Serious Eats

Grocery Girl: My Life Working for a Grocery Chain

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To get to my office, you have to walk through the whole supermarket. First, the rainbow produce, then the proud olive oil bottles and the fragrant coffee, and the butcher section with its big, red slabs of meat, around the beer bend...

Then up through a grand, grave-looking door with "Do Not Enter!!" affixed to its front. Then you pass through an imposing metal gate, up a narrow flight of stairs, and through another creaky gate. Your ID card gets buzzed not once, not twice, but thrice.

The "medium security prison," as my coworkers affectionately call my office, is also the cash room for the company, hence the hardcore security.

After three months with my company, I am still without an official place to work, which I'm assured is totally normal and nothing to worry about. One day I will have my own little corner of a desk and a computer to call my own.

Until then, I bounce around to the desks of various people who are busy working in one of our stores or perhaps away on a trip. Sometimes I get settled, only to have the desk's actual owner come and peer at me sideways. I apologize, scramble to save and email myself my work, grab my stuff, and hunt for the next place to camp out.

The Good Stuff

Besides my lack of a home at work, and other numerous quirks, I dig my new job.

I loved restaurant work in part because I was on my feet all day, running around doing this, that, and the million other things. Now I'm a much more desky person. I even wear heels to work sometimes! (A first!)

Other days, I am in jeans and sneaks running around the stores, hanging up signs on ladders and telling customers where the oatmeal is; or giving out umbrellas to VIPs and helping orchestrate a teen cook-off. No two days are alike.

I get to do a lot of writing: waxing poetic about standing rib roasts, or Catalan olive oils, or Basque cheeses, or frozen veggie burgers. I feel lucky that I get paid to write about food, that my two passions are coming to live together so gorgeously.

Room to Grow and Grow and Grow

There's a laundry list of ideas for projects I will delve into. We're working on new ways to train the managers and staff, to get them all fired up about our incredible, no-one-else-has-them, amazingly priced, unfathomably delicious specialty items. The soft dried French fruit, the highest quality anchovies, the tiny production olives, the cheeses, the chocolates.

We're organizing our archives of signs and information; a veritable and enormous treasure chest of knowledge, details, quotes, and stories.

And meanwhile, I'm writing like crazy. About products for Hanukah, or how to serve your lamb chops, or our kosher selection, or why nobody cold presses olive oil anymore.

Unencumbered by an official job title, I am both overwhelmed and inspired by the endless possibilities, wide open and waiting for me.

And, there's the not small perk that I'm working with food, in a truly great store. What could be so bad when I'm only a few gigantic gates away from fresh crusty breads, just-popped popcorn, towers of awesome cheeses? There's always a latte waiting to cheer me up, a bialy, a coconut macaroon, a half sour pickle. Life is good.

About the author: Hannah Howard is a restaurant professional turned grocery girl. She loves pickles, recently returned to New York, and has a new baby blog.

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