I look back on my days as a grocery bag boy and a grin comes to my face. This grin has mixed emotion. Working at a grocery store was one of those jobs where you did it because it was the only thing you could think of at the time. I remember I was 16 and tired of being broke. I was sick of asking my parents for money every week. I wanted MORE. So, this lead me to walking down to the nearest grocery store and getting a job as a bag boy. Yes, you heard me, a bag boy.
If you look at the way a grocery store is structured, you’ll notice that the “bag boy” is at the bottom of the ladder.
I was the jack of all trades. If there was a spill on aisle three, I was on it. If there were missing carts out in the parking lot, I was chasing them down. If a customer needed help out to their car, I was the guy for the job. Sounds glamorous doesn’t it? It actually wasn’t. Looking back on all the jobs I had, it was definitely one of my least favorite. However, this is the one job that had the greatest impact on my life. There are just some things you can’t learn working white collar jobs. Here are a few take-aways from working at my local grocery store.
1. If you want to move up, work harder than the person next to you.
Working at a grocery store, actions speak louder than words. I cannot tell you how many times I heard employees tell managers they were going to do something but never did. It’s much more impressive to look the manager in the eye, and assure them it will be done immediately and then go carry out your task. Also, as a Christian, I had a higher calling than simply trying to impress my boss. God was my boss, and even though I didn’t enjoy waking up at 6AM to go to work, I was going to work my butt off that day. The hard work paid off. Within three years, I moved up two positions and ended up landing in the produce department 🙂
2. It’s the simple things that count.
There was something special about helping old grandmothers get a jar off the shelf or even offering customers help out to their car. Even though I was just a bag boy, offering this extra “service” really made people’s days. When I saw their expressions, it made a world of difference in my day too!
3. The customer never sleeps.
There was always a steady stream of customers coming into the grocery I worked at. During the first few weeks, it was overwhelming but I ended up getting used to it. With the thousands of customers coming in on a daily basis, I could never let my guard down. This taught me a sense of personal responsibility to keep my “A game” on at all time during the eight hours of work. A customer wanted not just a product but a shopping experience. It was my job to provide this for them. This has carried over into my professional life in the construction industry. Now, it’s more like the “owner” never sleeps. While at work, it’s critical to be on top of your game and provide a superior end product.
4. Boring, repetitive tasks build your work ethic.
I had moved up to the dairy department and one of my duties was to stock the entire dairy aisle. This included everything from butter to milk to eggs. It’s probably one of the more monotonous jobs I’ve had in my life. It taught me discipline and instilled the drive to get things done faster and more efficiently. I remember stocking shelves one time and found a faster way to unstack milk cases to stock the cold refrigerators. Not only did this make my job easier, but it became a challenge. That has stuck with me to this day. Always be looking for areas of improvement so you can work more efficiently.
All in all, the grocery store treated me well. I still remember that good feeling of getting a 20 cent raise. Even though it was small, it made my day. I hope you can take these lessons I learned and apply them to your life.
Comment below and share with us some of your work experiences!
Photo by Polycart