A Day in the Life at
It's 6:00 o'clock
in the morning, and all that greets me when I walk into
Kroger is silence, save for the quiet flush of the air
conditioner and the sound of the engines of the various
coolers, going. I go to the service desk
and retrieve the "manager's" U-SCAN keys, and before I can even
flick at least 1 light on, there is already somebody with
absolutely nothing better to do, asking, "Are you gonna open
I think to myself, we're the only 2 people up here
in the front, so I know you know I know that we both know that
that was a rhetorical question, right?
But, I paste on that legendary "retail" smile, so fake
and vacant, simply answering, " Yes, sir; you can come right
here," pointing to the nearest U-SCAN computer, the one closest
to the cashier-station, for the man looks like he lacks a great
amount of intelligence, and an even greater amount of common
Only buying a coffee and 2 donuts, his transaction
takes a full 5 minutes and ½, when it should only take
2…tops! And, it is a full 5 minutes
indeed, full of questions, expletives, and fallen facial
Around 8 now, after having battled relentlessly and
quite possibly, futilely, I take my 1st break, with
only enough energy to lay my head down and close my eyes,
banishing the world to nonexistence by shutting myself down,
forcing myself into a brief lull - mind, body, and soul, the
lull so sumptuous and plush, I want to stay lodged in that
world forever. But, I can't, because
it's only fifteen minutes, and we're on "Their," Corporate's,
I awake and make that treacherous journey back
downstairs, to my station; around twelve, the store is bustling
with activity, full of people and their variegated
personalities and problems.
I look at my watch, and it's only 12:15.Here on out,
it's all downhill, hell breaking loose and finally freezing
over. I have a line, a line that is
hardly a line at all, blotches of people blotting the
walk-space of the U-SCANs, each person in line, poised to
spring on the nearest available one, as the person using it
struggles through, practically rushing to finish due to the
anxiousness of the atmosphere, from the customer's
countenances, to the impatient stances, right back to the
thickness of "peak store-hour" business.
God, the U-SCAN seriously needs an ex-lax for it is
severely backed up, suffering a very bad case of
constipation. Lord, help me!
And, then, all at once, everyone collectively doesn't
know how to work the machines, voice-automated and on-screen
instructions going completely unheeded.
Goodness, these people drive on the road?!
No wonder there is such a high mortality rate and car
crashes, on the road. They don't pay
attention, and don't read!!
The Tribe of the Clueless refocuses its energies on a
combination of complaining and walking out, leaving their
groceries behind, in the middle of an order, grumbles and
voiced frustrations clouding the atmospheric space.
I look at my watch again, and it's now 1:30, and I have
yet to take my last break, for whatever retarded reason,
probably because the needs of the store, it being busy,
overrides my need for sanity and peace, because aren't we
service-people just a bunch of robots…models no. 16-34, edition
6, make: Kroger Mid-Atlantic.
I surrender myself to the power of "Whatever, it's
cool." The Floor Supervisor informs me,
being a day late and TWO dollars short, that I haven't taken my
last break. I look at my watch again,
and the face says, 1:45 pm. And you can
only guess what I say in return, " Whatever, it's cool…",
knowing full-well it isn't. Umm, how
about we do our jobs??
Well, I can at least say, the front-end managerial
staff takes note of the floundering customers stopped up at
U-SCAN and at registers 6 & 7; the
Front-End needed to take TWO ex-lax, for 2 lanes newly open,
the lines quickly thinning, it all flowing again.
Looking at the time on the credit-slip that prints, I
see it is now 2:03, and I patiently wait for my relief to show
up; she calls in late lots of times, and I pray that this isn't
one of those days…out of all days. I
look at credit-slip #10,750, and it is now 2:06! She is taking
longer to get here than Judgement Day!
Finally, she lackadaisically shuffles through the door,
clocks in, and wondrously takes forever and a day. As she arrives, I have nothing left to give but a
harsh look of annoyance and an even harsher
silence! Darnit, she deserves
I busy myself with the chore of trying to sign off from
the cashier-station, having to quickly sign into each
self-serve computer screen, before fully signing
out. I try to do it quick enough that a
customer won't come up and look at the screen with bewilderment
and ultimately ask, "Why does the screen say, 'PLEASE
WAIT'?" And I would say to myself,
it's called a segue, the transition period. I'm no
longer the "operator", for I am signed off, at last, Alexis,
the one who is relieving me, presently struggling with signing
on, a customer already saying, " Excuse me; that's the wrong
And immediately after, before she can even give an
answer, someone projects, from behind, " Ma'am, I need your
Having gotten my belongings, I clock out and head for
the door, not planning on stopping - for anything, or
anyone. Heading outside, I can already
hear Alexis gently intoning, in that "customer service" way,
"Ma'am, you have to ------ "
And that's all I hear, for it goes unfinished, as I
exit, out of earshot; I cross the
parking lot, never looking back.