When I started working at a grocery store two years ago, I think it’s fair to say I didn’t know what I was getting into. I started as a cashier and eventually became a personal grocery shopper. The gig is fairly simple. Customers send their grocery orders in through our online system, I shop the order and call with questions, the customer picks up their order at a designated time. Not bad, right?
You’d be right; It’s really not bad. It’s by far the best job I’ve had, but there are certain things that I never realized I would need to know. I think some of these are fairly applicable to any type of retail work, but here are seven things I’ve learned as a personal shopper:
- How To Pass Time
This was most prevalent when I was a cashier, but stil,l too often I experience long stretches of time at work with nothing to do. While this can be relaxing for the first ten minutes, I absolutely hate doing nothing, especially on nights when I knew I could be knocking out some homework. To combat the inevitable drag of work, I’ve learned how to (attempt to) pass the time. Sometimes I try to run through movie or show plots in my head. Other times I will literally organize and reorganize anything around me, be it candy bars or paper clips. I won’t allow myself to check the time for long period of time because I know I’ll be disappointed with how slow it moves. At this point, I’ve gotten pretty good at entertaining myself.
- How To Be Passive Aggressive
Everyone who works in customer service has horror stories. Unfortunately, physically fighting or verbally attacking customers often results in job loss. So, how do you handle customers who are hellbent on acting like Satan himself? The art of being passive aggressive! The best part is, no one can actually accuse you of anything because you can say that they wrongly interpreted you.
- How To Stifle Emotions 24/7
Being at work usually already makes me want to cry, but every once in a while, orders can get incredibly stressful. Sometimes there will be five orders scheduled for pick up at 12 p.m., and by 11:30 only one of them is shopped. Translation: you’re screwed. Some customers are super understanding of these kinds of things. Others couldn’t care less about how you feel. The latter is often the reason for stifling tears, but it’s for sure a necessary and valuable skill in customer service.
- How To Apologize For LITERALLY Anything
The lines are too long? I’m so sorry. The bathroom smells weird? I’m sorry about that. Our bananas are too ripe? I’m really sorry. We don’t carry your very specific organic brand? I’m sorry. I can’t break rules and regulations that would cause me to lose my job just for you to be mildly less inconvenienced? Sorry!
- How To Open Every Single Type Of Car Trunk. Every. Single. One.
This is probably the most obscure one, but part of the job is loading groceries into the customer’s car. I like to think I have a decent amount of common sense, but I can’t tell you how many times I stood just staring at the car because I couldn’t figure out how to open the trunk. Electronic button? Do I need a key? Literally no handle to be seen?
- How To Guess The Weight Of Produce
When customers order produce, they often do so in weights. For example, someone could want 3 lbs of grapes. It’s such a pain to have to measure produce weights while in the department when the scales are all so far apart. So instead, I’ve gotten creepy good at holding a tomato or an onion and knowing that it weighs 1.24 lbs.
- How To Bag Groceries Efficiently
There is definitely a correct and incorrect way to bag groceries. Starting with the basics, everyone knows not to put heavy items on top of eggs or bread. But I’ve seen so many people bag things together that are just wrong. Frozen peas, laundry detergent, and bread. Raw meat, crackers, and soap. Like items should go together! You shouldn’t put anything super smelly (air fresheners, dryer sheets) with things like produce. Frozen items shouldn’t go with cereal boxes because it’ll get the cardboard all wet. It’s a learning process, but I will die on this hill.