The Miracle of Winn-Dixie: A Series, Pt. 5

While most of my time at Winn-Dixie was spent in the store, by the cash register, in the bathrooms (and not in the break room, apparently), I spent a large portion of my time in the parking lot. It’s weird for me how many people request an assist taking their groceries to their cart.

I’ll do a quick aside here to say that I’m always surprised at people’s behavior in stores. When I worked at Target (for two days) I remember being in training and hearing them say that one of the many things that set Target apart from Wal-Mart was how Target employees actively seek out customers to help rather than forcing the customer to find the employee. “There can’t be much of that,” I thought, mainly because I never — and I mean NEVER — ask for help in a retail store. I don’t know why, I just don’t … but believe me when I tell you that people DO.

It once took me 90 minutes to get from one side of the store to the other because so many people saw my red shirt and came to me for help. It didn’t help that I didn’t know the store layout, so helping a customer ended up taking me at least twice as long as it should have but still. That’s just the day in the life of a Target employee. It’s part of the reason why I only lasted two days.

Anyway, MANY people ask for help with their groceries and while most of them are just old people who likely could stand to take a load off, I think a lot of the folks were just wanting someone to chat with on their way to their car. Old ladies talking to me about school and the price of dog food, old men talking to me about football and the price of cantaloupes. Nothing ground-breaking, just casual old-people small talk. I really enjoyed it, honestly.

We were told that we weren’t allowed to accept tips from customers in the parking lot but I never turned them down. Sometimes it was a dollar or two which doesn’t sound like much but we had an off-brand soda machine where canned soft drinks cost only a quarter so $2 had me drinking like a big shot for the rest of the week basically.

There was also a few times where an old woman would have bought a giant pack of cookies or cupcakes and she’d want me to sit on the back of her trunk with her and eat a couple with her — HOW ARE YOU GOING TO TURN THIS DOWN!? I shared cupcakes with some of the sweetest old ladies in East Tennessee while I worked at this job.

But then there were the few weirdos — like the old lady who bought $75 worth of cat food and kitty litter every week, requested that it all get put into paper bags and that I carry those to her car. Not a big deal but she drove a giant black car about the size of a boat and she was quite obviously a hoarder. I’d spend 10 minutes or more trying to find places to stash her six or seven paper bags in the front seat, back seat, back floorboard and trunk, each being like a unique game of Tetris.

There was also the lady who asked for my help getting her husband out of the car. OUT of the car. I went out and the man had some kind of skin condition that made his legs look like he’d taken a bath in fire. He hadn’t bathed in weeks so I held my breath for the majority of this exercise. Oh, and he was only wearing a bathrobe. I got him situated in a motorized wheelchair and spent the next half hour gathering carts in the parking lot as slowly as I could just so I could get some fresh air.

So there may have been countless old people asking me to carry their groceries to their car, crazy cat ladies with numerous paper bags and hoarder vehicles, and stinky old weird dudes in bath robes … but I guess at least if I took the groceries out, the cart came back to the store, not left on the curb, in a parking spot, or somehow in the neighboring McDonald’s parking lot.

My TITLE Boxing Club family knows how I feel about that. It’s not a new thing, y’all.

Anyway, there’s one more installment of this weird series. Hopefully I’ll write it tomorrow.

Ever onward.

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