My Phone Is Smarter Than Your Phone

Well, let me just clarify: my phone is super intelligent.  It’s not because I have a super cool brand or the latest of the latest or some super secret prototype made by the Chinese government.  It’s because I feed it knowledge to assist me in my everyday needs.  And in turn my very well-educated phone became super intelligent, like me!  I can’t help it my phone is smarter than yours.  I really can’t, I’m sorry.  Maybe if you were a better owner and took it for walks or showed it some attention now and then it would learn something.

My phone loves me so much.  Just today it taught me some very insightful things about the food I eat.  Not just when I get it home but before I even buy it at the store.  Let me tell you a story:

So here I am slaving away at work, all of a sudden the big voice in the building calls for all cashiers to come to the front to assist with the huge line snaking around the store.  Of course I head up to help (as a good employee would).  I get “stuck” up front helping for over an hour.  Now I’m a fast cashier but these people kept coming and coming.  I swore they were just showing up because they all heard I was ringing today.

Anyway, I had this one customer that brought his daughter with him to shop.  She was being such a great help to him as his fat ass watched her unload the grocery cart.  It took forever!!!!!  She took at least a minute to place each item on the belt.  As she placed each item on the belt she would say a letter.  I was a bit confused but I was also preoccupied because I just wanted to not stand there in my most uncomfortable steel toed boots.  There goes another box and she says “B-“.  I was trying to think of a way to ask the dad what she was doing and not sound like I was peeved at her taking so long.

Finally after the millionth item I was done with them.  The girl came over to stand next to dad.  I looked down at her and asked “what was with all the alphabet stuff?”  She held up a smart phone and proceeded to tell me about this app she was using…..

Ohhhhh, an app!

“OK, now we are talkin.  What app were you using” I asked.

She mumbled something then just showed me her phone.

fooducated

unnamed

The app she was using is called Fooducate.  Now, just so you know I don’t get anything from anyone if I tout this awesome app. This is just me giving an opinion.  I don’t want to go on and on about what all this app can do.  You can see for yourself at their site HERE.

I spent most of the night after work grading my pantry by scanning all the stuff in there.  Then I attacked the refrigerator.  I had some interesting finds.  Some things were the total opposite that I thought.  But over all I believe my fridge and pantry averaged a “B+” to an “A-“.  I had a few items that dragged my grade down but who doesn’t?

So my bolgyblog friends, if you want to educate your phone as well as yourself, I suggest you check this cool app out and possibly add it to your healthy living toolbox.

Oh, almost forgot…..best part about this app…..IT’S FREE!!!!

Happy scanning my friends.

The First Dilemma Of The New Year

First of all, Happy New Year to everyone!

The year 2012 ended with me being perplexed.  Every department in the commissary had to do a monthly inventory on top of lowering everyone’s work hours.  In my eyes this led to a major breakdown in function, at least in the produce department.  But that wasn’t the major issue that hit me the last day of 2012.  Without naming names or getting too close to divulging too much information, I will tell you my story.

The work day began approximately 15 minutes to 3PM (I do a lot of free work).  I walked through the produce back door and the boss was ecstatic to see me.  Lets just say I saw the reason and the huge mess in front of me.  The mess was not the perplexing issue nor was the fact that there was only one employee there for the past 2 hours prior to me showing up.

One of the problems walks in 10 minutes late like usual, if not later on other days.  It just so happens it is a love interest of the person that has been the only one in the department most of the day by themself. 

The rest of the crew showed up on time and the boss gave us all our “missions” on the fly.  Needless to say I had the main mission to save his butt.  Our one receiver in the morning rarely does their job to any extent.  And usually leaves the bulk of the work for those of us that come in later in the day.  Fair, unfair, does it really matter?  This person is a well entrenched government employee and it would take an act of God to get rid of him/her.  My mission if I chose to accept it or not was to get things squared a way in our 3 back rooms and ready for the boss’s boss to help with our inventory that night.  This meant; it better look like it has always been well-kept and organized.  If the big boss only knew…..

So on to my real issue……the love birds.

I have found myself tested with ethics and morals in most of my past jobs but this issue seems to be a tough one.  It actually involves two people.  The other past issues only involved one person and it was usually someone I didn’t care what happened to based on the situation I was put into.  This one is a different kind of issue.

