I just started my first very-own, grown-up job! It’s not work-study, or for a family member, or even fast food! And I’m not even making minimum wage, because I’m now a bank teller! Well, sort-of. I’m officially a Sales Associate. . . at a grocery store branch. . . and I can’t handle money yet. But I’m thrilled with the position. It’s like living some kind of bizarre reality TV show. Or maybe not reality, maybe it was just The Office. Either way, something about the way my coworkers describe the Ins and Outs of the job–and each other–makes me feel like I ought to have a film crew with me (not that they’d fit behind the counter).
My first day was like being stuck in an elevator with two strangers for 8 hours, only with better people-watching. Something about the confined space seemed to invite intimate details of my coworkers’ lives into conversation as they flipped through stacks of 5s, 10s, 20s. Don ran the counterfeit pen across a stack of fanned fifties as he told me and a customer that in high school he’d held out on shaving his legs until he tied another swimmer for first by some thousandths of a second, and figured the small difference made by streamlined calves would be relatively large. (He won the rematch.) Brad, who cites the health of his three-year-old daughter as the only thing that would lead him to rob the bank, recounted how he’d started working full-time at 13 when his father got crushed in the coal mine.
Today, I met the other girl, Jessica, who I’d been nervous about meeting, because friendships with guys are sometimes much easier for me to manage. There’s a little more grace for things like forgotten phone calls, less need to mince words. Right after I read in the manual that office supplies are not to be used for personal gain, she tells me how she sends her Mary Kay catalogues to the main branch through interoffice mail. She freaked out when the branch manager, Cheryl (who sometimes writes her name as Sherry) sent someone else to pick-up her make-up order and forgot to send the catalog for the purses she sells in a similar scheme. They finally came out with the bag she likes in a medium size and she can’t wait order it.
Jessica flirts over the counter with the guy shelving the new shipment of fruit, pouting when he doesn’t stop to say hello. She and Brad keep up a constant, affectionate banter, “Hey Dipstick, you gonna count that customer-coin?” They each tell me how he was the one to stick up for her last year when rumors were flying about her and various other Kroger employees (only one of whom she’s actually talking to, and it’s Matthew from the meat department, not Troy with his hands full of peaches) and Brad tells me, too, that he takes care of his own, citing the way he used to start the cars of the dancers at one of the clubs he bounced as prior evidence.
As we warm up to each other, Jessica tells me she was worried too, when she heard about the new girl. She didn’t want someone who was obsessed with shopping, she says. I say, “Yeah, I was worried you would be one of those girls who was like ‘Oh my gosh! They have the purse in medium!'”
We both grin.