Working inside a grocery store

I got a chance to work inside a grocery store several years ago.  It was an adventure.  Today I’d like to share my experience.

After leaving the engineering career, I took a short break.  Then got a personal banker job. That bank branch was located at the corner inside a grocery store.  That was very cool to me.

It was my childhood dream working in a grocery store:

My childhood dream was really not that ambitious.  Why grocery store?  It sounds weird.

Because I loved candy as a child, and my family was too poor to buy the candy for me.  It seemed to me that, the only way to eat the endless candy was working in the grocery store, as that’s where the candy came from.

A simple dream.  But it never came true, as I chose the different career path.  As I got older, candy stopped appealing to me, as I could buy it anytime.

Sometimes, the stuff only looks precious when you can’t afford it.  It’s just like something dangling up in the air, you try to jump and catch it, but are never able to reach it.  How attractive is that?

But the smell of candy always brings back my childhood dream.

The smell of the grocery store:

I have a very sensitive nose.  In many cases, it’s not a great thing.

Though the bank was inside that grocery store, the dirty money didn’t smell that much.

Instead, the roast chicken smell was always lingering in the air, as the bank was very close to the deli section.

And the pharmacy was just next to us.  The white coats of the pharmacists always reminded me of the hospital smell of disinfectants and sanitizers.  Not a nice combo: smells of chickens, drugs, and sanitizers.

The bank branch was tiny, and didn’t have restrooms or kitchen faucets for employees.  So we had to use the common restrooms inside the grocery store.

I love drinking hot water, and brought over my own electric kettle.  But where can I get the water?  The store restroom.  Drinking water is not supposed to come from the restroom, right?  That’s something that took me a while to get used to.

One day I walked into the restroom, the stinky smell made me hard to breath.  What’s going on there?  It turned out that, a homeless lady was there, with a big baggage on the floor.  Her sheepish smile could tell that life must be hard.

Helping customers was fun, most of the time.  Some came for shopping, and stopped at our counter for a quick chat and laugh.  If in a hurry, they just waved us from a distance, and we waved back.

One of my coworkers had a hard time tolerating that stinky and sweaty smell from a few customers.  It happened more in the summer.  She had a spray on her desk.  Once the customer left, she would spray the air religiously.

I had to laugh about her chemical spray.  She must be thinking the smells A + B = C.  No, I feel A + B is still A + B.  It’s a physical mix, not a chemical reaction.  To me, it’s even getting worse.  I hate the spray, as much as I hate the sweaty smell.

Handy in spending money:

Yeah, really, there is no place closer where you can spend the money.

The bank was very close to the main entrance of the store.  The flashy display was always on that big spot, and changed quickly based on the seasons and holidays.  I could see it every day from the bank, and got the sense which holiday was on the way.

I have to admit, the temptation was there.  Before Easter, there were two cute stuffed bunnies sitting at the top of the pile, one was pink, and the other was aero blue.  I just fell in love with both, and really itched to buy them.  It was $10 each.  I was so relieved that, Easter was finally over and the two bunnies disappeared before I opened my purse.

Another time was a set of patio table and 4 chairs.  It really looked nice sitting there in the store.  I knew in my heart, it was just some patio furniture.  It wouldn’t look great anymore if they have been sitting outdoor for 6 months.  They would collect dust, and look ugly.  Quite a reasoning over impulse to me.

My coworkers were really nice.  When they went to get some pops, chips, or chocolates, they always asked me: “Helen, do you need anything there?”  It was really a good team to work with.

After work, sometimes I grabbed milk, bread or produce quickly for my family.  How handy is that?  I loved that convenience.

Other perks working in the grocery store:

The parking lot was huge.  It’s so cool.  I usually parked my car far away from the regular customer traffic to avoid any scratches.

One day in the summer, the grocery store decided to do some promotions in that parking lot.  Other businesses like our bank joined them.

Music was blasted, and snacks were served.  People played some games, and danced.  Our bank had a cargo van, equipped with a freezer full of popsicles.

I was so happy to be that gal giving away popsicles, and some cheap bags with the name of the bank.  Kids loved popsicles, and adults loved those bags, as they were free.

One cop was there as well, just made sure there was no trouble.  After seeing me smile ear to ear, the cop said: “You are having fun there, aren’t you?”

Sure, the popsicles were bought by the bank.  I loved to see the kids smile and choose their favorite flavor of the popsicles.  And I was paid for having a good time.  That’s much more fun than selling credit cards.

Summary:

I worked inside the grocery store for probably 9 months.  The new bank branch was built at the same parking lot.  My coworkers and I were so excited to see how our branch was built progressively each day, from the time of ground breaking.  It was like watching a baby growing up.

Finally we said goodbye to the grocery store, and embraced the comfort of a brand new and formal bank branch.  Yes, we got the nice restroom, beautiful kitchen with faucet and sink, huge windows with gorgeous view when sun goes down.

No more smell of roast chicken, or homeless encounter.  No more the Salvation Army bell ringings before the Christmas.  No more customers’ waving.

It was a good time working inside the grocery store.

Have you ever worked in a grocery store?  If yes, did you like it?

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6 Responses

  1. Caroline says:

    Hi Helen,
    I never worked inside a grocery store but I would probably spend more if I did…all the temptations!

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Caroline, yeah, the temptation is there. Eating unhealthy snacks, and spending money, especially before the big holidays.

  2. Joe says:

    Wow, thanks for sharing your experience. I haven’t worked in a grocery store, but it’d probably get on my nerve very quickly. It’s hard to deal with people. Although, working in a bank branch sounds okay. You don’t have to deal with customers all day like the check out people. They rarely look happy. 🙂

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Joe, serving customers is a tough job. Actually working at the bank, I had to help the customers everyday. Most of them were nice, but some were so hard and demanding to deal with. It was not that fun. I was pretty much an outsider, just stayed on the job for 1.5 years to try something new. Many times, job is just a job, not exciting. Retirement is the best to me.

  3. Hi Helen, Restaurant experience here, no grocery store jobs. Restaurants are a different slice of life too. Do you still work at the bank and how does one transition from engineering to personal banking? Could make for a good blog post some day. Tom

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Tom, thanks. I’m sure working at restaurants must be very different. I don’t work anymore, happily retired. That was 4 years ago when I worked at the bank. My original thought was becoming a financial advisor, but couldn’t get a job. A bank offered me a personal banker position, and I took it. Tried to learn how to sell stuff, and found out (actually confirmed) that sales are not in my DNA.

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