Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Archive for the tag “food”

I’m Hanging Up My Apron

Behind The Register After 12 years of of working at the supermarket, I’ve decided to call it quits. I came to the realization last week that working a full-time job, being a part-time graduate student and working part-time at the grocery store was a bit overwhelming. I wasn’t getting enough sleep and I couldn’t devote the appropriate amount of time to school work. Something had to go, so I decided to bid adieu to the first job I ever had.

I started working at the supermarket when I was 16 years old, and I’ve met some great people and had wonderful experiences along the way. I’ve also encountered my fair share of crazies and been placed in highly stressful situations. Nevertheless, my time there was well spent and I have no regrets.

I’ve been telling my “regulars” (i.e., customers I ring up on a consistent basis) that this is my last week and many of them have said “this place won’t be the same without you” and “I’m going to miss you.” Hearing this made me realize the impact I’ve had on certain customers and the impact they’ve had on me. Yes, I may not be best friends with these people outside the store, but, in some cases, we’ve spent the past 12 years together and with it came a lot of laughter and memories. Some of these people have shared their most personal triumphs and failures with me and I’m honored that they felt comfortable doing so.

While I look forward to catching up on sleep and hitting the books, I’ll miss certain elements of my time at the supermarket. Thankfully, 12 years behind the register has provided me with a plethora of humorous and touching stories that I look forward to sharing with you. Similar to my supermarket stories blog posts, they will capture the essence of my memorable encounters with customers and colleagues. Stay tuned for more details.

One Man’s Quest For A Free Burrito

Qdoba Valentine's Day SpecialOne of my favorite places to grab lunch is Qdoba. I receive substantial portions of high-quality fast food at a reasonable price, and the restaurant’s rewards program is very good. While there are consistently different promotions and coupons to take advantage of, my favorite one can only be used on Valentine’s Day.

Last year, on February 14, I discovered that Qdoba had a buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO)┬ádeal if you kissed another person at the register. Working in communications, I thought this was an ingenious promotion…and I was hungry. So, I decided to take advantage of this special. My only problem was finding someone to kiss. I looked around the office and no one was there but one of my male colleagues, and I knew he wasn’t going to play ball.

Without anyone to kiss, I set off for Qdoba on Walnut Street. Upon my arrival, I noticed a middle-aged couple in front of me. As we got closer to the cash register, I sheepishly asked the couple if I could kiss the wife in order to fulfill the requirement of the promotion. Thankfully, the husband wasn’t offended. Instead he said, “I have to kiss her for my coupon!” I said, ” I understand. But how about you kiss her first, and then I kiss her for my order?” Neither the husband nor the wife were on board with my idea.

I was quickly losing hope until I saw a woman get in line behind me. I turned around and said, “I have a weird question for you. Can I kiss you on the cheek so I can get a free burrito?” I explained that it was a Valentine’s Day promotion, and she questioned the veracity of my claim, so I showed her the special on my phone. After a little cajoling and letting her know that she could kiss me for a free meal, she agreed. We got to the front of the line and I said to her, “If I’m going to kiss you, I should at least know your name. I’m Michael, and you are?” “Tatiana,” she replied. We exchanged kisses and walked away with two extra meals for free.

This year Qdoba is having the same offer, and I plan on taking advantage of it. The only difference is I now have a girlfriend. Thankfully, she loves Qdoba too.

Hurricane Hysteria

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This weekend I’m working more than 16 hours at the supermarket. With a hurricane set to hit the East Coast, it has been one of the busiest weekends I’ve ever experienced. Today I rang up nearly 500 customers, and all of them bought a ton of juice, eggs, bread, pasta, batteries, and, of course, water. Earlier in the week, I rang up a married couple and the wife turned and said to her husband, “I’m scared babe. I think we should buy extra water.” As evidenced by the photo above, we sold almost all of the water in the store. Clearly, the general public shares the aforementioned woman’s fear that the local water supply will be crippled by the storm.

I find this kind of behavior comical for several reasons. First of all, if the electricity goes out, all the food people bought will go bad because their refrigerators won’t work. And buying an obscene amount of water seems silly. We live in Philadelphia, not the Sahara. Water is plentiful and easy to come by. Last time I checked, all local homes – with plumbing – have clean, fresh water available on demand.

