From December 2015 to September 2016 I was a Deli/Bakery associate at the local Kroger Food & Pharmacy, and it was easily the most frustrating job I’ve ever had. For the first few weeks as closer I had almost no idea what I was doing because I’d had one night of training! My manager was actually out to get me as confirmed by several sources and seemingly made every attempt to make my life difficult. In those early days every time I came in the floor was covered in icing to the extent that it looked like there had been a snowball fight with the stuff, but over time I got better and figured out what they wanted me to do. Whenever I got on top of things they would just add more to do nightly.
On top of that, Kroger wouldn’t accept my availability despite being part time and able to dictate my schedule (according to the union rep). As a result, I could never get in to the Piano Company regularly on the days that I requested. There was a somewhat underhanded attempt at transferring me out of the department (that same manager) that the union rep squashed. Those were the days when I was caught in the Kroger Catch 22. There was too much to do by myself without another person, but had to get out on time. I told them that either I was staying late and getting everything done or leaving on time and leaving things for the morning people, and neither of those would do. To which I replied,”I’ll need another person at night, then, or that’s not going to work.”
I’ve been told that they knew this but continued doing what they were doing anyway.
The whole situation was massively frustrating for a period of nine months. The only upside and really the only reason I stayed for that long was that I enjoyed my coworkers immensely. I made close ties with some of them, but we were all amicable and had each other’s backs when needed. That was the sole thing keeping me there outside of pay.
I put in my two weeks notice, last day being on September 9th. Luckily the schedule worked out so that my last day was September 8th, a Sunday I think. Two weeks after I left the store closed permanently and moved to the new location down the street, which I wanted to avoid working at for several reasons. When I walked out my last day, it got real for me. I wasn’t working with those people anymore, and I wouldn’t see them nearly as frequently as I used to. They also made me a wonderful cake with a typewriter on it.
On Tuesday October 4th the store closed at 5:00pm and the new store opened its doors to the family and friends of associates. I made sure to be there and document the closing of the 35 year-old store (the newest decor was about 23 years old), bringing along my Nikon Nikkormat FTn loaded with Kodak Tri-X B&W negative film pushed from ISO 400 to 800. I polished off the roll, and the results were surprisingly decent.
This post is a tribute to my old Kroger store, my coworkers (the people who made it not entirely suck),and the memories I have and we shared. These pictures were taken on a combination of an iPhone 6, a Sony Mavica FD-71, and my Nikkormat FTn.
Early Photographs (April, March 2016)
Late Photographs (August, September)
Last Day (Sept. 8, 2016)
Kroger #399’s Final Hour (Oct. 4th, 2016; 4:30-5:02 pm)
For what it was Kroger was a good experience. I’m a better and wiser person because of it, but I sure wouldn’t do it again! The people I worked with made this bearable, and the in-jokes we had kept us all going. They all miss me and I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss them. I’ve moved on and my store is officially dead.
To all of my old coworkers: Keep on trucking.