Yes, I still have tons of produce codes in my head after cashiering at Angeli's grocery store in Marinette, Wisconsin from age 15 1/2 until I finished college. Why is this a topic for a Write Relief Blog Post you may ask?!?! Read on...
I was at Aldi's this week at about 7:15 pm stocking up on some lasagna supplies. It was a weeknight and relatively quiet. I also didn't have my kiddos with me which made the trip even more peaceful ;)
I have always enjoyed grocery shopping so it is no surprise to me that the Nonprofit I chose to start in 2019 would have some connection. What do we need most of all to provide meals and the Right Relief to Caregivers?! Groceries!
Both my parents worked at a grocery store in college (where they actually met!) so I guess it is in my blood. And... it was Kyle's (my husband) high school job too: small world!
I remember interviewing in the summer because my "half birthday" would have been in July. Ironically, the owner of the grocery store was my sister's 1st grade teacher. So crazy! My parents had to drive me the first 6+ months I worked there until I got my license. Then when I could drive it was always a scheduling nightmare as to how my dad and I would share his car because my Mom worked until 5:00 at the bank. He would rush home mid afternoon from the paper where he was an editor and I'd go in for my 2:00-6:00 shift. The 'ole green Mercury Sable made many a trip back and forth from Marinette to Peshtigo where we lived (about 15 minute drive).
Angeli's had an employee picnic every August for staff and their families. It happened to be held at the park less than a mile from my house. Since I was hired in July, I was invited to attend right away that August. The Angeli's picnics actually deserves their own blog post they were so epic LOL. So much good food, BINGO and raffle prizes. And tons of ice cream treats in Blue Bunny coolers and all the soda you could drink. My Dad was a huge fan of any and all free food. And he had gotten to know many of the employees since he shopped there (before Aldi came to town) and from taking me to my shifts for so long. It is something I will always remember doing with my Dad.
Not to brag... but I actually got so good/fast at cashiering that I held the "fastest" checking rate among all cashiers. It was calculated by how many items per minute you scanned. I absolutely loved when overflowing carts would come to my lane. I am an early bird and enjoyed the 6am or 7am shifts on the weekends because, again, it was quiet and somewhat peaceful. There was always the "hum" of employees getting ready for the day and the early shoppers trying to beat the rush. And of course, there was always the smell of fresh donuts from the bakery.....
The 7am Sunday morning shift actually had the first hour set aside for "newspapers." The Green Bay Press Gazette was the closest paper that published on Sundays. It would come with thick advertisement inserts that had to be put into each paper by hand. I enjoyed doing this (even though it made my hands black from the ink!) because it was somewhat mindless and I also liked scanning the headlines and reading as I worked hehe. I will always have a love of newspapers because of my Dad's connection.
I eventually was trained for a few other departments like the Playland where parents dropped kiddos off while they shopped and a gas station attendant when that was added on. I helped stock and clean when it was slow at night. The nights especially in the summer were actually pretty busy and it never failed that a huge cart full would start the check out process at 9:55 pm right before 10:00 close. I handed out samples for some shifts and worked a few of the brat frys in the parking lot in the summer. I also remember once particularly frigid winter day that I got stuck standing at the entrance directing traffic. I think something was wrong with the automatic doors!
I continued coming back to work on my breaks from college and in the summers. It was always a nice change of pace from studying and more academic work. Working on holidays like Memorial Day and 4th of July was also a bonus with time and half pay. I enjoyed shopping for my family after shifts and picking up the sale items. I also always tried to build up the gas points so the green Sable could get a full tank for as cheap as possible. Angeli's also had a video rental section when I first started. My dad would request a movie for a Saturday night that I'd grab before I headed home.
Randomly, I ended up driving a deli employee to the hospital after she cut her hand prepping meats. Looking back, I have no idea why I was allowed to do this... wouldn't this be a manager's job?! I also recall the summer I had the worse bronchitis of my life. I didn't want to keep calling in sick because that just wasn't me. I started to feel better after antibiotics but still had a horrendous cough. I would go through an entire bag of cough drops during an 8 hour shift. There were a few times I had to step away from the register I was coughing so hard. SO embarrassing! "Sorry to be coughing all over your groceries.. I really am not contagious..." Talk about a time when a mask would have come in handy ;)
All of this experience in the grocery store field has led me to somewhat a "love" of grocery shopping even now. My preferred store is Aldi (was my Dad's favorite!) because of all the good random deals. Pick 'N Save is the main store in the Milwaukee area and I started shopping there too when I moved to Greendale in 2010 to start teaching. There were actually 2 of them super close to my apartment. Now in Menomonee Falls, we also have gone to Piggly Wiggly several times...mainly for small trips and donuts :)
Filling up a cart full of groceries for caregivers has given me such joy over this last year+. We did a Facebook Live video when we shopped for our first big family meal night at Kathy's House. The long receipt at the end and the pictures of all the food on the register were fun to see!
I look forward to many more shopping trips as we continue to chip away at our 5, 475 meal goal!
And... if you ever need to know the codes for grapes, celery, potatoes, cantaloupe... you know who to ask!