I began employment at Safeway as a courtesy clerk on December 11, 2015. The majority of my job was retrieving carts, bagging, taking out the trash, cleaning, and whatever else I was asked to do. Courtesy clerk is the bottom rung at Safeway, so I took orders from EVERYBODY.

The first thing I learned is my own working capabilities—and, in turn, the lack thereof of my coworkers. Among my family, I am considered lazy and unwilling to help, but at work, I turned into some sort of machine, and I guess I fairly quickly established myself as a hardworking asset to the company. The sad part is, though, it didn’t take all that much effort. My family is known for being hard workers, so I guess it’s in my blood, but seriously? This was a minimum wage job, not some top-of-the-line ordeal.

My final day was December 11, 2016, a year to the day from when I started. I planned it this way because when I first started working at Safeway, I promised myself that it was temporary and I wouldn’t be there for more than a year. So I put in my two weeks exactly a fortnight before December 11, and now I sit before you as a free homosapien.

 

PRIORITIZING

When it’s your job to take care of the little details, make sure everything runs smoothly for the whole store, and ensure customer safety and satisfaction, you pick up pretty quickly what tasks are the most important to get done first. Prioritizing the many tasks that I had on my shoulders got to be really easy near the end of my employment, and my experience in that area made me much more efficient than the other courtesy clerks, so you can guess that I recognize the importance of good prioritizing skills now.

At Safeway, my top priority was looking after the customer—if asked to do a price check, fetch an item for someone, or do a carryout, I dropped everything to carry out that task. My second priority was store efficiency: fetching carts and baskets, fixing the recycling machines, and doing the hourly sweep logs that ensured that the store was clean. Bagging, emptying trash cans, and any other tasks were only carried out after all the carts were in and the recycling machines were functioning properly.

However, there were those “special orders” one had to factor in. If you’re me, you’re known for getting things done quickly and well, so the manager and other more important people than yourself (which, when you’re a courtesy, is everybody) are giving you special tasks all the time. I made it a point to carry out these tasks as quickly as possible, immediately if the store wasn’t too busy.

So you can imagine that my prioritizing was a big part of what made me the hardworking, efficient courtesy clerk that I was.

 

CONFIDENCE IN MY OWN DECISIONS

Confidence is something I think most people—if not everyone—learns while working their first job, but I found it to be especially useful to me, so I thought I’d mention it. When you’re given a position of responsibility, regardless of how much responsibility you’re given, you’re going to have to make decisions, and some of them you might not be too sure about. But the bottom line is that you know your job, your workplace, and your coworkers, and you are capable of making a decision. It’s also helpful to remind yourself that whatever you’re deciding on may have a drawback or two, it’s not going to ruin everything.

 

PEOPLE DON’T KEEP THEIR WORD

As if I needed another reason not to trust people, right? Working at Safeway confirmed what I thought, that people are just downright untrustworthy. Most of the problem here came from scheduling mishaps that were corrected multiple times on multiple different occasions, but I was still being scheduled for shifts that I’d told them I wasn’t able to work. They were also taking advantage of my reliability—my brain can barely process not showing up for my shift, especially without calling in to warn management first. It’s like those people who skip classes in school. How do they DO that?!?!

But anyway, I approached my managers several times about availability violations; my schedule was “revised” and I was promised that it wouldn’t happen again. But a couple weeks later, I would be scheduled to work those shifts. This started not long after I started working there, and continued for the duration of my employment. All faith I may have had in people’s words before has been completely shattered. I don’t know if I’ll ever take a promise seriously again.

 

PEOPLE DON’T DO ANYTHING FOR THEMSELVES

SERIOUSLY. JUST GRAB A DUSTER AND WIPE THE WINDOWSILL YOURSELF.

People would ask me to do the stupidest things—things that would take them a minute or less to do. It seemed like they would pass off even the simplest tasks to someone else if they could, and they were CONSTANTLY asking for help bringing in carts when it only takes one person half an hour or so to bring them all in on a regular day. Another courtesy would ask me to do something and I would think, “Yeah, I could do that…or YOU could, since you’re obviously not doing anything.” They’re just so blasted INEFFICIENT! I don’t know how it’s even possible!

But really, if you think about it, if you can’t excel at a minimum-wage job, don’t you think maybe you should work a little harder?

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