I can’t speak for all grocery stores, but the one I work for takes it’s work very seriously. We are NOT setting out food for you to purchase. No. We are creating sculptures, of which you are invited to pluck off its elements and nourish your bodies from its sweet nectar.
I understand there is an artform to marketing; numerous psychological studies recorded shopping trends, buying habits, etc. For example, when entering a store’s door, most people automatically veer to the right. Most department stores capitalize on this and place the women’s clothes on the right, men’s on the left. So if you’re a woman shopping for a man, they set it up that the woman veers to the right, then passes all the other departments before coming back around to the men’s clothing. Now you’re thinking of all the stores where this is true. Those little distractions and impulse buys are no accident. I’m talking to you, Target Dollar Spot.
Similarly, people don’t want to buy ugly food. Or dirty food. Or messy food. I get that. But picture this: it’s the Saturday before the Super Bowl. Seahawks vs. Broncos. The store is abuzz with everyone buying indulgent goodies for their parties. And when I say “abuzz,” I really mean the place was uncomfortably packed. It’s noon, and by now the deli case windows were dotted with fingerprints and potato salad smears. This Picasso on Glass was deemed unacceptable by The Most High, and I am the chosen One destined to clean it.
Let’s take this brief moment and give a shout out to Colossians 3:23:
“Whatever your task work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men.”
UUUUUGHHHHHH. THIS SUCKS. These are 10 windows, each 3×5 feet, with a process of wiping, washing, drying, and, when working efficiently, takes about 30 minutes to complete. And in case I didn’t emphasize it enough, there’s people. Lots of people.
My direct supervisor kindly says, “We’re super busy, so just do a quick spot clean.” I do.
The Most High returns, pulling me in front of the deli case, and I see her short, stocky frame suddenly transform into that of a wiry art critic. With one hand on her cocked hip, she gestures to the deli case with a flowy hand and limp wrist. She importantly asks,
“What do you see?”
Seriously? It takes all my will power to not laugh. Instead, I partake in the critiquing game, squinting my eyes, really trying to see something. I even cross my arm, thoughtfully putting one hand under my chin. I’m such a good actor. But after a few seconds I give up. I honestly reply, “I’m not sure.”
“YOU DON’T SEE ALL THOSE SMUDGES??? YOU DON’T SEE HOW FILTHY THE WINDOWS ARE? DO IT AGAIN.”
No spot clean this time. I washed them for real. Waiting customers weren’t happy. My coworkers weren’t happy, but I had to do it. Which is why when someone hit Be Kind, Rewind of my life’s movie for the above conversation to replay, I came dangerously close to dropping my bucket and rag and walking out. I wasn’t laughing this time, not even on the inside.
My soul was in a little puddle on the floor, and everyone around was stomping on it. As my internal angsty monologue complained how terrible it was to be washing windows for the third time, it hit me: The passion and drive I feel for theatre and dance is the way The Most Highs feel about their store. That passion is what drives the perfectionism…and maybe a smidge of OCD. Everyday is Opening Night at the grocery store, and I am running crew. You don’t see me. My work sucks. But without running crew the production can’t run efficiently.