The set up…

Our first back room is a “cooler” (kept at a temp range of 45-55 degrees).  This room has a prep table, 3 tub sink, ice machines, scales and at price label maker along with storage area for produce that can be kept safe at these temps.  Our second back room is a refrigerator (a bit more nippy in there than the cooler), about 90% of our stock goes in there and of course that is where I have to do the brunt of my work. 

So by 4PM I pretty much did the work of what 3 other people couldn’t accomplish in their 8 hour shifts.  So I took a short water break in the cooler to drink some water (along with warm up a bit) and overview the mess in that room.  I was behind a pallet of bananas looking at how I was going to shove 40 lbs of crap in a space that will hold 5 on this shelf, then I start hearing someone setting up our price labeler.   Huh, this is odd……we didn’t have anything on our prep table to be marked down.  And no one ever does their own work, they always leave it for someone else to do. 

I peer around the bananas and see one of our own printing a label but nothing around to price, odd…..

Then this person walked into the refrigerator and came out 2 minutes later without the label or anything else, odd….

I thought nothing more of it since I still had some back-breaking lifting to do.  Back to throwing 40 lb boxes of bananas and 50 lb bags of potatoes around.

As other employees come back to refill their carts of goodies to put on the produce line I talk and joke with each person.  Then one comes back out to tell me a secret.  “Mike come here, I want to show you something….”  I was waiting to be hit over the head with some styrofoam once I walked through the door or something but no.  “Mike, look on that shelf.  What do you see?”

There was a ready-made salad (that we sell a ton of) with one of our price labels on it, hmm odd…….

We don’t do that unless we are trying to get rid of it 1 to 2 days prior to expiration date.  I didn’t even have to touch it to know it was nowhere near expiring since we have been keeping inventory down for our up coming count.  That and it would automatically be put on an ice table on the sales floor.

I’m still not thinking clearly like I am now about anything that I just put together.  So don’t yell at me for not doing something just yet.

Yes, you are right…it does add up to bad.  But still no one did anything wrong, yet.  Nothing was stolen, nothing was paid for, etc, etc.  Plus; here’s the kicker, we are not even sure what do about it anyway.

So, long long story short.  I finally took a break after everyone else had theirs, I go to the break room.  I sit down and lay my head down.  In walks the love birds.  WTH!!!!!  They have already had their breaks and over their allotted time might I add.  I know this because a fellow employee likes to keep track of the time people spend on breaks.  This is the same person that noticed the marked down salad.  Which made another appearance in the break room!!!!  In the hands of not the one that marked it down but the love interest, hmmmm interesting.

So here is where I’m at.  I saw something without actually seeing something.  I saw something else but couldn’t prove it was the thing I saw to begin with.  And now because I didn’t say anything then nothing can be done if anything could have ever been done.

I know I can’t go by what someone else says but according to this person that originally tipped me off about this said this happens almost every night.  To give you an idea this salad sells for around $5.  It was marked down to $1.25.

My boss is already in hot water and losing all this extra money to these individuals doing whatever it is they are doing (call it what you will) I want to protect him and the store. 

What do I do? Should I still say something to the boss?  And how do I say it?

Let me add this….I know saying something to these two individuals will do no good.  It just won’t.

For Heaven’s Sake, Stop Squeezing the Avacados

And for that matter, stop throwing the apples around and dropping grapes on the floor, it’s making a terrible mess!

Tis the season to be jolly, fa-la-la-la-la la-la la la!

Yes, it’s me again.  Your friendly neighborhood sarcastic produce man.  I’m here today with your holiday produce tips.  Let me start off with a few that will be helpful to both you and I:

#1) Stay home!  It’s a mad house here!  There is no reason to be buying all this food for one day of gluttony.  You’re going to eat too much and explode.

#2) If you don’t heed my advice in tip #1, then be nice to the people around you while you’re out and about.  I had a hell of a time today trying to keep up with all you grabby grabs out there let alone getting to the holes on the line you left me.  If you see an empty spot on the produce line, that is not an invitation for you to park your keister there and block me from filling that spot back up.  And if I so happen to beat you to that spot to fill it back up, don’t be jamming your cart up my butt to try and make me move. I’m not going to.

