Working as a part-time cashier at Stop & Shop was for the most part exactly what you think it would be. It’s not the most exciting job in the world, but it gives you a way to productively spend your time and a way to earn some money.
When I applied last winter, they needed workers due to the constant shortage of associates during the pandemic. I had never worked in a grocery store before nor had I worked on a register, but I was confident that I could figure it out and help out my local Stop & Shop.
I had anticipated the hours feeling like days and the stress that would come when I ran into technical issues, but what I had not expected was how many people I would meet who were nothing like me yet would give me so much perspective on my own life.
I had the opportunity to speak and interact with hundreds of customers, but my most reflective moments came from my time spent with my co-workers.
When I was going through my training, I had two women working with me who at first seemed very impatient when it came to new workers like me. And me being the people pleaser I am, I always wanted to stay out of their way and work hard to learn as fast as I could. The more time I spent with Kathy and Linda, the more I learned about their lives.
Kathy worked the same shift every weekday and then would go work as a crossing guard at a nearby high school. Two jobs every single day. And she was still able to make so many good relationships with usual customers; so much so that people would wait on her line no matter how long it was. She was always good for a sarcastic joke and an honest opinion.
Linda also worked two jobs. After her 10:30-2:30 shift, she would change her uniform and go work for several more hours at a 7-Eleven. She worked so hard when she was at work and never complained about how long she was on her feet.
Even when I moved to my own register, both Kathy and Linda would help me with any problems I ran into, and they told our managers great things about me when they asked.
When I worked my 6 a.m. shifts, I would always look forward to working with Ed. He was old enough to retire but loved his job. He was the most well-known personality at Stop & Shop due to his cheesy jokes and morning reminders on the speakerphone.
During the slow hours of the morning, in between his elderly regular customers, he would take out his iPad and show me photos of his wife, his son, and things that he cooked. He would share stories of famous people he met and his uncle who was a famous opera singer. He made the long mornings go by faster and always made me laugh.
All three of them helped me take a step back and appreciate life a little bit more. It was a difficult time for everyone to be grateful for the world we were currently living in. At that point, cases were rising, the vaccine was not being distributed yet, and everything was still so uncertain. At a time where I was just letting every day pass me by, these people who were double and even triple my age unexpectedly impacted my day-to-day life and my mindset.
Kathy and Linda both made me grateful for the fact that I work because I want to and not because I have to at this point in my life. They always made the most of their time at work and had an incredible work ethic that inspires me.
Ed showed me how to make regular customers your friends and how to impress the managers. But more importantly, he showed me how much joy life can bring us even in the worst of times. His simple daily routine made him happy, and that joy was spread to everyone he spoke to.
Even though our roles as your cashier may not make a crazy impact on your life, he taught me that if we can make you laugh, smile, or wish you a nice day, it can at least make people that much happier in that moment.