in other states

other stores may look completely different, but a lot of them- the good ones- get totally excited when team members come in and say, “hi, I’m from this store in this state, and I wanted to stop in and see what your store looks like!” it still feels a little like home, and they want to know about our stores, too.

it’s cool, the way those “cousin stores” work. same vendors setting up for demos, same smiles on the team member faces, same announcements on the PA.

it gave me some new ideas to freshen up some of our current setups, and ideas to help push existing items in different ways.

this is what happens when you really love your job: you never stop working, and you’re actually proud to talk about it and immerse yourself in it!

yes- i am making way less money than this time last year. yes- my schedule changes every week (sometimes daily); I like to think of it as extreme flexibility. It keeps things interesting.

yes- i have a hard time not shopping at my store. it gets expensive, and we have really good, really neat stuff sometimes.

yes- it follows me, everywhere. but i am happy at my job- i like my people, customers and team members alike; i like my store.

it’s lately been portrayed negatively in social media. they goofed; it’s fair and expected for some people to be disappointed in them (team members included), but everyone makes bad decisions. it will blow over.

i’m sorry that it’s been so long; sometimes, life has a way of getting a little hectic and redirected for a while. i’ve missed you.

weights and measures

without giving away too much, there’s been a lot of noise in the media about a certain supermarket chain recently.

for our part, I am confident that my teammates are honest and reliable about what goes onto the scales; we can’t control what we’re allowed to charge for what comes off them.

most people seem to accept that higher quality food items mean paying higher prices.

does it ache to shell out $6 for a pint of dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, egg-free iced dessert? oh, hell yes.

was it the richest, creamiest, most delicious burnt sugar vanilla (i don’t even like burnt sugar vanilla) iced dessert i’ve ever eaten in my 32 years roaming this planet? you’d better fucking believe it.

would i shell out $6 for another pint of dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, egg-free iced dessert? oh, hell yes. in a heartbeat. because conventional markets don’t carry it, and the man in my life doesn’t process lactose without… well… side-effects.

i hear people complain about the prices in our store a lot. they have no qualms about doing so, loudly, right while we’re in the aisles working. that’s fine- i don’t set the prices, and i agree with you on quite a lot of it, but i can’t arbitrarily give you a discount, so i have to chuckle when i watch you put it in your basket anyway.

i guess what i mean to say is- and it’s quite cliché and i’m sorry- you pay for what you get, and if you don’t like it, go somewhere else. but i’ll say one thing: going pescetarian and largely dairy-free (with the exception of my morning yogurt- i will never give that up) has been the best dietary choice i’ve ever made, and it might cost me a little more, but damned if i don’t feel healthier.

we’ve got spirit, yes we do

Team Spirit is a big part of how we roll at my new store. People get warnings and stern reprimands if they’re continuously grouchy, show up with a perpetual negative or lackadaisical attitude, or don’t greet the customers with a friendly smile.

We all know it’s not always easy to check your negativity at the door when you’re having a rough day, even when you’re shift involves working with your favorite team leader, or team members, or when you see your favorite repeat customer (yep, already have those, and believe me, they definitely brighten a shift), or when a customer tells you that you’ve been extremely helpful. Sure, it might lift you for a moment, maybe even a half hour- but when something’s really weighing you down, you still feel it.

My favorite Assistant Store Team Leader left us a couple of weeks ago for a nearby, similarly-sized store, and my favorite Shift Leader is leaving for a new, bigger store, forty-five minutes away (my store is 12 minutes away- maybe 20 in traffic), in a few weeks. These leaders, these colleagues, made my bad days much better.

The ASTL was my dance partner- sometimes (all right, I’ll be honest, every time) David Bowie would play on our store radio, he would find me dancing down an aisle, and he’d laugh and say, “I really love to see you dancing,” and he would dance with me. “I love your spirit, you’re great!” he would say.

The Shifty always slaps me five, makes “that’s what she said” jokes, closes the store in a completely hilarious and totally unconventional manner that makes us all laugh so hard, we can hear each other from 100 feet away.

Sure, we’ll get new Team Leaders. We’ll adjust. It happens- we have to be happy for these promotions, they happen frequently within this company; it’s what we stand for, what we strive for. Without them, we’d all be stuck doing the same damn thing forever- and no one wants to do that all their lives.

There are a handful of people in my store with whom I truly enjoy working, but someday, they’ll be promoted- I’ll be promoted. If I stay (I’m still searching for a Big Girl Job).

