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The Care and Keeping of Produce Clerks

February 4, 2012

You might not think that the life of a produce clerk is particularly hard, and you’d be right. Compared to such jobs as, say, firefighter or gourmet chef or test subject at Aperture Science, produce clerk is a fairly simple and low-stress position. Still, there are a few things that customers do that start to get on our nerves after a while, and while we notice them right away, you might not even realize that you’re being a pain, so below you’ll find my list of three ways that you can make life a little better for us produce clerks next time you’re out shopping for apples, carrots, and celery stalks.

1. Keep moving. I don’t know what it is about the produce section, but while everyone in the rest of the store seems to set their mind on what they want to buy and head straight for it, produce shoppers do a whole lot of painfully slow and aimless wandering. Sometimes they aren’t even looking at the shelves, they’re just staring forward and walking at the pace of an injured tortoise while the produce clerk stuck behind them is trying to get to the banana rack to refill it. Don’t be that guy. Glance around every once in a while to take stock of your surroundings so you don’t cause any traffic jams.

2. Be sure that you don’t know where it is. The most common question people ask me as a produce clerk is, “Where can I find _____?” Which is excellent, because a huge part of my job is to help people find the products that they want to buy, and I love doing it. I know the department inside and out and I can guide you to anything you need. The trouble is, many times the product in question is two feet away from where I am standing when you approach me to ask where it is, sitting on a shelf at eye level and clearly labeled, and all I can think is that if you really needed help finding that, you should see an eye doctor. So if you’re really not sure where to find the watercress, please do not hesitate to ask me, but glance around the general vicinity first to make sure you didn’t just roll on past it, please.

3. Don’t ask me for help when I’m on my lunch. Oh please, please, please, in the name of all that is good in this world, don’t do that to me. Believe me, I go to all of the effort that I possibly can to disguise the fact that I work here when I go on lunch. I un-tuck my shirt, I put on a jacket, I take off my name tag, and yet somehow people still manage to figure out that I am a store employee and they ask me to help them find things. I’ve seen customers stop an employee all bundled up and on his way to go home and ask for help. The worst part is, I am never, ever in my department when I am on lunch, so I have absolutely no idea where that thing you’re looking for is, either, but I’m not allowed to refuse to assist you, so I just deer-in-the-headlights for a second, sigh, and waste five minutes out of my half hour of down time trying to find somebody who can actually help you. So if you see a guy wearing what looks like the employee uniform but with a coat and no name tag wandering past the hardware aisle, please don’t ask him where you can get a fan for your woodstove that turns when the heat rises up the pipe. Just smile, nod, and look for someone with a name tag on, and know that you’ve done a true act of kindness.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 5, 2012 12:04 am

    I am #2. I don’t just do #2, but I’m the living embodiment of it. But then Tim and anybody else who knows me as more than an acquaintance is already aware of that. I’m sorry.

  2. Tim's Dad permalink
    February 6, 2012 10:36 am

    Are produce clerks a protected species? Are they domesticated? Do you need a license to care for them? Just wondering… 😉

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