I had this lady do exactly that today and after I took her third shot to the achilles she said she will try and be patient.  She actually said that out loud!  You’re damn right you’ll be patient.  I am much larger than you and I have access to your produce in the back room…..where you can’t see what I do…… 😉

Not 5 minutes later I had a really nice lady that just started talking with me.  She asked how my patience was doing today.  I said it was fine, how is yours?  She said it was at max capacity or she wouldn’t be out today.  If you don’t have any, you shouldn’t be out.  I told her if she showed me 1 other person with patience I would show her 50 without!  She laughed and wished me luck with the rest of my day.  I was joking but not really….

#3) If for some reason after tip #1 and #2 you still decide to come out and fill your basket up with tons of unnecessary amounts of food, follow this one please!!!!!!!  Don’t bring your damn kids with you!  But if you do, put them on a leash or tie them to something and keep them away from the apples and grapes!  Oh, and wash their freakin hands too, they’re filthy!  Last words of advice about your children……I push a large heavy cart around, while in the store I view children like squirrels and cats like when I’m driving a car, I don’t slow down for them!

#4)  For those of you that come in all holly jolly and singing your fancy holiday songs……STOP IT!  I am stuck in a building that plays that ish 24 hours a day and I’m already sick of hearing it.  Just like the question of, “Where’s the cranberry sauce?” right after you passed 3 large displays of that crap along with the two 2 pallets of it that you ran your cart into.  It’s in isle 12, good luck finding it in the dog food isle you crap happy holiday caroler!

#5)  Ok, now on to the serious stuff.  My advice to you is to make stuff from scratch.  Yes it will take longer but that gives you an excuse to not make 20 dishes of crap that Uncle Joe can’t have cause it either has too much salt in it or the pepper in it will give him gas.  No one needs that!

Keep it simple this year:

  • A nice sliced yam casserole
  • fresh steamed green beans or roasted brussel sprouts, skip the canned soup and greasy fried onions
  • homemade dressing made from toasted french bread/rosemary/thyme/sage/parsley/yellow onion/celery/and chicken broth. I plan on adding cranberries and orange zest to mine this year as well.
  • Start your meal off with either a nice light salad or a cup of butternut squash soup. This should eliminate that turkey hibernation factor at the end of the meal.  Less turkey=less hibernation…..or something like that.
  • And who says you need a whole turkey?  Mix it up this year, try just turkey legs or a turkey breast.  Why waste hours standing watch over a whole bird?  You know no one is gonna help you cook….make it easy on yourself.  It also leaves more time to enjoy more vino!
  • For desert make a nice fresh fruit salad.  This time of year citrus is the MacDaddy.  It not only keeps the troops lively for conversation after the meal but they won’t fall into a turkey coma watching football from the food, it will be the poor play of the teams that will do that!  Plus you get some vitamin C to ward off that flu and cold bug/virus thingy.
  • If the fam is crying cause of my desert menu, give them what they crave but without the crust.  Make a sweet potato or pumpkin custard.  Control their serving size by doing it in  individual ramekans.  That will teach them!!!
  • Last thing here.  For those snack attacks before the family meal, do a veggie tray.  If you don’t want to cut up your own veggies let the store do it.  We make them fresh to order.  They are pretty darn good when I make them.  But everything I do is pretty awesome anyway….

Well that should hold ya till I get the typing bug again.  If I don’t get to typing by next Thursday, I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your families.  Remember to give thanks for all the cool stuff you already possess and to make a shopping list of all the groovy things you want to be additionally thankful for next year.

Writing Disclaimer: I am not responsible for anything I type, ever!  The voices in my head made me do it…..But please feel free to share with all your friends and family cause some of what I type is funny as hell!  Well, at least worthy of a good giggle….

Tip Me…..Or Else!

Welcome to the next chapter in The Commissary Diaries.

I was just reminded of something I wanted to write about for some time now.  After my long day of stocking those darn bananas you all love I decided to exit by walking by the front end registers.  As I was leaving I walked past a hoard of baggers.  Everyone said hi.  I was so loved by them.  And why not, I made them a lot of money during my time up there. For those of you that are not military affiliated and don’t know about the bagger system I must explain about this interesting group.

