A Salute To Kroger #399, My Ex-Workplace

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)

Swag Cab in the parking lot

Of all the film photographs I’ve taken, this one is my favorite. In my parking space and in uniform, no less.

Kroger #399

Display on National 8-Track Day
Unfortunately no customers noticed my little display for National 8-Track Day.

Street Photography in parking lot

A friend of mine who worked in Meat & Seafood heading back from break.
One of several little rubber dinosaurs were hidden around the Bakery by myself and one coworker, hidden high on a fire alarm. I took them with me on my last day.
Late Photographs (August, September)
My favorite manager, hands down.
The back room of the Bakery almost always appeared this messy. Cake kit ordering was discontinued that day in preparation for the new store, and the order binder is on the floor just right of center.
The Bakery, looking unusually clean.

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The same coworker from the parking lot shot earlier at a Friday night D&D session. I was testing out my then new to me Sony Mavica in dark conditions.
This guy made the whole thing worth it. Kroger would have been a living hell when the drama was full blast if it hadn’t been for him. He reintroduced me to roleplaying, and here he’s making an ability check that same Friday night.
The newest store manager (at center) was a funny guy. If you asked him for a thermonuclear explosive device to help combat files, he would ask if you were willing to sign a waiver for it without batting an eye. Dry, deadpan humor. The old coffee machine is at far right.
Our freezer. Until the last few weeks, it was always disorganized.

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The Deli in its usual bustle.
A coworker (the one who helped hide dinosaurs) taking care of chicken shop.
Sushi shop, with the new coffee machine on the right ⅓ mark.
Drink at your own risk. STRONG. It could wake the dead, no joke.
Taking a cake order.
The pharmacy drive-thru between downpours.

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I’m glad that I never had to tend to the wet floors.

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Last Day (Sept. 8, 2016)
An unfortunately poor photo of my farewell cake. They usually only make these for people who have been with the company for years and are retiring. I guess I was doing something right.
Made another setup on my last day. Went a little more ‘all in’ on this one. The 1929 Royal Portable I won the speed typing competition with makes a public appearance. Few seemed to notice.
End of my last day. Melancholy.

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Kroger #399’s Final Hour (Oct. 4th, 2016; 4:30-5:02 pm)

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You know it’s bad when the Little Debbie stand is empty.

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The time clock. The only physical thing that I would be guaranteed to interact with every day at work.

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With the atmosphere in the store at the time, I couldn’t help but feel that these two high-up store managers were going down with the ship.
Sentimentally parked in my parking space one last time.

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.

 

-T1peM0nkey

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