The Retail Diet

When I worked at Wal-Mart for the last time, some ten years ago now, my diet was pretty terrible. I believe I once compared it to eating like a racoon raiding a dumpster. I drank a lot of soda, ate a lot of fast food, Hot Pockets and microwavable beef stew being the extent of my cooking. By the time I quit that gig, I had cut down on the soda drinking, but that was about it.

After I quit, I made some dietary improvements, mainly by actually cooking meals instead of microwaving whatever I could find and making soda and fast food a rarity. And I managed to continue with this for the next ten years or so, despite the different day jobs, even while holding three day jobs at once, and even while technically working in retail.

But doing floorset isn’t the same as working retail. I wasn’t dealing with customers on top of resetting an entire store; I was just doing a lot of folding, rearranging, and swearing. Working retail means dealing with customers while trying to put up freight, answer the phone, and keep the store in order. It means walking two to six miles during any given shift and never leaving the store. It means having registers crash during busy times, people calling in and leaving you to work a Saturday shift alone for several hours, listening to customers say the same things over and over again thinking they’re the first to be so clever. It means answering the same questions over and over again, listening to the same complaints over and over again, and holding your tongue during both.

In short, retail can be (and currently is for me) a high-stress, low-wage job.

And it kills my eating habits.

In the past few months of my new retail day job, I’ve drunk more soda and eaten more junk food than I have in years. I’ve craved soda and junk food more in the past few months than I have in the past ten years. Working retail triggers in me the need for a garbage diet that I might be able to get away with in my twenties, but not when I’m pushing forty. Yet, here I am, despite all wisdom, going right back to it.

I’m guessing the combination of stress and anxiety is the trigger for me here. I can’t say that I’m much of an emotional eater. However, I think that the stress/anxiety combo wears me out to the point that my willpower is gone and I’m too tired to care about what I’m ingesting. That’s definitely how it feels. It’s not a particularly healthy mindset, but it’s hard to maintain one when all of my energy is focused on getting through another shift. It leaves little energy for the effort of making good choices.

Right now I’m struggling with it. I can only hope that the stress recedes soon (the anxiety, I don’t think, ever will) and gives me a break that doesn’t come in the form of a Kit Kat Bar.

Tales From the Day Jobs: Father’s Day

As should be established through my babblings by now, writing full-time is my ultimate goal, but right now a day job pays the bills. I’ve had a few jobs in my time: fast food, retail, credit union, and currently, a transportation company. I’m one of those people who likes to have a good time no matter what I’m doing. Work is no exception. Thankfully, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a several like minded people. Between my co-workers and the customers, I’ve racked up quite a few entertaining stories, all in the name of surviving the grind.

And because I have no shame, I thought a good Friday feature would be to share a few of those stories from time to time. Prepare yourselves accordingly.

During my last stint in retail I worked as a jewelry sales coordinator. At the time my departement featured a “gift wall”, mostly filled with ceramic statues and jewelry boxes. The items changed depending on the holiday, but my department typically didn’t get anything for Father’s Day. However, an assistant manager asked me to clear a two foot section of my wall to fill with good gift items for Dad.

Since this was a weekend project, I ended up acquiring help from a couple of people from different departments that didn’t have as much going on. Our collaboration resulted in some obvious items: wallets, caps, tackle boxes, flashlights, golf balls-very stereotypical stuff. And then, as a joke on the assistant manager (because he was our favorite assistant to torment), we added boxes of condoms, neatly placed along side everything else.

Struggling to maintain straight faces, we called the manager over to inspect our work. He declared it adequate and that was it. He didn’t notice the condoms.

So the jooke changed. We left the condoms on the gift wall to see who would notice them.

Nobody of authority did. We kept waiting for someone to notice but no one said anything, much to our amusement.

The Monday following the holiday, everything left on the gift wall went back to its proper departments, condoms included.

Happy Father’s Day, indeed.