The baggers at the commissary are not paid employees.  They only work off of tips given to them by the customers.  They have this strange system that seems to work.  Think of the bagger system as a mafia.  They have a leader that gets paid by taking a cut of each of the baggers take-in.  The leader does nothing more than assign the baggers to registers and keeps everyone rotated.  In order to stay a bagger one must work a minimum of three days a week.  Now to throw a kink in your understanding, there are specific morning shift baggers and specific evening baggers.  And you are not allowed to be both unless you are called in to do so.  The morning baggers are the retired military and spouses there of.  The night baggers are the students and current military wanting a little extra cash in their pockets.  Here’s the kicker…..its all tax-free $$$$.  They don’t report a dime!

OK, so now you are a little in the know of the system, back to my story.

As I was leaving this one bagger stops me to talk a little.  It’s my mailman.  Yup, you read that right, my mailman.  I didn’t know this until a few months ago when I saw him deliver while I was out cutting my lawn.  Anyway, he just wanted to tell me I got a package today.  (It was my new workout gear from UA!)  His telling me about this package made me remember a discussion he and I had during my last week as a cashier.  Here’s the story…..

A neighbor of mine came through my line ( a retired mil guy).  We talk and he recognizes my bagger as our mailman.  He says hi and blah blah blah..  My neighbor leaves and the mail-bagger and I get to talking.  He tells me my neighbor is a great guy.  “He always tips me well here and gives me a nice money filled envelope for the holidays on my mail route.”  I said huh?  “Oh yes, he gets a lot of packages that I deliver and he always gives me a lot of cash at the end of the year because of it.”  Wow, that’s nice.  I figured that was your job.?!.  “It is but it is common practice to tip your mailman if he ever delivers packages.”  Oh OK, I didn’t know that.  “It seems a lot of people don’t know this. A lot of your neighbors don’t tip especially So n’ So.  I think you have had a few come your way too.”

I wasn’t sure if he was joking with me or throwing me a hint.  But seeing how he comes back from some of his carry-outs and complains that he only got a few bucks I see that he is totally a money driven person.  So, it was probably a hint!  At the time though I couldn’t tell so I joked with him….

Oh, well I figured that my tax dollars that pay for your federal government job made me square with ya.

Needless to say, I didn’t receive a response.

For me personally, I am a little put off by people like this.  If I didn’t know his career (which he is also retired military) and his thoughts on the whole tipping thing, I would get along with him fine.  I guess I’m one of those people who believes in you get paid for what you do and if you want more $$$ you do something different.  You can’t expect others to hand you money if they think what you did is part of your job.  My other thing with this guy is that he has two jobs that he expects to receive tips for.

OK so now you have some info.  I want your take on this.  Don’t worry, you won’t make me mad with what you say.  I respect your opinion no matter what.

Bananas!

Welcome to the next instalment of The Commissary Diaries. 

There are so many things I have been learing since becoming the Produce Man.  Not only have I learned some interesting things about produce but I have learned a lot about “you” the customer.  Let’s attack both topics at the same time.

If I didn’t get the same nerve killing questions about some of the produce that I thought was common knowledge, I wouldn’t have done some research.   My research consisted of me doing hands on taste testing of some items and then some actual knowledge search on the interwebz.

Have you ever gone to the grocery store and had a list of ingredients for a recipe you have never tried before and realize once you skower the entire store they don’t have that specific item your recipe calls for?  Yeah, me neither…..

The other day I happened to be the only one on the floor stocking product and had this sweet young lady come up to me.  “May I ask you a question about apples?”  Sure, what is it?  “What is a Braeburn and do you have any?”  Well unfortunately; or fortunately, depending on your opinion on Braeburn apples, we didn’t have any.  I don’t like them and that is my opinion.  They are dirty looking and there usually isn’t a lot of sweetness to the ones I have tried.  I’m hooked on the Jazz apple.  Sweet and has a great “bite” to them.  Plus they are not so huge that they could be considered a meal in themselves.  The lady was hesitant in trying the Jazz in her recipe but I had tried what she was making (pork chops/sauerkraut/apples).  In that meal any apple would work. But I don’t think she even knew she was looking for apples.  She was like, oh it’s an apple with pork?!?

