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?