Sat.: Dec. 17, 2011: I was going to write a new post along the lines of the road not taken, which likely would have been a schmaltzy piece about past job offers declined and how life might have been different if taken, however, I’ll save that for another day! Instead, I’m going to write about my recent adventures as an underemployed worker – there are just too many amusing stories and observations to share!
In previous posts I wrote about my “dip schlepping” job at Sam’s Club, and also mentioned that I work part-time at what I affectionately call Ham Land. For the sake of privacy, and to keep myself employed, I won’t name the company. I worked in Ham Land during the last holiday season, and of course, didn’t dream in a million years that I would be back in the Land O’ Ham again this year! Last year I worked in one of Ham Land’s seasonal kiosks in a local grocery store. A few months back, I started working part-time in a Ham Land store, courtesy of Ms. Mini Ham, who hired me last year to work in the kiosk. I really like Ms. Mini Ham, who is very laid back with a great sense of humor, and who, by the way, loves that I call the store Ham Land! As the holidays approached, I volunteered to work again in the kiosk (and the store) in order to get more hours. Mini was thrilled, because she had a hard time last year finding reliable workers who would stay throughout the season or, at times, simply not bother to show up for work! And this year, unfortunately for Ms. Mini, proved to be the same. I was working at Ye Olde Ham Stand a couple of weeks ago when Mini called me, sounding frazzled and ready to pull her hair out, to share that two workers who were roommates (one whose last name is Pigg – I kid you not) had decided to jump ship and peel out of CO for somewhere in the South in search of work. Mini wondered if I might be able to pick up some more shifts. Absolutely was my cash-strapped reply!
So for the last couple weeks, I’ve been working at multiple grocery store Ham Land kiosks throughout the Denver metro area, along with several shifts at the increasingly busy and frantic Ham Land store. One of the grocery stores is located in Golden CO, which is at the opposite end of the earth, or at least Denver, from where I live. This means that I work for the first hour to pay for the commuting gas, especially for a directionally challenged person like myself who could not for the life of me find the store on my first or even second attempt, in spite of mapquesting and map googling and actual map reading! It didn’t help that it had been snowing for several hours early in the morning before I left and the roads were perilously slippery, especially for my Barney the Honda Civic and its balding tires! Golden is located in the mountain foothills and is home of Coors brewery, which I circled several times in my first futile and frustrating attempts to find the grocery store. I finally located the store, after navigating several icy and confusing traffic circles – wondering again what city planner thought these circles were a good traffic flow idea. Once safely in the store, I texted my Pops/Fast Eddie, aka as my Dad, who occasionally likes to enjoy a frosty malt beverage, sharing I was in Golden where the brewery is located. Fast Eddie suggested, with one of his witty one liners, that maybe I should take a beer break instead of a coffee break – probably not a good idea
One day I was working a double shift (thanks to the sudden departure of Mr. Pigg and his roomie!) in the Golden store when across the aisle another demo person began setting up a booth. Great, I thought to myself, a fellow demo schlepping comrade with whom I can swap stories! It turns out the new demo guy was going to be hawking sausages, and once he began sizzling them up the aroma was tantalizing! However, instead of a new pal to crack jokes with, Mr. Sausage Man turned out to be Mr. Schmucky Salesman. And by the end of what turned out to be a seemingly endless work day, I literally wanted to strangle him! Schmucky’s sale’s spiel went something like this: Schmucky, in a booming voice leaning forward with a leer and looking like he might actually pluck the customer out of the aisle, “Have you ever tried such and such sausages? They’re Soooooo GOOOOD!!! Uhghaaaa (a loud exhale noise). Most, to my surprise, customers were drawn into this forward affront with only a few making some mumbling excuses and scurrying away. Schmucky would then go on to rattle off the four varieties of sausage available and then shout “How about a little Italian?” in a very bad Italian accent, followed by “I’m a little Italian” then riotously laughing at how amusing he thought himself.
On of his other schticks went like this: Schmucky: “Hey! (again unnecessarily loud, exaggerated voice) Look at the Ham Lady over there!” The customer would then quickly swivel their head toward me and give me a quizzical look, while Schmucky would dump a package of sausage into their shopping cart. When the customer’s head would swivel back, Schmucky, with his hands knotted behind his back, bobbing his head back and forth and leaning back on his heels, would boom “Doo Doo Doo Doo” until the unsuspecting customer realized they’d been duped. Honestly, it was enough to make you throw up! And he used the same spiel, over and over and over – the same corny lines and silly bits with EVERY SINGLE customer. After a few hours of this, I wanted to scream, followed by wishing him serious bodily injury.
Later that week, after ridding myself of thoughts of Schmucky and my blood pressure returning to normal, I spent a few days working in the Ham Land store, which was swamped with customers wanting endless amounts of sandwiches, which we make fresh in the store, and hams to bring to holiday parties and gift cards and wanting to place orders for holiday hams. After working seven long days in a row, I was exhausted and stopped at the convenience store next to Ham Land to pick up some TP, too tired to navigate a large grocery store. The clerk asked me “How are you?” Me: “Tired. It’s been a long day.” Clerk: “Where do you work?” Me: “Ham Land. Right next door.” Clerk: “You know, you smell like ham.” Me: Dead silence. Great, I thought, as I practically bolted out of the store. Lovely. I smell like ham. Fabulous. Just fabulous. When I posted this exchange on Facebook, my FP peeps found it amusing. “I think he was hitting on you,” one peep said, “in a kind of Dragons and Dungeons kind of way.”
This week I’ve done three back-to-back double grocery store Ham Land kiosk shifts, which makes me feel a bit like Tom Hank’s character in the movie “The Terminal http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0362227/ where his character he gets detained in an airport and lives there for several months. However, instead of befriending flight attendants and airport personnel, my buds are the workers in the meat department, the coffee shop, the delivery people and even the Salvation Army bell ringers constantly perched in the front of the store, who I do give my spare change to every now and then! I guess there are worse places you could be holed up in, I mean there is plenty of food of course. And even if you ran out of money, there’s freebie samples aplenty.
One day, as I was helping myself to a free sample size cup of Loaded Baked Potato soup, I heard a guy yell “Hey Ham Chick!” I paused and turned around to see a Deli Worker Guy looking at me expectantly. I paused, a little befuddled. “What did you call me?” I said in a bit of disbelief. Now I have been called the Ham Lady by some of the grocery store personnel, and I’m ok with that. But honestly – Ham Chick?! Later my Uncle Steve said that at my age I should be happy to still be called a chick. Hmmmm.
It’s time for this Ham Chick to wrap up this blog and get ready for more adventures in Ham Land!
Lisa, Talented and Professional Ham Chick and PR Girl