A lot of the things I do for money are part-time. One of those jobs is working in the seafood department of a grocery store. There are a lot of things you pick up that they don’t tell you in orientation. As with any job, some of the things you learn are good to know, and will help you become a better salesperson because you’re getting to know your customer base. Other things you learn are completely useless. Here are some of those things:
Things you learn while working in a grocery store in Southwest Virginia:
- Old people shop between 7am and 9pm.
- You [obviously] sell more seafood and milk [for some reason] during Lent than any other time of the year. Aside from Christmas.
- In this part of the country when you’re nice to a customer, (shockingly!) they are nice to you back.
- A lot of people prefer “krab meat” as opposed to crab meat. For those that don’t work in a seafood department, when “crab” is spelled with a “k”, that means it’s imitation. And the customers will argue with you when you tell them “it’s actually a fish”.
- I think there may be a mathematical relationship between a persons favorite NASCAR driver, and what kind of fish they buy most often.
- Some people want to complain because they are bitter people. EXAMPLE 1: There is a brand of egg rolls called “Chung’s” it’s made in the U.S.A. and distributed in the Mid-West. There are customers that won’t buy it because they think it’s from China, and won’t change their mind. Example 2: People will complain about the price of salmon (or whatever fish they want) going up and up and up! Even if it has been the same for months on end.
- There are customers out there that actually try to hurt employees feelings/make it their fault that they don’t like a particular type of fish.
- It doesn’t matter how good or bad your uniform looks–how subtle or flamboyant it is–people will still ask “Do you work here?” before they ask you the question they want to ask.
- A lot of customers come in regularly because let’s face it, people need groceries a lot. Some of them are good, and a pleasure to talk to, and you remember them. There are also some customers that are a pain in the ass. You remember them too.
- People will come up to you and ask where something is, and get upset when you don’t know.
- You might be buying shrimp and imitation krab meat, but chances are you’re paying the all shrimp price.
- There are more kinds of paper towels than you can imagine.
- For grocery store employees, there is one size extension cord they can use should they need it. It’s 150 feet. It doesn’t matter if you need it for 8 inches, you get 150 feet.
- Customers who have their hair dyed radical colors (blue, purple, green, etc.) are generally more fun and interesting to talk to.
- Pepsi delivery men seem to be happier, and more cooperative than their Coca-Cola counterparts.
- Men with mustaches generally shop later than everyone else. The bigger/longer the mustache, the later they shop!
- After about 10:30pm, just about any and every teenager in the store is inebriated in some way, shape, or form.
- [This is the way it should be everywhere] At a grocery store, if you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re early, you’re on time.
- Little kids don’t care where they vomit, or who is watching them.
- The amount of catfish a grocery store sells is directly related to how far south of the Mason-Dixon line that particular store is located.
- Apparently craw fish are the same deal, and they are sold in “even 17.5 lb. bags.”
- After a few days, you can tell what people do for a living by what kind of clothes they wear [e.g. painter, drywaller, manager, computer programmer]
- In that same vein, there is no shame in wearing a tool belt to go grocery shopping.
- If you work in an older building almost none of your freezer/cooler case thermometers work. Always trust your temperature gun!
- Also, if you work in an older building, you won’t have hot water after about 6:00 pm. It doesn’t matter if you close your department at 9.
- Male employees are supposed to shave every day. No matter what the customer base looks like.
- None of the clocks, not even your cell phone, are right. None of them except the time clock.
- Working with seafood, it’s possible to burn yourself at the exact moment you cut yourself.
- Two things parents should never be allowed to do:
- Buy their annoying 4 year old kid a harmonica.
- Let that kid run around a grocery store unsupervised with said harmonica.
- For grocery store employees: Every customer thinks that every employee knows where every item on every shelf is. No matter what department you work in.
- People get their food stamps at midnight on the first of the month. Grocery stores know this and stay open until 2am on those days, because by 11:50pm [read: 10 minutes before they get their stamps] they are loading up their carts to spend all of their food stamps by 12:15am.
- On Saturdays, tweens/teens buy out all solo cups and tang.
- It’s estimated that 83% of all grocery store employees are part-time.
- There is more drama between grocery store employees than there was in my middle school.
- One good thing about working in a meat/seafood department is that it’s like working in a restaurant, without ever hitting a dinner rush.
- I would be willing to bet good money that at least 90% of all the customers that ask a minimum of 15 questions to a clerk–walk away without buying the product at the end of their questionnaire.
- I would also bet that at least half of all people who partake in free samples, wait until the employee giving them out turns their back , so they can take more without the employee noticing. Why? I don’t know.
- There’s always one customer that comes around about once or twice a month just to poke their finger through anything shrink wrapped.
- Cleanliness really is next to Godliness.
- Common sense is next to impossible to find.
That’s about it. That’s what I’ve learned in my few short months of working at a grocery store. I don’t know if it’s the same all over the country, but that’s how it goes down here. For better or for worse, that’s how it goes down here.
See you from behind the counter.