TaraFly's original artwork - Clean Up in Water Aisle

I’m currently* employed full-time as a grocery manager in a large retail supercenter…. not going to mention which one, as corporate spies most likely scour the Internet daily looking for employees bad-mouthing their company. People who’ve protested too loudly have often disappeared under suspicious circumstances.
The men in grey suits (who carry out these nefarious commands) are paid extremely high salaries to buy their loyalty and silence concerning such matters.

(*Currently – refers to my tentative plan to change my work schedule, or quit altogether, upon the arrival of my third and last spawn. The cost of daycare even now is eating us alive, up to the knees at this point).

I will however miss the occasional occurrences at work that make great stories for re-telling. I will have to make-do, I suppose, with stories that Joe brings home and live vicariously through him. One such incident happened to me last night…

First of all…
People are always leaving merchandise on the wrong shelves, after walking two aisles over and deciding they no longer want the item. Or else, they come into the store with coffee or soda, and leave a half-empty cup behind. Our numerous trash receptacles have a habit of becoming invisible when customers look for them.
It doesn’t usually bother me, unless they grab a perishable item, like meat dripping in juice or a carton of ice-cream, and lay it down in the cereal aisle… laziness is one thing, but wasting products on purpose is another. Especially when I have to throw away a couple boxes of cereal also, because they were covered in chicken juice or melted ice-cream leaking from it’s container. I mean, seriously folks, don’t make me give you a lecture ….
Other people (the dishonest sorts) steal parts of an item, and leave the rest on the shelf…. a single can from a 12-pack of soda for instance. Like, who wants to drink a warm soda anyway? Unless they’re patient enough to wait until they get home to chill it? … or the industrious types who go to the paper-goods area – steal a cup from a pack, and then head over to the ice-machine and break open a bag for a couple cubes?? There you go. Help yourself.

I’ve seen some strange things done by thieves, a few of them fairly ingenious actually. And my husband could tell many more stories, as the head of store security for the same company (we work in different locations, though).

What happened to me last night, however, still boggles my mind. As a mother. As a self-respecting human being.

I was helping my two stockers yesterday by refilling the sparkling, flavored water aisle… which was wiped out by customers panicked over our recent reports of snow showers (no accumulation, though). God knows, when the flakes begin to fall, everyone needs sparkling black-cherry flavored water… oh, and 10 gallons of milk. Enough to last 3 weeks or more, in case our homes are buried in a freak eight-foot blizzard, like… back in… oh, you know, remember? The last time everyone was snowed-in for almost a month? What year was that? 1832 ?
It doesn’t help that our company is trying to tighten expenses and operate with less staffing. So the aisles were bare, and my two stockers and I were working furiously to provide these poor saps with their flavored water before it was too late….
I barely noticed a jumbo pack of diapers sitting on the shelf. Actually, it registered in the back of my mind… it appeared unopened, and I made a mental note to return it to the Infants Aisle (30 feet away) when I finished my cart of water. I continued farther down the aisle, and made The Discovery. A lone diaper lying on the shelf, beside the liter bottles of kiwi-strawberry. A diaper… a used one… smelly and heavy… semi-rolled up… just sitting there like it belonged.
(20 feet away, at the end of this very aisle, was one of those invisible trash cans) I remembered the diaper pack, and checked it again. Sure enough, it had been opened (and a diaper removed), and the discreet mother (or father) laid it back down so the hole was covered. Didn’t want anyone to realize you stole a
diaper, did you? You stood there, in the middle of the water aisle, and changed your child’s dirty butt, and laid the waste on the shelf…

We do have changing stations in our restrooms, so they had the option of drawing less attention to themselves. And being respectful of other shoppers… I doubt others would want to buy their precious kiwi-strawberry water, 10-foot blizzard or not, when they might be contaminated by the smelly diaper sitting 3 inches in
front of them.
I understand the economy is suffering, and prices are sky-rocketing. I get blamed every day for raising prices. People are hostile with me, when I’m changing signs – as if I personally want to inflate the price of canned peas by 10 cents. Do you think I recoup that money myself? Does my pay increase with every can
sold? Absolutely!! (not).
Although I don’t condone theft, I can understand a suffering family who can’t afford to buy a pack of diapers (perhaps until pay day)… and suddenly the worst scenario happens, and your child poops his pants in the store, and you need a diaper. He’s crying. He’s uncomfortable and he stinks. And the more he cries and
stinks, the worse it reflects on you – bad parent – for not being able to provide for him. So you take a diaper to ease your guilt and his pains. I’ll forgive you.
But for God’s sake, don’t show your ignorant upbringing by leaving your garbage on the shelf for others to clean up. And if you did it out of spite, to “get-back” at the store that robbed you with it’s high prices, there are better ways than by embarrassing yourself.

I decided to mention this incident to my assistant manager, and fortunately I found him sitting at his desk – on lunch break – eating a roast beef sandwich from Subway. I said, “I have something to tell you. It’s kind of gross, but pretty amusing, actually. Keep eating.”
As I regaled the story to him in every possible detail, making him experience the event firsthand with my words, I got a strange satisfaction watching him choke on his mouthful of food. And when I mentioned that the entire aisle now smells like a baby’s poopy diaper, and how nauseating it is… I paused and asked politely,

“So, how’s the sandwich? I hear Subway makes a mean roast beef.”

Let this be a lesson to all of the dishonest, or disrespectful, customers out there. If you come into my store and make a fool of yourself, you might find yourself the subject of an embarrassing rant on an Internet blog… I’ll catch you, my pretty. And your stinky baby too. 🙂