Grocery Culture and Cody Comes Home

brenda-works-at-ralphs

I really should make this two posts because what does grocery culture have to do with Cody but if I took the time to write two posts I probably wouldn’t finish the second one. So I’m going to jam it all together and hopefully, you feel like you’re getting a deal. Two posts for the price of one! I know. Whatever Brenda. Just get to it already.

Every hour on the hour when I’m working as a courtesy clerk at Ralphs I push a broom around the floor, up and down every aisle. It takes me about sixteen minutes to sweep the entire store. I’m pretty much just pushing dirt around the store with a big wide broom that takes turns surprisingly well. It’s kind of fun actually and I pride myself on my efficiency in keeping the small pile of debris relatively under control. Sometimes I lose a bit in the turns but I know I’ll be back the next hour like a cuckoo clock to catch it again.

I compose blog posts in my mind as I go. I think maybe I’ll blog about that dinosaur sticker that is stuck to the floor in the deli section that has been stuck there for two weeks. Or maybe I’ll blog about the morning stocking crew and their lively choices of music. I love it. It’s a party in the early morning hours at the grocery store. One aisle is rocking 80’s power ballads while the next is jamming to R&B. Everyone says good morning and hello as I pass by them in the aisles, dodging towering piles of toilet paper or teetering boxes of cans that are stacked up to be unloaded. It’s just a lively bunch.

I also think about blogging about the state of the linoleum floor that is breaking into bits. Every day I sweep another inch away into the trash can. The floors are a mess. Does anyone notice? What’s the state of the grocery store’s budget for repairing these things? The store seems to be run pretty lean and there are a ton of improvements needed but nobody ever says anything about them. But I never ask either because we are all overworked and no one has time for such questions. It’s always a state of either being slammed or “if you have time to lean you better clean.” Everything needs cleaning all the time.

I love the grocery store. One of the rules of being employed there is that you have to smile and say hello to everyone. At first, I hated it because I’m naturally shy and I never want to be that overly chipper person annoying people. But then I learned about the secret shopper system and if you don’t say hi to the person who is the secret shopper you can get docked and the whole team loses their rights to a pizza party or something. It’s a big deal. So we all say hi all the time. We say hello, good morning, how are you… We’re just a chatty bunch. And you know what happens? It rubs off on you. You can go to the store in a bad mood but after an hour of saying hello over and over with a smile, you start feeling genuinely cheerful. By the time I leave my shift I’m the chattiest person there. And I kind of love it because all the conversations are short and funny. There’s no prying into deeper personal matters. No gossip. Just friendly hellos and funny quips all day long. The grocery business is onto something.

I don’t know who the secret shopper is but I’m dying to find out if I’ve ever said hello to them. I’m pretty sure I’m not the one who gets the pizza party privilege taken away.

codys-home

In other news: Cody came to live with me! Payam was getting a little overwhelmed with having two dogs. Cody can eat a lot AND he has so much fur. He’s a lot of work. I’ve missed my dogs terribly and I know they miss me too so when Payam asked me to take Cody I was super happy to oblige. I was a little worried my apartment complex wouldn’t allow a big dog like Cody but after some investigation, we were approved! Don’t ask me about the pet deposit though. It’s robbery. I guess they know a big dog can do some big damage to a small apartment.

So far the hair is manageable. I bought a new special pet-approved vacuum and we’re doing our best to keep his paws clean when he comes in from a walk. I don’t think I’ll keep my white carpets white but on the upside, it is awfully cheery to have a big fluffy white dog to keep you company all day long. I might as well buy stock in a lint roller company and call it a win.

We love having him and I think he loves being here. He really is a good only dog and I hear Whiskey is living it up being an only dog too.

I’m still alive!

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I’m still here I promise! I just got clobbered with too much work. I’ve been gasping for air whenever I can but that leaves no room for extras like blogging.  I was desperate for work so I asked everyone I knew and it all came flying in. Feast or famine! But I’m very thankful. As long as I keep the pipeline full I’ll be able to pay my bills. Them’s the breaks for a freelancer. You can never really relax. But you also can drum up work pretty easily when things get lean.

First off, I finished my first beginning sewing class in the Fashion Design certificate program I’m going for at our local community college. It was super easy and I aced it. I can now make totes, aprons and pajama pants from memory. If you’re family, that’s what you can expect for Christmas.

