From mybloodiscoffee, talesfromthejob
Before my time as a pharmacy tech, I worked in the stock department of a grocery store. Retail...retail is awful. Work in retail for at least 6 months, then get out and never look back. It'll give you a brand-new appreciation of life and all the people who do the behind-the-scenes work.
STORE DEPARTMENTS, IN ORDER OF PRODUCTIVITY:
Meat: Get, in, get the job done, get out. Staffed exclusively with burly, no-nonsense, bearded men able to talk for hours on the finer points of lobster sushi or the best way to cook a T-bone steak.
Deli: A crew of misfits. Crosseyed Bob, Fireman Sandwich Chuck, "I can't see over the counter" Dorothy, and others. Steady workers, tendency towards anxiety attacks when the rushes hit.
Stock: The underdogs - perhaps with good reason, as most turned out to be lying thieves. Home department of yours truly, who contrived to make my absence apparent whenever it seemed that theft might be on the horizon.
Dairy: Eternally busy, never got any work done. The milk was always well-stocked, though.
Produce: True scumbags. Staffed entirely by employees kicked out of or otherwise deemed unfit for other departments.
For some reason, theft appears to be particularly rampant in the grocery-store business. My personal belief is that the reasons for this boil down into three main factors:
Lack of investment. Unless you aim for a management or ownership track, it's difficult to make a career in the grocery-store industry. Hence, the people hired are typically those without careers, whether inexperienced college students or people between more substantial jobs. This also results in a high turnover, meaning that the people working in the store don't have much of an investment in the company.
Low pay. Stocking shelves, for the most part, is a task that requires little skill or training to perform adequately. Management is not about to pay top dollar for "unskilled labor", and has little incentive to raise pay much above minimum wage, especially in areas where there's no shortage of people looking for jobs.
Easy pickings. If you can dispose of the evidence immediately (by eating it), the barrier to theft is all but removed. It's the work of a moment to grab a handful of something and pop it in your mouth. I've personally seen people do this literally behind a manager's back or while they were in the same room but looking the other way.
These three factors combined tend to provide people with a lot more incentive to grab something small without paying for it than there might be in other industries. Obviously, my points above are not one-size-fits-all, but rather based on my personal experience. The grocery store I worked at hosted more than its fair share of theft, and I saw a lot of it in the stock room.
Nobody ever stole in this department. Each and every employee was a salaried professional who took their job seriously. The most that ever happened was when a customer ordered grilled shrimp 10 minutes before closing, then left the store and never came back. Rather than waste the food by throwing it out, the meat guy gave it to Stock to divvy up and consume.
The few perks of working at the store were housed in Deli. Deli employees would create sandwiches upon request, which other employees could then purchase at reduced cost. This led to all sorts of interesting experimental favorites, including but not limited to:
The Fireman: Habanero cheese, jalapeño, black-pepper turkey, Buffalo chicken, chipotle sauce
The BJ: London broil, pepper jack, honey ham, Provolone, ketchup, and mustard
The Melt: Pulled pork, sharp Cheddar, mayo; toasted in oven until cheese melted
The second perk was only available occasionally, and then only near closing time. A cookie jar was kept off to the side so that exasperated parents could give their little brats an unnecessary reward to temporarily quell their screaming. Every morning it was refilled with fresh product, and an hour or so before closing they would start giving out the remainder to employees. The evil sons of goats in Produce would wait until exactly one hour before closing, then go clean out the jar.
Deli employees would post a guard to their walk-in refrigerator and eat a drumstick or two inside or give themselves samples of the meats and cheeses - sometimes they would sample 2 or 3 meats and cheeses at once along with a small sample of bread...
The back room that housed the Stock department had no cameras. None whatsoever. This astonishing lack of foresight must have cost the company hundreds of dollars per week, because by and large the Stock employees were lazy, thieving sneaks. In my first few months at the store, no less than 5 people were fired from Stock alone for stealing products, notably:
Condom Guy, who walked out into the aisles in full view of the store cameras, grabbed a pack of condoms, put them in his pocket, then walked back into the Stock room.
Skittles Guy, who denied stealing anything but was betrayed by the rattling noise he made when he walked away - caused by the 3 open packs of unpaid-for Skittles in his pockets.
Lunch Guy, who took his discounted sandwich from the deli, grabbed a bag of chips from the front registers, set them on a shelf in the middle of Aisle 5, and started eating his lunch. The store manager confronted him, then called his bluff by dragging him to the front and asked every single cashier who'd been on duty for the past 4 hours if they'd rung him up. Upon receiving a truthful "no" from each cashier, Lunch Guy was sacked on the spot, but rehired a year later on the good word of his sister, a cashier.
Some additional figures who still live on in legend and myth as they were never caught:
Phantom Guy, who occasionally compiled a pallet of assorted foodstuffs in the Stock room throughout the day, clocked out at the end of his shift, then drove his pickup to the back dock and loaded it up before driving away.
Night Crew, who were locked in at night and had free run of the store for an entire 8-hour shift. They used that time to, apparently, break down pallets, leave muddy footprints on top of the customer service counter, and leave the wrappers of their stolen snack food on the shelves.
Each member of Dairy had at least one small container of chocolate milk, orange juice, or other stolen beverage chilling in their walk-in at all times. Their cartons of milk and ice cream provided convenient places to rest their weary bones from the toils of the day as they sipped on an ice-cold drink of their choice. One guy in particular liked to make chocolate milk using his own personal recipe: one swig of milk held in mouth, with chocolate syrup added to taste before swallowing.
A favorite pastime of the Dairy department was to open cans of biscuits and toss the lumps of raw dough at the ceiling hard enough to make them stick. Over time, they would congeal, then petrify. A few times a year, the manager would send up a crew on a high ladder to take a chisel - yes, an actual chisel - and a HAMMER to break the fossilized biscuits off the ceiling.
All members of Dairy were virtually untouchable as their manager was fiercely loyal to them and would fight tooth and nail against anyone daring to profane the name of Dairy.
A more corrupt den of layabouts, morons, and generally awful people was not to be found for miles around. The fiendish Produce employees conspired together to do one thing, and one thing only: avoid work. Produce was restocked exactly twice a day: once in the morning and once in the evening. There was no work to be done in the back room, for all of Produce's sellable goods were shipped in boxes whose final resting place was directly on top of the Produce displays. Once the shifty ProduGuys completed this onerous and difficult task, they were free to sit down in the back and get back to what really mattered - catching up on their sleep.
I cannot count the number of times I walked into the Produce room for one reason or another and woke a sleeping ProduGuy. A few of the more industrious ones brought books to read, and one enterprising fellow actually brought a pillow.
Out on the Produce dock was the soda truck, filled with all sorts of deliciously sweet beverages. When the ProduGuys were thirsty, they would walk into the truck - out of view of the sole camera on that dock - crack open a soda can or bottle, take a swig, then walk back out and abandon the container to be discovered later. The brave ones would grab a 6-pack and take it over to Dairy to cool off in the walk-in before consumption.
I did my best to stay away from all of this madness and to make it clear that I was not a participant in any of it. I was content to buy items before consuming them and to refrain from consuming items I had not bought. As a result, 5 months after I started I was the second-most senior member of the Stock department.