I worked 8:30-3 pm today. I wasn’t originally scheduled; it was an open shift and I picked it up via our scheduling app, which is called TimeForge.
Today I finally felt like I was moving into a work groove. It was a good day despite the fact that I got no sleep last night. I even ended writing my previous blog early so I could unwind, relax and go to sleep. It turned out to be one of those nights in which I turned out the light and, bam, my eyes popped open and my brain became nocturnal. It would not shut off.
The vibe at Sprouts is definitely more relaxed. I don’t feel like Big Sparky is watching. That yellow symbol that is a space surrounded by six flame-like bars radiating out of it, is called a spark, in Walmart lingo.
There are a couple of things I do miss about Walmart. I miss the hand scanner, also known as, “the gun.” At the staffed registers it’s a portable, hand held device that has a laser that reads bar codes. The self checkout registers have ones that are attached to the registers via a long spiral cord. A retail enterprise like Walmart sells a lot of big bulky merchandise like mini fridges and large flat screen TV’s. The hand scanner is absolutely necessary. Sprouts has no big merchandise. So, we don’t have hand scanners. Those scanners were also a back up in case the standard scanners couldn’t read certain barcodes that were faint or slightly damaged. Often the hand held ones worked after the standard ones failed. They were also great when trying to ring the bar codes on weighed produce.
It seems that many grocers are moving to mostly scanning the itty bitty produce stickers rather than hand keying the five or four digit code. Instead of keying in 4011 for regular bananas or 94011 for organic ones, management wants us to scan the codes on the stickers. Apparently, this is more accurate; it’s easy to mis-perceive what you are ringing-yellow for sweet onions, for example. This is nothing compared to confusing apple varieties.
Sprouts is flowing along that plan to scan, rather than hand key the codes. The hand scanner is great when ringing weighed items because trying to get the standard scanner to read the tiny, often wrinkled stickers, it’s easy to accidentally weigh your finger. That’s not a problem when your hand is busy squeezing the trigger while aiming the laser on the stickers.
Walmart registers were also programmed with a pick list of mostly produce items, many with photos, that were alphabetized and organized into fruits or veggies. I could just tap on the item in the list and it counted as a scan and not a hand key. Unfortunately, Sprouts has actual code books; it’s not unlike working in 1980.
So, I miss those two things and, of course, many of my co-workers and quite a few regulars. I did get to say good bye to some of them.
Overall, the vibe at Sprouts is more in tune with my spirit. A greater percentage of our customers use their own reusable bags or buy ones at the check stand to use for their purchases. I just have to teach myself to ring in the bag credit, which is five cents per reusable bag. There is a greater number of neo- and old hippies. I see more Grateful Dead apparel, which is humorous. Many of our customers are visitors or workers at the Winter Park campus of AdventHealth. Thus, a lot of nurses, techs and doctors shop at my store.
I ring up more soy, oat, almond and, cashew milks than I do cow’s milk. Tofu and organic veggies fly out the door. In training I learned that produce comprises 30% of sales at Sprouts. So far, that’s about what I’m seeing.
The people, customers and employees, are very pleasant. I haven’t encountered any actual jerks. One of the managers is a little up tight but, she doesn’t really directly work with the front end except to get newbies trained.
The store manager is really laid back but, works hard building and tearing down displays. He’s very hands on and he’s personable.
I like wearing t-shirts as part of my uniform but, after four and a half years of having to wear a vest that holds in the heat, I almost feel naked when I walk out onto the floor after clocking in. I don’t miss that vest.
I also don’t miss selling cigarettes, cigars or vaping equipment. I quit smoking in 1979. It took me a week and I was done. I did it cold turkey- no gum or patches or prescriptions. Every time I thought I wanted a smoke I made myself remember that nasty, disgusting smell and the urge fell away. Sprouts sells no lighters. Yay! I hate those stupid instruments of pollution and land fill hell.
Then, there’s the 180 degree improvement in the employee coffee. It comes from the coffee bean department rather than a supplier like Sysco or the like. The packets of ground coffee we had at Walmart didn’t even contain the right amount of coffee for a whole pot. It was a weird amount and the packets were void of any information. A trainer who retired during my tenure there once described the Walmart break room brew as, “…tasting like tree bark.” It made me curious enough to give it a try. Ugh, she was right.
Today I received my last Walmart paycheck. It was about a third the size of my usual paycheck deposits but, it was larger than I expected. I guess my protected paid time off and regular time off got closed out and added to my gross earnings.
When I arrived home, my roommate got our mail and I got a packet from Merrill who manages Walmart retirement plans. It explained the various ways I can get that money. There wasn’t a hint of how much that is. It’s probably not huge. I think I started my 401 (K) in 2019. I really don’t know. How sad.
OMG: there IS a pick list in the registers. I thought that was weird. I asked about it but, I got blank stares.