The summer after freshman year of college, I worked for three excruciatingly long months as a checkout person at a grocery store. As a counselor and a coach, I remind my clients of these lessons on a daily basis, but I’m going to translate them to you here, grocery-store style.
Here’s the first one: don’t procrastinate too long or you end up having to take what’s left over. In my case, the procrastination involved a long-distance boyfriend and far too many trips to Athens, Georgia, waiting too long to look for a summer job, and having to work at Delmonico’s in Birmingham (may it RIP). My friends were heading to great internships and working in music stores and I was getting verbally abused and wearing a uniform every day. Enough said. Lesson: don’t wait until you’re desperate to start looking. You’ll limit your choices.
Here’s an important one: don’t cater to bizarre demands. Ever. You’ll get trapped repeating them over the long haul. Example: On my second day of work, a co-worker pointed at a sour-looking customer in a red fedora, looked at me grimly, and said, “You better hope that HE is never in your line!” When I pressed her on the topic, she told me that he was exceedingly picky about how his groceries got handled. As in, he complained to the manager if he perceived that you were “too rough” with his stuff. Three days later, he was in my line. I tried to be as careful as I could. He glared at me menacingly as I took 15 minutes to scan his groceries, hands trembling, placing the Metamucil in the bag as if it were a newborn. With two hands, I placed the orange in it’s own bag so that it wouldn’t be bruised. By the time I finished, he was the only person left in line, and he was quivering. He snatched the bags from my hands and walked over the manager, and started speaking, gesturing wildly and pointing at me repeatedly. I was terrified. After he left, the manager walked over to me, a wide smile on his face. He said, ‘he told me, "that red-haired girl is the only person in this store who KNOWS how to handle groceries, and I won’t go to anyone else again, ever!"” And he didn’t.