OK so I broke out into a story there instead of telling you about my research.  Do you know how many different kinds of apples there are?  I don’t either!  There are so many.  How about what is the difference between chives and the green ends to green onions?  Can you substitute one for the other?  Whats the difference between table grapes and wine grapes?  How do you pick a good melon, avocado, grapefruit, or tomatillo?  I did the research, now it’s your turn!  Or you could ask your local produce man, me.

So many questions to prep for and so little time.  It’s a good thing I cook and eat most of this stuff. 

So I have a question for you all…..What in the world do you guys do with all those bananas you buy?  Seriously!  I put out 10 cases of bananas the other day, each case consisting of  16 bunches with an average of 6 bananas per bunch and I go in the back to crush the boxes and I need more bananas 10 minutes later!  And that was on top of the other 16 cases that were already out there.  Seriously, stop buying bananas!  I’m just kiding….go ahead and get your bananas on. 

Did you know that bananas are at one of the top-selling items at grocery stores and they happen to be the #1 seller at Wal-Mart?  I know, I know!  I just blew your mind.  It’s one of the few things Wal-Mart sells that doesn’t come from China.  Oh and here is another mind blower….most of our garlic…comes from China.  I know!  Ka-Pow goes your mind! 

OK, one more thing here.  If you ever get a chance to try Japanese yams….do it!  They are awesome.  I have a great recipe for ya if you ever get some.  Here is a pic of one beside a regular yam….

 

On the left is the Japanese Yam

 

I leave you here with this Last thing, a produce tip: always pick from the back of the pile! That’s where the fresh items are or should be. Another clue to whether or not it is fresh, is if it feels colder compared to the other items, that means it just came from the back.  The refrigeration in the back warehouse is cooler than the produce line units.

Until next time…..Don’t squeeze the avocados!

Hey Produce Man!

Hello fellow bloggymabobber peeps!  I know, it’s been a long time since I wrote anything.  Let me tell you about the week or so in this installment of The Commissary Diaries.

A lot has been going on.  I have had my hours increased at work and I’ve been really sick.  It felt like the world collapsed on me.  I woke up, went to work, came home, fell asleep and repeat.  I had no time to do anything.  I didn’t even grocery shop.  I was living off of deli made sandwiches and protein bars.

I am having a hard time trying to recall the past few weeks in my head now.  It has been all a blur.

I got sick the day I had to man the self checkout registers* for 8 hours.  The one thing that really sticks in my mind was this one customer telling me she was just getting over the flu and a sinus infection.  I think she touched me or I was a little to close to her when she was talking.  Either way I figure got her cooties.  Since that day my head has felt as if it is 3 times it’s normal size (and I have a big head to begin with), my nose won’t stop running but yet it’s always clogged, my legs are weak and my lower back hurts as if I’ve been carrying a refrigerator all day.  Did I mention the frequent sneezing jags and liquids shooting out of both ends?  You’re welcome for the visual (if you didn’t have one, you do now).

I’m not looking for a pity party from ya but some hot chicken soup would be gladly accepted and appreciated if sent my way.

*Side not on the self checkout registers: There is nothing self checkouty about them with our customers.  I would say 90% of the customers are morons and should not be allowed to use them.  I proposed a test for all customers and if they don’t get a specific score they are restricted to only have other people ring them up.  Of course I was laughed at.  But I could have eliminated most people with my first question.  If you’re curious about the question, here it is: Have you ever successfully checked yourself out at our self checkout registers without any assistance?  That would constituted an immediate 95% failure off the bat.

A lot has been going on a work.  Not that you care and don’t worry I won’t give you the step by step story.  A few weeks ago we closed the store down for 3 days to do a reset of all the shelved items (that would be approximately all 20,000 different sku’ed items).  It was a total cluster F#@&.  Needless to say we are still reeling from the poor leadership of the change.  And of course since we reopened customers unload their dislike on us poor innocent cashiers.  There is no one for us to tell cause no one cares.  So, whatever….

