as she removed the sticker, scanned and typed in the price.

"Oh. That bags full," after which came another laborious hanging of the next bag.

"Cold things. I need to put them in the cold bag." Duly performed without hiccup.

Obviously an aural learner this girl, talking herself through each step of the transaction!

The gooby, big, yellow "I am in training to serve you better" badge that hasn't changed in 17 (gulp) years took me back to my own training as a checkout operator. Trying to remember which code went with which grocery. Carefully swiping cards for the electronic funds transfer. Hoping my smile compensated for my slowness (I went on to become the fastest in the store). It all came back to me.

My four years as a Jewels Foodstore checkout chick broadened my world. Background music introduced me to pop culture (think Joyride: Roxette, I will always love you: Whitney Houston, Everything I do (I do it for you): Bryan Adams), magazines revealed to me the world of previously unknown celebrities (Tom and Nicole, Rod Stewart and Rachel Hunter) and I earned enough money to buy freedom. Oh, and my own clothes!

I learned about customer service (rule number 1: the customer is ALWAYS right), petty theft, rotation of stock (actually Dad had already taught me that in the fridge at home), cigarettes (I liked Longbeach best - they had the nicest packaging of course), money handling and how long you could pack shelves in the freezer without donning a (dirty) coat and gloves (a minute or two at best).

I knew the store layout like the back of my hand (to this day when I can't find something in the supermarket I think back to the old days and try to remember what was grouped together there) and I developed confidence in talking to people (haven't been able to stop me since).

Ah, those were the days, when life was fresh and each day was an incredible discovery.

"Here's your receipt and thankyou for your patience," gently called me back to the present.

Patience? No problem - I remember what it was like.

I did manage to resist smiling stupidly and spilling out long stories of my own checkout chick experiences. She didn't really need any help from me - she did a great job!

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At 3:29 am, April 20, 2007, Blogger Deanna said...

I worked in a 7-Eleven convenience store (do you have them there?). Many similarities to your memories, but on a smaller scale. Belair cigarettes had the prettiest package, I think. And I sold Slurpees. :o)


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