Couple years ago (six or so to be more exact) I was dirt broke. Never was
much of a spender. The less charitable might have used the term miser. Still
when you make zero dollars you can only ever go down. It was this point in time
where I realized I would need a job. I shot high with my first few attempts.
Gamestop seemed like a good fit. I had a friend who worked there, could always
use a discount on games, I am knowledgeable about the subject. I had an
interview (which is farther than some other people I knew got), but no call
back. I moved on. I know some other people who worked at the local CVS and BJs.
Got nothing back from my online CVS application so that was bust. Got an
interview at BJs, but I seem to recall saying I preferred to work alone. Many
people have called this a ‘poor move’ which seemed to be accurate as I never
got a return call. I tried some local independent bookstores, but go no bites
from them. It was this desperate state of affairs that forced me to consider
the grocery store business. I had thought about this before, but I was
admittedly unexcited about the idea. Here is a quick rundown of how I would
have rated part time jobs back then:
1. Paid to do nothing
567. Test subject for radiation experiments
568. Live fire missile target
569. Grocery store
560. A life of destitution and poverty
Granted it is not at the bottom of the list, but it comes in pretty close.
That said, bank account was trending toward zero and Anime Boston was coming
up. Man has got to make ends meet yo. Why Market Basket? Why not the closer
Shaws or Stop and Shop? No real particular reason, a person I knew who worked
there suggested it to me. The thing to know about Market Basket is they are mad
cheap. As in we do not run a website we are so cheap. As in we print half sized
job applications because the full size application would cost to much. That is
the kind of place they are. The kind of place I worked at for four years. The
kind of place I wore a tire, a button up white shirt, fancy pants, and dress
shoes. I remember cleaning up an oil spill once in my nice white shirt once.
Half the difficulty is in staying clean for a day. So why do I miss it? What
could there even be to miss? Long tedious hours, a pay slightly above the
minimum, constant interaction with people. This is the place I got yelled at
because a man wanted a few extra dollars off on a cooked chicken, a place where
one day I cut my hand to pieces picking up shattered glass, a place where I
spent all day sweating it out pushing carriages in that hot Bellingham summer.
My job now is luxurious, a quiet uninterrupted climate controlled environment
to play with digital legos. And to think they pay me to do it too. How could I
even think to compare what I have now with what I had before? Yet it is true,
my job now lacks what I had before: joyful communal torture.
I miss the struggle of trying to last through a day. The pure stress of not
being sure if you can stand one more hour, but pulling through anyways. It is
not just that however, I miss struggling together with everyone else like me.
Market Basket was stratified into two classes of employees: long term lifers
and short term teenagers. The split of about 200 employees was about 40% lifers
and 60% teenagers. That is not the split where I work now. It is more of an
even breakdown of ages. Back then it was thrilling to work with so many people
like me. All at near about the same place in life, similar hopes and dreams.
There is an inexpressible joy in struggling together with everyone. We were
challenged together and did it together everyday. It sounds incredibly sappy to
write that, but since leaving I have not found that feeling again. It is
probably for the better too, I can only endure so many stressful days. But you
cannot replace those frighteningly strong burst of comradery. It is what
motivated me to fill in other people’s shifts, what kept me sane, what kept me
I work for myself now, but back then I worked for others.