Friday, March 22, 2013

Night and Day

Two or three times a year, for the last twelve years, I've had to contend with a grocery inventory.
This is nothing to what the fresh departments deal with: for reasons unknown, deli, bakery, and produce count their stock monthly. What's more, they have to count all their stock, sales floor and backshop included.
Thank goodness we don't have to count the product on the sales floor. A team of inventory specialists comes in to do that, and the speed at which they work is astonishing. It's usually between six and eight people, and it takes them less than four hours to count everything. I have no idea how this is done. Magic, I assume.
The back room stock--which for me means the dairy cooler and the freezer--is the extent of our responsibility. It's responsibility enough, and it seems to get worse, rather than better, with every inventory.
At my old store, it was a relatively simple matter: many times I'd done it in eight hours, cooler and freezer both. Of course, there I simply had to count the stock, not work all of it. Even so, as the store got busier through the years, I eventually found myself taking two shifts to count it all.

This inventory it took four. Four night shifts.

That's because in this store, the scope of my responsibility has increased. It's not just the dairy cooler and freezer any more: it's the rest of the grocery department as well. And in a store as small as this one, wherein often the shelf won't hold a full case of whatever....there's a lot of backstock. And of course it's expected that every case gets worked.

We got done in the nick of time--I was still tallying up milk and eggs when the inventory folks came through the door. Now I'm trying to revert back to my normal schedule, and it's not going well.

I've said before that I am not a night person. University residence forced night shifts upon me. There was simply no possible way to sleep on the west wing of the second floor of MacDonald House. I had arranged most of my classes in that first year for early morning. I can't say I was na├»ve; no, I was completely oblivious. It quickly was made clear to me, however, that my 8:30 classes were my problem: the truly sensible drunken partiers, i.e., everyone else, had scheduled their classes for afternoons and evenings. Dawn was not a time to get up. Dawn was a time to think about going to bed.

Laying awake listening to the projectile vomiting contests and lacrosse games outside my door, I figured I deserved to be paid for this. What's more, I honestly believe I would have eventually assaulted somebody if I didn't remove myself from the din. And so I started working graveyards at McDonald's.

Those were fairly enjoyable. I had my music--this was long before the iPod, and I didn't own a Walkman, but I did have a ghetto blaster to drag from place to place. The store was closed--this was also long before Mickey Dees realized just how many drunken partiers there were in my town who could really go for a Big Mac at three in the morning. My job was to clean.

My job has always been, at least in part, to clean. It's probably why I'm charitably described as a slob at home. Let's be real here: I'm a guy. That means, as Dave Barry says, I can't see dirt until it can sustain commercial agriculture. Cleaning stuff is annoying to me, because I can spend forever polishing something to a high gloss....and if I miss one speck of dirt, I've wasted that forever. So I don't bother, at home at least, until a critical mass is reached and I go into a cleaning frenzy.

Anyway, circumstances forced a fateful career change on me: I went down the street a block to 7-Eleven....and the rest is bitter, bitter history.
It was five years, give or take, to get to the point where I just couldn't take another person hurling abuse at me because I carded her for smokes, or hurling a can of soup at me because why the fuck not. I went from convenience to discount grocery, and am now in a full service grocery store. Night shifts, thankfully, are at a minimum.

There are advantages to working nights, don't get me wrong. On night shift, the uniform is not required, which means I don't have to wrestle with the top button on a dress shirt for an embarrassingly long period of time and I can wear comfortable clothes. Once the store is closed, an hour into the shift, the iPod can come out and impart energy. At that point there are no customers and no boss and I can simply do my job and go home when it's done.

But it means sleeping during the day.

Even back at 7-Eleven, that was a near impossibility for me. For those five years I don't think I ever got fully to sleep or came fully awake. Sleeping pills help, but even so fortified, I'm apt to wake up in three or four hours. And I don't mean to whine (he whined), but waaaaaaaaah!  I need my sleep!

Today is Friday...the first full day off I've had in very nearly two weeks. I worked a day shift yesterday after having worked a night shift Tuesday into Wednesday. Because I slept pretty well Wednesday night, I thought I had successfully flipped my schedule.

No such luck. I've been awake most of the night. Should have taken more sleeping pills, but to be honest I'm more than a little worried about developing a dependancy on them. There will be a nap today...but you'll excuse me if I don't count sheep.

We don't stock sheep.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've always been more of a night owl than a morning person, so late night shifts come easier to me than early morning ones. But geez, as I get older all of them suck now. My body has finally (after almost 20 years) scheduled itself to wake up at 7am. Great for not needing an alarm clock, sucks when you go to bed finally at 4am.

My body is betraying me by losing abilities I used to have and not giving me anything in return. Grrrrrr.....