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Picking Up Armpit Steaks For the Man: Telling a Story For “Burned” At the Moth

October 31st, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

Ever notice that when you’re checking out at a grocery store a few cuts below Whole Foods, all the cashiers and baggers are asking each other the same thing?

What time you going on break? When you getting off today?

That’s because working as a cashier and bagger at a grocery store SUCKS. Like any other job that secretly sucks, it’s not the work itself that’s the problem. It’s the other people. It’s the other people, and all that stuff in between the cracks of the job description that nobody tells you about but everybody deals with.

I worked as a bagger at a Food Lion in Norfolk, Virginia for a few summers during high school and college. Calling a bagger a “bagger” is like calling a garbage man a “truck driver.” The job title describes a skill set that’s technically crucial but utterly irrelevant once your face is right in the steaming stink of things.

Not everyone in the neighborhood had indoor plumbing. A lot of ‘em were walking around with bad plumbing, too, and it was well known that the restroom was open to the public. I kept it pretty clean, most of the time.

I regularly broke up fights between winos right there in the store. And I was expected to help run down and detain shoplifters. That part was hard for me.

I told a story about working at that Food Lion onstage at Southpaw back in March at a Moth Slam. It seemed to go over pretty well, anyway. I felt comfortable and the laughs felt right:

Hope you enjoy it, more to come soon.

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