Choose your part-time jobs carefully....
Thursday, 25 March 2010 | Admin
...they could change your life. Like Josie over at Sleep is for the Weak I had a job during my teenage years which has had a massive impact on my life. As you'll know if you read my blog regularly, I'm a bit of a foodie (without the pretentiousness that goes with the term) and a lot that passion for food was formed during the 4 years that I worked at a local fruit & veg, cum deli Homegrown. Even now, if I walk into a 'proper' greengrocers, the smell transports me back in time to the days of big perms and leggings (1st time round!)
I started working at Homegrown when I was 13, doing 2 afternoons a week after school and all day Saturday. It was a corner store and well known in town for being the best greengrocers - if slightly more expensive than the rest. Once you worked there though, you knew WHY they were the most expensive. Trevor and Margaret, the owners were fastidious about the quality of the fruit and veg on sale. Woe betide you if you changed a box of apples and didn't rotate them or put a bruised apple out on display!
The after school days were my favourite as I'd usually be sent to work in the kitchen, helping Ethel produce the lovely salads for the deli. I learned how to cook beetroot, chop coleslaw, make the BEST potato salad ever, peel anything super quickly and prepare gorgeous chicken liver pate - all of which are still being sold there today. There were usually about 15 different salads for sale and a selection of cooked meats - all prepared in-house using the freshest ingredients.
Saturdays were always busy. First thing, you'd be making sure that there was as much stock out as was humanly possible and that everything was looking good. This was easier said than done, because you couldn't just chuck more on top, you had to rotate the older ones to the top which often meant lifting a whole box out. Then as the town started to waken up, it would get busier and busier. We worked behind a counter selecting all the produce for customers ourselves, totting it up on the back of a paper bag and then taking their money. There were often 5 or 6 of us working behind the counter at the same time, with Trevor and the saturday boy Philip topping up stock and carrying boxes and bags out to cars. It sounds a bit old-fashioned now, but you really got great service.
Mostly it was great craic. We had a laugh and plenty of banter betwene ourselves and with the customers. My most embarrassing moment was when a good looking boy came in specifically to buy a banana and two kiwi fruit. I blushed from the top of my head to my toes and couldn't make eye contact (and I still think that Trevor might have put him up to it!) I remember the Christmas that we all worked until midnight preparing almost 100 fruit baskets for collection on Christmas Eve.
Mostly I remember Trevor & Margaret's committment to their business, passion for what they were selling and fantastic Customer Service. They've definitely helped shape me in what I do and how I do it today.