Will I follow the ASTL who dances with me? He’s the Store Team Leader now, in a store that is approximately 20 minutes from where I live. Is adding a few miles, a few minutes, really worth it for his joyful personality? Do I still have his spirit? Will I follow the Shifty, and add forty miles, half an hour, for a store where I’d feel more comfortable? Is it worth it for the pay I’m getting; will it lead to a better opportunity for more training; should I deal where I am, and just find myself any old Big Girl Job that pays some kind of reasonable amount RIGHT NOW?

like the company philosophy. I like what we stand for. I like our general business model, how we maintain our role within the natural order of things. I’m not sure about the way my particular store has been managed so far, and I don’t know whether that will change.

it would figure

that as soon as i find something i DO want to eat, i run out of most of it.

luckily my roommate likes it too, and now we’re on a “…so if you opened a restaurant… what would you call this, and what else can Ashley make with veggie burgers?” kick

1 “365” brand Southwestern Style meatless veggie burger
Emmi block cheddar, sliced thick
WFM brand 8 Grain Seeded bread, 2 slices
1/4 avocado, sliced super thin
a couple spoonfuls of salsa

put a small pan on medium heat.

spray it with some nonstick spray.

nuke the burger for 30 seconds to defrost it.

toss the burger in the pan while you slice the cheez and the avocado. flip the burger.

make a cheez sammitch with JUST the cheez, and nuke that for 30 seconds. flip the burger.

open the sammitch, spread the avocado over the melty goodness. flip the burger.

spread the salsa over the melty cheez and avocado. put the burger on the sammitch.

leave the heat on, spray the pan again, and slap that sucker in it.

let it sit on there till the bread gets just a wee bit brown, flip it, then pull it out and eat the everliving daylights out of that beast.

first, if i had a restaurant, i’d skip the jar and use fresh-made mango salsa, which my ex does fantastically well, just the right amount of spicy-sweet with habanero and red onion- well, i won’t give away his recipe– or fresh pico or verde, for those who wanted a refreshing and less-spicy option.

second, i’d add lime, because duh.

third, i’d probably search for a slightly higher-quality meatless burger patty.

fourth, that cheddar is SLAMMIN, but i miiiiight go for a jack or a colby instead.

fifth, there’s a possibility that i’d season some ground turkey similarly, make a burger patty, and make that an option as well- which provides a completely different flavor complexity.

i would probably still leave it as a sandwich, because any burgers that aren’t beef tend to be a little soft or crumbly, and i think with the salsa, on a burger bun that wasn’t crispy, it might just be too… glorpy… to try and chew it, but i might make it a panini.

are you hungry yet?

(cross-posted from everdayblues)

I never knew

that I liked legumes and tree nuts until I worked in an organic market and went to the gym and/or worked out at least three days a week, and the trainer told me I should eat them and I realized they were a sustaining,  quick and easy source of protein.

Cashews, pecans, peanuts, almonds- bring them all to me, unsalted, and mixed with some dried cranberry, and- this is very important– white chocolate chips.

I hate white chocolate, except when it’s mixed with these elements. I hate nuts, too, unless they’re unsalted and combined with dried cranberries and white chocolate. You get two or three handfuls of that in ya, and you’re goin for three or four hours. Protein, sugar, and the right kind of fats, oils, and salt. Hoo-rah!

The best part is that at my store, it’s all easily available- I can either buy it pre-packed, or in bulk- and mix or match the stuff I wanna put together as I please. I have to make the shelf look pretty three or four times a day, so I think about it a lot- “what would I put in my trail mix if I made it myself?”

But I’m noticing, with the dried cranberry and white chocolate, I’m missing something: orange. Next time, I’ll have to remember to give it all a slight shake of orange extract before I bag it.

This mix:

whole cashews, unsalted, not measured / pecan halves and pieces, unsalted, not measured / whole salted almonds, not measured / dried sweetened cranberries, not measured / white chocolate chips, not measured – thrown in an 8oz drinking glass – shaken, not stirred

hummina hummina

Lots of people talk to themselves. My friend does it- hell, he’ll start giggling to himself for no apparent reason multiple times a day, and say something like, “you stupid!” When he was living here, I used to get a real kick out of hearing him giggling from down the hall.

I talk to myself all the time. Like every day. I give myself little reminders, tell myself DUH when I find myself in the utility room without the empty beer bottle from my room for the recycle bin.

People talk to themselves in the grocery store: “Oh, right, mayo.” “Can’t forget the eggs.”

It is hilarious to hear the conversations people have with themselves in this supermarket. “What the hell is ‘flaxseed meal’?” “hmm, peanut butterrrr, crunchy, organic, honey, ooh maple…” “Cage-free, Omega-3, DHA, free-range… aren’t there any ‘normal’ eggs..?”

Also, people are much less likely to be understanding if something they desire is not in stock, even though this store is the size of like, my left hand. “You mean you don’t have any more grass-fed low-fat free-range glass-bottled milk? I mean, that is ridiculous. This is the only milk you have? You don’t have milk anywhere else in this store?” If you want it cold, from a cow, no ma’am, that is it.

