My Enemy, the Grocery Cart.

I got my first job the summer between my junior and senior year of high school. Mostly because no one believed I would do it. I have a habit of being contrary like that.

So anyway, I entered the working world as a Bagger for the local Kroger store.

I thought it would be easy. I mean, come on, how tough can throwing groceries in a bag be? Turns out, it’s harder than you think.

Cleaning products can’t be put in the same bag as meat. Bread can’t be put underneath a bushel of potatoes. Eggs are bound to break no matter where you put them – and then you have to clean up the mess.

Some customers want bags packed so high it’s tough to lift them without having things topple out. Other (whiners) only want one item per bag. And as a bagger, you don’t know who’s who – until you’ve done it wrong.

But even that wasn’t the worst part of the job. Nope, the very worst thing was Cart Duty.

Did I mention that I was a pasty bookworm who hadn’t yet discovered exercise? Because I was. I had the muscle tone of a three-month-old baby. So pushing five tons of cart uphill five miles (barefoot, of course. And sometimes in snow) to the lobby was something of a challenge.

Especially since the other, more experienced baggers wouldn’t hesitate to grab 20 at a time.

In addition to being contrary, I am somewhat proud. And very stubborn (and obviously, an all around delightful human being). So I couldn’t risk them ridiculing  my wussy cart gathering skills. Nope, I had to show them I was just as good – no, better – than they were.

Did I mention I’m also good at procrastinating? Because I am.

To put off the inevitable moment that I had to get behind those aluminum beasts and push, I’d travel to the far ends of the parking lot picking up strays. If I thought I could get away with it, I’d even strike out for the other end of the strip mall (there were always a few runaways).

Then I’d pick the trash out of them, one by one, and walk it slowly to the farthest trash can.

Then and only then would I smack them together and haul them in.

My muscles would scream as I started out. My back would strain. My calves would tremble. But once I had them moving, it wasn’t too bad. Until some stupid customer darted out in front of me. Or some pimped out minivan refused to stop for me.

Then I’d have to come screeching to a halt and start all. over. again.

That’s when I started imagining I had the ability to make people explode.

By the time I reached the doors and yanked my long line of carts around to make it through the too-narrow opening (barely avoiding the anorexic Stepford wife who inevitably had to squeeze past me), I’d be sweaty, out of breath, and thoroughly crabby.

Which made my next task – bathroom cleaning – all the more nauseating.

Yeah. I hated that job. So much so that working at McDonald’s (my next gig), seemed like paradise in comparison.

What was your worst job?

Mama’s Losin’ It

19 Comments on My Enemy, the Grocery Cart.

  1. Meagan
    May 5, 2011 at 10:07 pm (5 years ago)

    My worst job was at a national lab. I was an intern, then a lab assistant, in the ceramics division. Some days I got to watch cement harden. Some days I got to watch it as it baked in a furnace. Some days I got to it it through the eroded- which is absolutely disgusting to clean out. Got to wear a snazzy breathing mask for those days because of the dust.

    On the plus side, some days the superconductor interns would let us play with the liquid nitrogen.

    • Amber
      May 6, 2011 at 8:32 am (5 years ago)

      Well you win for most interesting worst job. That sounds boring…but it makes for a good story!

  2. Rebecca
    May 5, 2011 at 10:11 pm (5 years ago)

    Worst job? When I was pregnant with Isabella and was working as a teacher assistant …the school had snakes. LOTS of snakes. My phobia.

    • Amber
      May 6, 2011 at 8:31 am (5 years ago)

      Barf. I would not want to spend 8 hours a day surrounded by snakes.

  3. Tameka Downing
    May 5, 2011 at 10:13 pm (5 years ago)

    Thank you for stopping by my blog. I’m sorry your first job was so horrible. While my first job was great, I had many others afterwards which were awful. The worst being a telemarketer in college; but they did teach us what we didn’t want to be when we got older.

    • Amber
      May 6, 2011 at 8:31 am (5 years ago)

      Shudder. I would never want to do the telemarketing thing. That seems like a soul crushing job if ever there was one!

  4. Amanda
    May 6, 2011 at 7:46 am (5 years ago)

    What some call stubborn others call “dedicated to excellence”. Good job! My worst job was the time I babysat for a pair of military dentists. The kids were great but the parents themselves, not so much.

    • Amber
      May 6, 2011 at 8:30 am (5 years ago)

      I like the way you think. I had some horrible babysitting families too – I feel your pain.

  5. Emily
    May 6, 2011 at 11:23 am (5 years ago)

    I always thought that being a cashier or working at a grocery store or department store like Target was a very difficult job and you have proved it!

    Some of my worst jobs were working at Macy’s during the Christmas season and being a waitress; my first “real” job when I was 16. I was sexually harassed a lot by other co-workers but who even knew what sexual harassment was when you are 16?

    • Amber
      May 9, 2011 at 11:49 am (5 years ago)

      Macy’s during CHristmas? You are brave. I did a toy store during Christmas. Not. Fun.

  6. Patrice P
    May 6, 2011 at 5:08 pm (5 years ago)

    Bagging groceries is a thankless job…but it’s a job!

    • Amber
      May 9, 2011 at 11:48 am (5 years ago)

      You got that right. Sometimes a paycheck is all that counts.

  7. Janet
    May 7, 2011 at 4:19 pm (5 years ago)

    Ugh, the bathroom cleaning! I left a job after two weeks because of that. I was a cashier, and they made us take turns cleaning the restroom. That was bad enough anyway, but when my supervisor decided to yell at me about HOW I cleaned the bathroom, I was done.

    • Amber
      May 9, 2011 at 11:47 am (5 years ago)

      Really? That takes a lot of nerve. The very thought of it still makes me gag.

  8. morgan
    May 9, 2011 at 10:53 am (5 years ago)

    I’ll never look at another cart wrangler the same :)

    • Amber
      May 9, 2011 at 11:46 am (5 years ago)

      Oh, they have it easier these days. Have you seen those motorized cart things they use at Target? They’re weaklings. :-)

  9. Paulette
    May 9, 2011 at 3:09 pm (5 years ago)

    YIKES! I don’t think I woulda attempted more than say 5 carts at a time but then again who knows. LOL!

    Visitin from Mama Kats

    • Amber
      May 9, 2011 at 7:51 pm (5 years ago)

      Thanks for the visit! I don’t think I would try anymore either. Ahhh to be a teenager again.

  10. MJ
    May 11, 2011 at 8:14 pm (5 years ago)

    Great story. I guess it is true… what does not make us stronger :)


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