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Did I tell you about the courtesy clerk job at Ralphs? It was such a social experiment for me. While I loved it, it quickly became clear that it was way too hard on my body for way too few dollars. I’ve been exhausted every day after my shift and found it nearly impossible to sit at my desk and continue my regular work that actually pays the bills. No Bueno. I put in my two-week notice and my last day is November 10th. I’m kinda sad to leave because I loved it. I love the people. I love chatting to customers in quick little non-commital snippets as they go through the checkout line. I love working so hard that I don’t have to think about working out and I can eat anything I like and still lose weight. It was really fun. But it also was really physically demanding and I know it’s only a matter of time before I injure myself. Lifting heavy pumpkins from counter height to a cart and then lowering them at an awkward angle was just asking for another Dr. Pepper ice pack necessitating back spasm. I don’t want to go through that again. So I’m cutting my losses and saying goodbye. But I’m also leaving on good terms in case I ever get another itch to work blue-collar again. There is something super satisfying about clocking in an honest day of hard work.

in-la-with-matt

Things with Matt are still going really well. (Would I tell you if they weren’t? Nope.) But they are good. We had a really fun weekend in LA with trips to LACMA and Nobu where I tried wagyu beef for the very first time. I had NO IDEA steak could taste like bacon and drippy popcorn butter at the same time. It was mind-blowing. No wonder it costs so much. Definitely a treat I won’t be having regularly. I do like being spoiled though. The weekend was over so quickly. Now I’m anxiously looking forward to our next trip. Long-distance relationships are tricky but they do have their perks.

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Back at home Autumn has been showing up and showing out. I LOVE October so much! It’s so pretty. Just when it seemed like summer was going to last forever it got delightfully chilly. It’s been lovely to sit on my patio and sip hot chocolate, wear sweaters and cuddle up in a blanket. The sunrises have been amazing. I’m so glad I’m a morning person and I can catch them by the lake.

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This one really killed it. It didn’t even look like much until I got up to the lake and focused on the reflection. Reflections make my happy bells go off. What is it? Do our minds love symmetry? I don’t know but give me a pretty view and add a reflection and I’ll get you a better picture.

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I love my morning walks. They offset the madness that is the rest of my life. I can’t go on them daily while I’m still working at Ralphs (my early shift starts at 5 am) but I squeeze at least two in a week. They are the reason I’m feeling good.

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Next up are all the concerts we’ve been going to. No wonder I’m feeling ragged! You can’t get up early like a workaholic and then stay up late and party like a rockstar too. Not good for you! But it was fun.

harry-styles-concert-love-on-tour

First I dragged Bug to Harry Styles. She is not a fan but she humored me. I got really good tickets which was a nice surprise. I’m used to the nosebleeds. All those canceled events in 2020 are finally paying off in credits for new shows.

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It was a great show. Harry truly is a showman. All the girls screaming around us kinda made it hard to hear anything. My ears were ringing for hours afterward. But it was worth it. It was a lively event and I’ll always remember the fun it all was. I love that people can still be playful and lighthearted in a heavy heavy world.

getting-ready-for-the-garden-concert

Two nights later it was Bug’s turn to take me to see one of her favorite bands: The Garden. I’m not a fan. There are a few songs I like but the rest sounds like trash cans being banged together to me. But since she suffered through a pop concert for me, I can sit through a punk concert for her.  It was also lively and fun. I loved people-watching. Everyone had make-up on like Bug. She’s found her people.

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We took this shot at a church nearby the Fox Theatre where The Garden was playing. It was black and white and reminded me of a very very humble and small version of the Duomo in Florence.

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Then inside the theatre, it was chaos. Black and white jester-faced chaos.

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I got to explore the theatre which is like many old theatres: full of really cool art deco details and pretty staircases that lead to abandoned back rooms. I’m surprised it was open as much as it was. Inside the tower was a room that looked like a VIP room with velvet couches and pillows… but it was completely dark. I got up the guts to go inside and turn on my phone flashlight but the extremely high ceiling kinda gave me agoraphobia.

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That’s pretty much it for October. I haven’t been able to do all the fun fall things we usually do because I’m a working woman and I have no time for domesticity. But I do have high hopes for November!