My supervisor recently left for a new job in a different agency.  Right before that she denied my leave to go to my best friend’s wedding.  I’m beyond PO’ed.  I got this story about how she knew she was leaving so she passed it off to the person that is replacing her.  Meantime, two other people had submitted leave for the approximate same time and she approved theirs.  So no open bar for me at my buddies wedding.

I do have some good news though.  Out of the dust always rises the Phoenix, right?  Well, sort of.  Prior to my supervisor leaving she had to give everyone their “yearly” performance reviews.  Keep in mind I have only been there for 4-5 months.  I asked why I even received one since I have not been able to experience everything possible within that 1 year time frame.  “Oh, it’s just standard procedure that we do this regardless of your tenure.”  I call Horse Ish!  Well I didn’t receive a poor review just not an extremely great one.  I was rated as average or according to their terminology “Fully Acceptable.”  Basically that means no raise or bonus right now.  It’s all good because I know I’m a good employee.  I out work others around me on a daily basis with no desire to brown nose the bosses (like the ones who received bonuses and raises).  There’s more to the story but it’s all just a rant on my part.  So I will spare you the drama.

On to the rising Phoenix!  Yeah, about that no raise and no bonus……I got a promotion instead.  You now know the new Produce Man of the base commissary!  If this were a true promotion there would have been a substantial raise and actual GS level increase.  But since it’s just a move it is only a prestige thing for now.  In the future it could become an all around true promotion.  Either way, I now get to feel up your fruit before you buy it. 🙂

Oh and I’m also feeling much better now.

Thanks for stopping by and reading.

The Watermelon Experience

There has been its ups and downs with working in a grocery store.  Hopefully you have read my first instalment of The Commissary Diaries and enjoyed the emotional ride with me.  There are more great experiences to come.  Like this one.

This isn’t truly a Commissary Diaries entry because it’s not about what happens there.  But the adventure did start there.

It was that time again to do some grocery shopping.  But I had to endure a long arduous shift behind the register before I got to partake in the goodies I saw swipe through my lane.

4PM finally hit and there was still a line beyond what I could see.  Oh well, sucks to be them, I’m done.  I did however offer to stay and help get the line down but we are no longer allowed to work non scheduled hours.  Whatever!  I offered and hopefully karma will remember.

I sign out and make  a mad dash to get a hand basket to grab a few items to get me through the next days to come.  First stop is the produce aisle.  Oh so many delicious items waiting for me.  I grab my staple, apples.  I decided to try out the Honey Krisp type this time.  Not much to write home on about those…. 😦  but an apple is an apple.  I grabbed an overflowing bag of my new favorite cherry, the Rainier variety.  WOW WOW WOW!  Two thumbs up and I’ll give it two big toes up as well.

I walk around and pick at the other fresh looking fruits.  I grabbed some veggies as well, carrots – onions – peppers – yams – etc.  I walk off to grab some chicken, whole wheat english muffins and eggs.  I had this strange feeling I forgot something.  So I walked back to the produce section and there it was…….a fresh cut half watermelon.  How did I miss this?  It was only $1 too!  At the commissary a whole one goes for $6.  Who cares if it’s on its last leg.  I’m gonna eat the crap out of it tonight!

I have been working a lot the past few weeks and feel like I have been neglecting my pups.  I decided to spend some extra time with them by playing ball and giving extra tummy rubs.  Two hours later we woke up from a nap and were all hungry.  How do I know they were hungry?  They are always hungry…

I needed to do a little cardio since I skipped any kind of workout today.  Like I said before, I have been really tired from being on my feet a lot at work.  Anyway, I jump on my bike that’s sitting on the trainer in the living room and watched the first half of the Hall of Fame Game on the NFL Network.  It’s not like an outdoor ride but I can sure max out my effort and get hungry doing it.

Shower, dressed, and now searching for some food.  I somehow managed to pull Duh moment and realized I put the chicken I just bought in the freezer when I got home.  So what to do for dinner?  Chicken-sicles?  Fast food?  Ugh!

I decided to pull out all of the fruit I bought and just have a healthy big snack of fruit.  And why not end the day by sharing the greatness of it with my little buddies.  🙂

Who doesn’t like watermelon?  They even ate the rind.

Sit back and share a little something good with your family.  You won’t regret it!