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So you've decided to become a Meijer utility worker.

You poor bastard. You will now suffer the wrath of team leaders, managers, and worst of all, consumers, for a pay that amounts to little more than peanuts. The Meijer utility worker/bagger is the lowest form of life along with janitorial staff. Consider what follows a fair warning to the duties you are now expected to perform, but by no means hold me accountable for anything cruel and unusual that should occur to you that is not listed below.

  • Bagging:

    The most common duty (until all the stores eventually switch over to cashier-bagging methods) you will be expected to fulfill. There are two standard types of bags, plastic and paper, as well as several other spiffy containers offered seasonally or with a promotion.

    • Plastic:

      By far the most convenient for bagger and customer use, although some customers will deny this and encourage you to use paper, the devils. If a customer has an especially large order (the kind of order that is heaped up far beyond the walls of the cart) items bagged in plastic are the easiest with which to attempt to fit everything back into said cart. Plastic bags, contrary to the thoughts of those who believe in paper, are also easiest on the customer, since they have handles, unlike paper. Two 2-liter bottles fill a plastic bag nicely, as do eight to ten cans, four large cereal boxes, and six or so twenty ounce pop bottles.

    • Paper:

      A general pain in the ass. Requests for paper are often followed by a voice in my head that says "then you can do it yourself." If a customer places their items on the belt with cold/frozen things, cans, produce and "crushables" such as chips and bread, and boxes all in their seperate groups, paper isn't actually that bad. Honestly though, how many customers place their things on the belt like that? You're deluding yourself if you think its more than one in six hundred. If you do it properly so that cold remains with cold and no crushables are crushed, and the customer isn't the one in six hundred, paper will be your worst enemy. It will be your arch nemesis if the customer asks you to double bag in paper. Enough said.

    • Giant opaque red or black bags:

      These are usually only seen around the holidays when parents santa is buying tons of junk for the little kiddies. Not really a hassel, unless you have to hunt them down among the twenty five or so lanes. These also rip very easily, so although you may be tempted to toss miscellaneous toys in there, a jagged edge of a toy dump truck or hanger just might tear a gigantic gash in the edge. Proceed with caution.

    • Wine Carriers:

      Whoever came up with these little beauties is my personal hero. Although they can be harder to track down than the black or red bags in the middle of a christmas rush, they are worth the effort. Instead of wrapping each individual bottle of wine or liquor in paper towel that you would love to guzzle to kill your pain, you simply unfold the caddy, and slip a bottle into each spot.

  • Cart Pusher:

    Also known as cart bitch. Rather self explanatory, really. You will be expected to wear a day-glo safety vest with the Meijer logo on the back. You will also be equipped with a cart rope, and if you take the training course, you may also get the cart machine every now and again. The cart machine is a handy dandy device used to safely push up to twenty carts at a time with little effort on your part. Aside from pushing carts, you will also be expected to sweep up broken glass, return items that customers may have forgotten on the bottom of carts to the service desk, and clean up trash.

    • Cart Ropes:

      Usually a length of yellow nylon rope with an "s" hook on each end, one generally bigger than the other. Helps increase the speed at which you can push carts, as you can push up to ten carts safely with it. Without the cart rope, you should push no more than three at a time. Heh. Who really follows that? I haven't used my cart rope in months, and we all know i'm not going to push a scant three at a time.

    • Cart Machine:

      Hard to describe unless you've seen the thing. It's basically a self-propelled machine with a cart attatched to the front. Although it can be ran without a remote, doing so requires more than one person and isn't nearly as fun. The remote comes equipped with all the features you'd expect to find that turn it in different directions, as well as a spiffy little horn. The horn sounds quite similar to a car horn...I trust no one would ever misuse it for humorous purposes rather than those related to safety. Once again, the cart machine can safely push up to twenty carts. I have seen certain individuals that may or may not be my friends push fourty with it.

  • Service Runner:

    You are now everyone's bitch. If a customer grabbed a wrong item for a sale and wants the correct one, or if something is leaking, gouged, rotting, or is just plain unwanted, the cashier waiting on the customer will turn their light to flashing or page you. The page will generally be something along the lines of "service runner to lane 17", although the service desk may also call upon you to return something. These are your signals to get your ass in gear and answer the page/light. The cashier will hand you the item for return, or specify what item is needed. In cases of broken eggs, leaking milk, or opened hot dog packages, there is usually a designated spot (the dairy case) where it is returned for company write off. The customer may or may not want a replacement. Although you are everyone's bitch, and you will fully realize this during a super saturday sale, it is in many bagger's opinion the most coveted duty, as it allows for a constant change of activity and you don't have to bag for customers all damn day.

  • Minor Duties:

    None of these generally take more than a half hour. Sometimes assigned as busy work when the authority doesn't want you to be paid for doing nothing.

    • Bathrooms:

      Contrary to popular belief, it isn't usually that bad. You'll need a roll of paper towels, a squirt bottle of glass cleaner/sanitizer, a broom, and a dustpan. Sweep the floors, wipe off the soap and dirt gunk on the sinks, and spray the mirrors with the cleaner and make 'em sparkly. Toilet paper may have to be changed, in which case the key to open the containers is usually obtained from the service coordinator (the person who assigns duties to cashiers and baggers). Unless you have to clean the remains of someone's mexican food from floor, toilet, walls, and hell, maybe even ceiling, the bathrooms aren't too bad. If you are called upon to clean up the remains of someone's mexican food and you can't somehow pawn the job off on someone else, grab the rubber gloves and swallow your pride.

    • Entryways:

      Grab a broom and dustpan, and sweep 'em up. If you are also asked to mop the area, place a couple saftey cones and mop away.

    • Trash:

      • Bullets:

        Change the bags of all the bullet trash cans if they are three quarters or more full. Out of common courtesy, try to remember to double bag. No one wants a burst trash bag to spill trash spooge all over them.

      • Outside Trash:

        Same as bullets, except with the trash cans outside the entryway doors. Can be hard if you don't have a lot in the muscle area (like me) and the trash is full to bursting. In cases such as this, the bag kind of gets vaccumed in the can, and you may want to employ the help of someone out pushing carts.

      • Lane Trash:

        Done one of two ways. Obtain a large empty trash bag. You can either place this in a cart or drag it behind you. If you choose to drag it, beware of it bursting half way through. Simply go along to each lane, emptying the cashier's trash into the bag. When finished, tie it off and place it with the rest of the trash.

    • Merchandise and Pharmacy bags:

      Coveted more than service runner. Go get a cart and go along to every lane, gathering the pharmacy bags and merchandise left in the baskets at the end of each lane. Return to service desk for some other poor bastard to sort out. Things such as bread and perishables should not end up in the merchandise, although they often do. Either take 'em back to their respective places in the grocery aisles or have the service runner do it, since it's technically their job anyways...

    Thats about it as far as bagging/utility work goes. Sometimes you may get a sadistic S.O.B service coordinator who will find other busy work for you, in which case I expect you'll do the upstanding Meijer Team Member thing: go find someplace safe to hide.

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