Or they want to talk your ear off if you’ve helped them find something before, and they’ve come back in for something else. There’s a guy who comes in with his toddler, and he wants to find all the low-sugar adult food available to give his kid- commendable, I’ll admit- but he’ll keep me going for 15 minutes and he’ll find me in every aisle I move to, to ask me more questions about the products- and because we can, I offer to let him sample everything, and he always declines- but he still asks 42 questions about everything. He’s nice, though, and he’s well-meaning, and his kid is cute and well-behaved, so I won’t fault him.

Or they’ll hand you their shopping list and want to know where every item is (if you’re good enough, you can grab it all in three minutes), and the whole time you’re doing their shopping, they keep saying they can never find anything in there. Easy way to fix that: shop for yourself. This afternoon I got, “I need to find… coconut milk! (easy enough, here we go) Great! and now… arrowroot powder? (that one’s tricky, but I know where it is) Wow! okay, and agave? (light or dark, large or small, bam, there you go) That would have taken me an hour to find all this stuff!” total time: 60 seconds.

Hope my boss was watching all that, making mental notes and talking to himself about how well I know the aisles… cuz I am that. good.

And yes, I talk to myself at work all the time. Listen closely and you’ll hear it.

comparison – set two

Music – getting better. I’m actually downloading stuff I hear on the satellite at my new store.  Plus: Cake, David Bowie, and Better Than Ezra? Heck to the yes.

Workload – I’m so not a fan of tiny detail stuff, I really prefer the heavy lifting work. My hands don’t work for tiny stuff. I can’t even button my flannels without a struggle- and that’s not an exaggeration.

Customers – The great part about a teeny tiny store is that you learn the aisles pretty quick, so when someone asks where something is, it doesn’t take long to show them. In some cases, down to the position on the aisle: “middle of the aisle, left hand side, bottom shelf.”

Product – I’m definitely eating healthier (when I’m not sick and ordering Domino’s, and then forgetting I did it) because of the stuff we offer.

There are a lot of changes in going from an enormous store to a teeny tiny one, and a learning process to evolve with, but damn, that music…

the very best part

about working in my new store

is all the free food.

Some vendors were in yesterday and said they needed to talk to one of us about something. The buyer asked me if I could handle it, and it turned out that it was an issue with one of the products, so I took down the information, and then they handed me a coupon for a free pint of ice cream- and then there were the free English muffins on the way out the door today.

And the continuous supply of fruit and snacks in the break room, the product samples on the floor that we’re actually encouraged to try in order to recommend them to customers, and the fact that we can try anything at any time, as long as we ask.

The morning shift is way better than the afternoon or night shift, because there’s more to do than just make sure everything is faced front. I’d rather spend my 8 hours hauling boxes and stuffing things on the shelves than cramming my hands into tiny spaces to make it look nice.

But it’s still really freakin’ busy in there, because we’re new, and people are continuously saying, “oh, this is such a nice store,” “we waited so long for this,” “where is this,” “where is that,” “do you have-?” Team Leadership expects it to cool down in another couple weeks, and hopefully it will be an easier situation.

comparison set one

New store- Pros: Better food to buy, and taste! Better employee benefits. Dedicated and knowledgeable team members. More team members on staff.

New store- Cons: .7mi walk to my car. Freezing cold store. Almost no heavy lifting. Less running around. Shoebox store gets very crowded, very quickly.

Old store- Pros: Better music. Bigger backroom. More opportunity movement. More heavy lifting- exercise! Large store is slightly less prone to crowding.

Old store- Cons: Hardly any taste testing. Unionized and pbbbttthh benefits. More than a handful of lackadaisical employees.

I keep hearing, “Wait till the holidays” from all my teammates. With our fancy-pants sections, I’m betting ALL the holidays’ll be pretty crowded. They keep coming up with crazy ideas back there in the bakery and at the meat counter.

But it’s still crazy bananas in there, because we just opened yesterday, and I tried to get some shopping done today (my fridge was hungry again), and it was easier to walk in there yesterday than it was today, but it was still pretty nuts. Small store, lots of people… eeeesh. I spent 90% of my day yesterday saying “hello” and making sure things were pulled to the front of the shelf. I’m betting it will be like that for a week or two.

y’all ready for this?

So, big store opening day tomorrow, woo! My teammate, who transferred from another store, is staying with me for a while until she can find an apartment, and we both stopped in at the store today to take a sneak peek before opening day. It looks amazing!

I decided to get myself a folding bicycle to help beat the .7 mile distance from the parking lot to the store, I figured maybe it would cut down on at least some of my commute time. It’s TARDIS blue, too! Citizen Bike has some really nice-looking collapsible bikes, and they got great reviews on Amazon- the best of all the bikes I looked at under $200. If it doesn’t work for me, I’ll sell it, but I can probably use it for other things in the area, I suppose.

But anyway- the store looks really great, opening week- next week- it’s going to be amazing. And busy, so get ready for a ton of funny stories…