If you live on the East Coast, your best bet is to steer clear of supermarkets, avoid local TV news and enjoy a good book and/or movie at home. If you don’t become consumed by the hysteria, you’ll quickly realize that this hurricane will eventually move on, and so will we.

Supermarket Stories: Silly Crackhead, Trix Are For Kids

As I write this, I’m enjoying a bowl of Fruit Loops. And as I stare into my bowl of colorful, crunchy goodness, I can’t help but think of the time I had a run-in with a crackhead over a box of Trix cereal.

It was 8 p.m. on a Saturday, and I was working behind the register at the food store. I was grateful that my shift had been uneventful up until that point. Then a ragged looking woman clutching a box of Trix got into my line. After I quickly ascertained that the customer was high as a kite, she whipped out a check book and started filling it out.

Unless a customer is old, old fashioned or has recently been robbed of his or her wallet, there is no reason to pay for groceries with a check. Not only is this payment method anachronistic, but it’s not advantageous to the customer; he or she must provide the cashier with a phone number and a state-issued photo ID, not to mention waste time filling out the check. And at my store, you can only get $25 cash back using a check. With a debit card, you can get $50.

Needless to say, Ms. Rocky Mountain High was adding $25 to her check, for drug money, no doubt. Knowing this transaction wouldn’t end well, I asked her for her Pennsylvania ID. After illegibly scrawling out the necessary information on her check, she handed it to me with an out-of-state ID. I proceeded to tell her we couldn’t accept the check for several reasons (i.e., the check number was too low, her ID wasn’t from PA and the address on the check didn’t match the ID), and she asked to speak with the Manager. He came over, told her the same thing and she argued with him saying, “Why can’t you just put it through?”

I voided the order, and moved onto the next customer. Over my shoulder, I noticed that she Ms. Trix was still arguing with the Manager at Customer Service. He repeatedly told her why the store couldn’t accept the check and asked her to leave. She argued with him for such a long period of time that he had to punch out and go home because his shift was over.

After he left, she tried to get back into my line. I told her, “I’m not ringing you up.” So, she went to the cashier directly across from me, and I said, “Don’t you dare ring her up.” Then she returned to my line and said, “Can I talk to the Manager?”

“You did, for 30 minutes, and he told you we can’t accept your check. More importantly, he’s not here. He went home.”

“There must be somebody I can talk to … somebody!” she said, raising her voice.

“There is,” I replied. “The police.”

“The police? Why? Will they make you accept my check?”

“No, they’ll remove you from the store,” I said. Pointing out the obvious to anyone not on drugs.

I pulled out my cell phone and called the police station down the street. I told them I had a customer that refused to leave, and that I believed she was dangerous – anything to speed up their arrival and her removal.

Within five minutes, four police officers walked in the front door and told the woman she had to leave. She flipped out and slammed the pen she wrote her bad check with on the counter and yelled, “This is bullshit!” The cops escorted her out of the store, and I was a little nervous that she might be waiting for me when I left. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.

The bottom line is this: Avoid crackheads with a penchant for children’s cereal, and please pay for groceries with a credit/debit card or cash.

Supermarket Stories: The Curious Case Of Facial Hair

I’ve been working part-time at my local supermarket for nearly 11 years. I started off as a bagger and moved up to cashier. It’s provided me with a decent amount of income and benefits throughout high school, college and now, grad school. It’s also provided me with an endless supply of stories; below is one of my favorites.

Several years ago, I was ringing up one of my regular customers – let’s call him Bill. Normally he sports a goatee, but this time he was clean shaven. I told him I thought he looked great, and that, in my opinion, all men look younger without facial hair. Then I jokingly said, “Women look younger without facial hair too.” As Bill and I were laughing at my quip, I turned toward my next customer. To my chagrin, it was a miserable older woman with – of course – a hairy upper lip. Needless to say, I was mortified, as I sheepishly asked her, “Do you have your savings card?”

Do you have an interesting, humorous or flat-out bizarre supermarket story you’d like to share? If so, please feel free to post it in the comments section below.

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