The following includes some notes of survival for a person who is working in the fruit and vegetable department of their local supermarket. For your convenience, the phrase 'fruit and vegetables' will be referred to as 'produce'.
The tools of a produce worker are as follows:
A small knife for cutting lettuce, boxes and plastic
A large knife for cutting pumpkins, cabbages, cauliflower, melons, celery and suchlike
A pen for writing
A marker for writing labels on boxes and things
There are also trolleys to be used for moving boxes and goods; ladders with wheels on them for reaching high up items; plastic bags for the storage of rubbish; big green bins for the storage of produce waste; and a huge metal compactor, to crush cardboard and paper rubbish. Finally there are communicative devices such as telephones and a page-speaker, to make announcements to the shop, or, after closing time, to make amusing farting noises.
Dealing with Customers
Customers will always be coming up to you, and asking tremendously obvious questions. When you are confronted with a customer, Rule numbers One and Two should be followed:
Always be polite to the customer. This rule may be disregarded in any case that the produce worker considers to be extreme.
Do or say whatever the customer wants. The produce worker may decide that what the customer really wants is at his/her own discretion, unless it conflicts with any other rules, or obviously if it may result in the produce worker getting fired.
Rule numbers one and two of this section, though simple, can be quite difficult to follow when applied in their strictest sense. Some much bolder produce workers have tried to insert their own third rule in here at this point, which goes something like this:
Do whatever you can to avoid the customers. This rule applies at all times, and may even involve taking obscenely long coffee breaks, especially at the most busiest times of day.
This third rule has gained recognition among many produce workers in recent times but, due to its controversial nature, it will be neither promoted or discouraged in this document.
Now we have come to the fore of what this occupation is all about. Coffee breaks are the most essential activity carried out by a produce worker - they are the life-blood if you will - of the entire day's work. There are many aspects of the conventional 'coffee break' in its many forms. There are too many to list them all here, but some classics include: the cuppa-coffee, the cuppa-tea, the toilet stop, the quick skim through the newspaper, the sit-down, the lunch break and - always a favourite - the spontaneous break for no apparent reason.
Activities which are carried out during a typical coffee break can range from eating, sipping coffee or tea (or just straight milk when it be the mood), cutting out funny comics from the staff newspaper, chatting to attractive staff-members, or just plain staring at the wall, or, if you're desperate, reading the staff notice-board. The only rule that applies to the coffee break, is simply this:
When on a coffee break, never make it look like you are enjoying it.
There is an incredible and constant amount of waste continually being created and churned by the store. There are two types of waste that the produce worker is responsible for. They are: rotten waste and fresh waste.
Rotten waste is quite self-explanatory, as all produce has a shelf-life-expectancy.
Fresh waste is more elusive to explain, but simply put, it is food that gets thrown out at the end of the night because it has not been sold. These fruits and vegetables are: bananas, lettuce, carrots, grapes, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, cherries, potatoes and celery.
The only reasons which may explain this systematic disposal of goods, regardless of their quality, is human mismanagement and greed.
Each night, the shop throws out what appears to be enough fresh fruit and vegetables to feed five families of five for an entire week.
The typical shop that the produce worker encounters in most cases will have one of the most trustworthy and reliable systems of paying their staff. Each staff-member receives a weekly pay-cheque, the amount on which bears absolutely no correspondence to the amount of hours he/she has worked, or the rate that he/she is being paid at. Each person who works in the store can completely rely and trust that, no matter how hard he/she does or does not work, at the end of the week, the amount he/she gets paid is often incorrect.
Like most jobs, putting off what you can do today for tomorrow, is pivotal in the produce department. Most of us would never get by without it, but, at the end of the day, it is good to reflect for just a moment, the reason why we do what we do. It's not for pleasure, or for contentment, it's not even for the actual money. The fact is that we come in to work knowing that we can sit around, bludging1 all day long and get paid for it.
Just that thought alone makes it all worth it.
The Basic Rules of Working in Produce
If you wouldn't buy the product, don't put it on display for the customer. The term 'wouldn't' is used here very loosely, and does not exclude external circumstances such as being desperate or poor.
Try to keep the shop full and clean. The word 'clean' is used here only as an abstract concept, and is in no way obliged to have any relationship with how messy the shop actually is.
Always wash your hands. At least once a day, or at least think about it once a day.
Eat whatever you want. This rule applies only if and when the worker is alone, hidden or unattended. It does not apply when the worker can be seen by cameras, people (especially the manager), when fasting or dieting.
If these four simple rules are followed and applied, then it will serve to create a happy working environment in which the produce worker theoretically does not get fired.