The store was super-slow today. Yesterday the weather forecast was for lots of snow overnight, so the store was a madhouse yesterday with people stocking up on the necessities: milk, bread, chocolate, wine sushi ($5 on Wednesday!). There actually was lots of snow overnight and today everybody stayed home. A couple of our cashiers were similarly snowed in, but even shorthanded we had lots of time on our hands. So we used that time:
Sparring with each other over produce codes. Actually there was no real competition – just fooling around. These kids totally blow me away with the nimbleness of their brains. I hold on like it was the holy Bible to a laminated list of produce codes which I tape to every cash register where I work. Occasionally I will leave it taped to the cash register I have just left. When I discover that it’s missing, I will sheepishly go over to Jessica, for example – who at that point has been doing the work for all of a month. “Hey, do you want that produce cheat sheet?” “Nah, i don’t need it.” And she doesn’t – they’re amazing.
So today I am for some reason saying some of this to the middle-aged lady I am checking out. I shout across the way to Regina. “Hey Regina, what’s the code for Romanesco cauliflower?”
Romanesco cauliflower (or romanesco broccoli) -wild and wonderful, a cross between broccoli and caulifower. Everybody says it’s quite tasty. i was gonna get some after work today, but then had to run out fast. Hopefully there will be some there tomorrow.
We’ve been selling it for just a couple of weeks and you get less than one bunch a day. I’ve got the code just to my right on another list that has been taped to our counter, but want to show Regina off to my customer. “94630.” “See – she’s amazing.”
Regina said today that even she doesn’t know how or why she learns the produce codes so fast. It can be an item you sell once every couple of weeks, and she doesn’t hesitate to spit out the code. She’s awesome – and a very cool person who adores children and babies and is great to work with.
But I had to find a way to pull her chain.
“Ha – organic bananas.”
“No way. Organic bananas are 94011 – it’s like the first code we learn.”
“yeah, 94237 is organic bananas too. They’ve been coming across the last couple of weeks, just some of them. Maybe they’re from a different distributor or something.”
That was fun.
The other way I amused myself today was bantering with Rowdy about his PA announcements. Rowdy is a very cool, funny, creative guy with a huge heart. All the staff and customers love him. I’m almost the only person who isn’t entertained by his sense of humor in these announcements and I think I have genuinely hurt his feelings. Today i tried to inject enough playfulness into our back and forth to maybe detoxify the exchange.
Rowdy is really tall and big in all kinds of ways. He makes a very strong impression and mostly a very good one. He’s good for the store.
Rowdy, in a totally over-the-top southern drawl (he’s not southern), “Attention Earth Fare shoppers, produce you have a call on line 2. Could the fine people in produce please pick up line 2.”
“Oh now you’re turning us into a totally hick store.”
“This is Appalachia – I’m talking Appalachian.”
“You’re talking like a redneck – they’ll never take us seriously.”
“I’m just having fun.”
“You sound unprofessional.”
Here I am criticizing a young guy who is committed to creativity and i’m taking a stand for professionalism. I can’t believe my own ears, but his announcements really do bother me, if almost nobody else.
Rowdy makes another countrified announcements and I ask the customers in front of me, “Now what did you think of that?” “I think it’s funny.” “Yeah, most people do.”
But not everybody, at least not all the time. One day Rowdy made one of his classic low, slow, breathy, stage whisper announcements. Lou Anne yelled, “Rowdy, that’s creepy.” “That’s two of us for creepy.”
I can get away with teasing Rowdy because he knows I like and admire him. And today it was so darn slow, we needed the distraction.