Came the word from on high, a manager with a telecom link to the PA: “Perishables delivery on the back dock.” The Truck has arrived. To cool my panic, I take a slug of a canned Arnold Palmer, which is remarkably not bad. Fifteen minutes later, Produce Nicolas steers a pallet jack bearing four feet by four feet by seven feet of 30 boxes shrink-wrapped into a tidy stack.
As a soft-handed white collar, I daily whined about how hard I typed. But these months in retail grocery command a whole new level of ibuprophin. The government counts consumer spending as three-fourths of the economy. It’s amazing that this country hasn’t had an armed insurrection considering the physical labor demanded of service-sector workers for a ridiculous fraction of what the effort produces.
In the floral department, with about 1,500 square feet of space, about 150 buckets need a weekly wash and a fresh draft of water. Potted plants need watering almost every day. Then three nights a week, The Truck arrives – sometimes not till 7:45 p.m., and the night shift ends at 9. No matter. The mandate is get it off the floor. Fill a bucket and put the lilies out for customers, or store them in the cooler. Just move it.
When Produce Nicolas drops the pallet, I cut the wrap and start from the top, the long boxes of carnations, daisies, alstroemeria and other dry-packed flowers. At the bottom stand vertical boxes, each with a dozen bunches of a dozen roses shipped in buckets of water and bagged in plastic, so bucket and flowers can be pulled from the box. Remove the plastic and tote the bucket of roses to a shelf in the cooler – 10 or 15 times.
Customers don’t notice the chaos. As I worked, a sweet young woman wearing a Mason High School hoodie stood at the bouquet case for 15 minutes, trying to decide. She is a freshman. She is a gymnast. Due to a training accident, she is recovering, at 15, from Tommy John surgery. Her career may be over. Mom gave her $20 for flowers. Just then, Produce Nicolas appeared again, pushing another pallet of product.
Causes Anne Saker Supports
Freedom of thought.