When I was 14 I worked at a supermarket packing groceries.
I was a youth worker on $4.25 an hour (before tax) and made 60 something dollars a week working 4pm until 8pm after school.
I was rich.
No I’m serious I thought I was. When you’re a kid living at home with no rent, utilities, car bills or— well any overhead at all- you can actually have quite a good time with 60 bucks and it came in every week. It was pretty great.
The next peg up the promotional ladder was Checkout Operator but the owner thought I was too dumb and promoted everyone around me and I stayed as a Packer. I know he thought I was too dumb because he said it to my face ‘I think you’ll struggle with the operator training. It’s for the best really.’ So with the door fully closed on my future as a supermarket checkout operator, I was given the most mindless and simple part of the store to take responsibility over- the toilet roll and tissue paper aisle. When the checkouts weren’t busy the idea was the you go and tend to your little plot in the store. I loved it.
Toilet rolls arrive in the storeroom in massive cardboard boxes. Next time you are at the supermarket ask them if you can go out the back and play in the toilet paper and paper towel deliveries. They won’t let you, but it’s a great time like giant soft Lego. Because I was labelled as a bit thick, it was the best place for me because you can’t break anything and you just build huge forts of paper towels and 36 roll Sorbent toilet paper outers. Then you make little lists of what’s missing out on the shop floor and load up a stock trolley from your toilet paper fort.
There are different sizes and colours of tissue boxes, Christmas editions, promotional ticketing and bonus ‘buy 6 get 2 free’ offers. People would ask me for my expert advice on toilet rolls and would tell them what the best deal was that week and show them the new tissue ranges with Penguins on them. Crushed corners on tissue boxes are the worst and you get that when the giant boxes are thrown on to the floor of the storeroom from up in the pallet racking (there’s a pro tip for you next time you buy tissues). I would always retrieve my own tissue outers because there were no crushed corners in my magnificent display.
Most supermarkets don’t have Packers now and the Checkout Operators have turned into self-serve robot kiosks so I finally get to scan the barcodes myself which was the most coveted part of being an Operator and not a Packer. Sometimes, you’re better off to just roll with the changes on the shop floor, enjoy building paper towel forts and not wait for someone to anoint you as Checkout Operator because there’s probably something better out there for you and you never know-you might still get to have a go with the scanner.