It’s Supermarket Employees Day

I often see Lucas stocking the refrigerated produce display cases at my neighborhood Hy-Vee Supermarket. He’s a cheery 40-something guy who was hired by the supermarket last summer. I first met Lucas when he worked part-time at the Goodwill Store. His thrift store gig was a stopgap job between his work as a roofing company employee. Lucas had suffered two bouts of sunstroke as a result of installing shingles in summertime heat. (Roofs are extremely hot in the summer.)

Lucas embodies the supermarket chain’s slogan “Where there’s a helpful smile, in every aisle”. He’s thankful that his new job as a full-time employee helps him provide a steady income for his family. Lucas knows that I used to be a produce manager during my college days so we have traded “war stories” about the craziness of grocery store culture. Lucas says he’s still amazed at how many “Karens” he encounters each day. I used to get harrassed by them too, back before they were called “Karens”.

Meanwhile, two other Hy-Vee employees have become closer acquaintances and like to engage in brief small-talk whenever they see me in the store. Ethyl works in the dairy department, she’s usually stocking cottage cheese and yogurt when we chat for awhile. Ethyl will be retiring later this year. She looks forward to resting her weary knees and feet.

Then there’s Clark. He was promoted recently from being a cashier to taking over as frozen foods manager. He enjoys camping in any of the Nebraska State Parks with his wife on his days off duty. Clark has an outgoing personality that jibes well with managing the other frozen foods department employees. Clark has also traded “war stories” about the retail grocery business because he knows that in addition to my past as a produce manager, I was also a frozen foods manager. Aside from a few technological advancements, little has changed about managing retail frozen foods.

Jerry, one of my casual friends, has worked as a stocking clerk, cashier, and shopping cart organizer for at least two decades. Jerry usually shares a joke or anecdote with me whenever he notices me. He will probably retire from his job in the next year or two.

Then there’s the cashier, Elena. Back in the day, I often ended up at her check-out lane. Now that the store has converted to self-checkouts, Elena spends most of her shift supervising customers at the machines. Whenever Elena is on duty, she usually greets me by name and spends a minute sharing small-talk.

These are some of the folks I salute today on National Supermarket Employees Day. As a former supermarket employee, I know that supermarkets are not always super for the workers. Just know that when a customer requests a particular item that is missing from the display shelf, the clerk will eventually find the box of them–stacked at the bottom of a 20-foot tall stack of other merchandise. By the time he is able to get to the item and bring it to the aisle, the customer has decided she doesn’t want it after all.

If the reader works in the retail grocery business, please know that most of your customers appreciate what you do. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back. Hopefully your supervisor will also acknowledge you today, too.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes my friend Jerry. “The gossip mill regarding interdepartmental relationships never disappoints.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in cultural highlights, Friendship, Hometown, Meanderings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to It’s Supermarket Employees Day

  1. Love your post. Very heartwarming 🙂

  2. bronlima says:

    The beauty of seeing and interacting with people. Often we stumble blindly through our day to day routines, never troubling to take off our blinkers. A salute to the workers, and for those who (unlike Karens) can enrich their own lives simply by appreciating and valuing others,

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