By a quirk of assignment, the floral department has two managers, Amanda and Maggie. They’ve been working in Kroger stores since they were in high school. Amanda is 27, married with two angelic daughters. Maggie is 23, single, full of energy and clearly a glittering management prospect. On my first day of work, she said, “I knew you were from Portland when I saw your backpack,” so not much gets past her.
She and Amanda fit a personality type that self-selects for grocery work, garrulous, friendly – and unsinkable, to deal with the people still enraged that the store was renovated last year. There’s petite Helen of Cheese, and the Men of Meat and Seafood. There’s Deli Nick, Bagger Nick with early-Bieber hair and Produce Nicolas who looks like Che Guevara and brings in cookies his girlfriend made.
But Maggie is queen of Kroger. Everyone stops by the floral department to see her, from the store manager to the custodian. At least a dozen customers will only do business with her. She will listen to a blue hair chatter away for 15 minutes, then she will schmooze a visiting regional executive. From the checkout stand, Big Bill, 6-foot-5, who’s worked for Kroger since he was 15, comes to swap gossip with Maggie.
Amanda and Maggie knew that one of them would get reassigned. Last week the opening arrived, at the monster store on Montgomery Road with the biggest floral department in three counties. Maggie took the job, since it’s another 25 cents an hour. But when word got out that she was leaving, the woodland creatures mourned: How will we get along without our queen?
On Maggie's last day, the pastry chef and the king of the salad bar and the kid in dairy with the “diamond” earrings came to say good-bye. The store manager presented a bottle of wine, said call anytime. Maggie faced the love fest bravely, big smiles, saying, yeah, I’m sorry to leave, but it’s a good move. Then Big Bill walked behind the desk and wordlessly hugged her. When he left, Maggie ran into the storeroom and burst into tears.
Causes Anne Saker Supports
Freedom of thought.