“I Have More Than One”

I am naturally a hoarder. No, not like that guy who stacked 50 microwaves floor to ceiling in his basement. And definitely not like that woman who has every People magazine since the 30s collecting dust in her attic. But you know the people who stockpiled canned goods in the ’50s to put into their bomb shelters? I’m like them.

It started innocently enough at Target one day. I was searching for laundry detergent and I saw this sign that said…


I can’t tell you how badly that sign made me want a $5 dollar gift card. It was like the card was hovering there in the air in place of the sign with the picture of the card, waving me home, a screaming third base coach who knew how fast I was and wanted me to score. So, even though I only needed one container of laundry detergent, I came home toting six of them, my wallet poorer for the enterprise.

But I proudly held up three $5 dollar gift cards and fanned them out for my wife to see when she got home that night. I was ecstatic… until she gave me the blank look, the one that says, “Why the damn hell did you buy so much laundry detergent?” Apparently she hadn’t grasped the enormity of what I had just accomplished.

“But babe, look at these gift cards!” I told her, waving them around, tossing them in the air like I was letting it rain at a strip club. Okay, maybe that was the wrong thing to do because once they were no longer in my hand the look deepened.

“You could have spent that money in a better way,” she said, and I was crestfallen. I scrambled to pick up the gift cards and tuck them out of sight. I thought to myself, “Maybe I should have just gotten two.”

But in time I think I convinced her that the gift card can hold a lofty place in the annals of spendthriftery if given the chance. Because that was just the beginning of my philosophy that, “If it’s something we will eventually utilize, why not get it now at a discount?”

TargetClearanceThis philosophy began to take on a mind of its own when our youngest child was in pull-ups and the size she wore suddenly went on 75% off clearance. The day it happened I watched the workers slap red sticker after red sticker on package upon package. When I asked them why it was suddenly Christmas they told me about the 50+ more packages in the back that they would be ticketing later.

OMG. I was in heaven. To get those usually expensive pull-ups at such a discounted rate was something I had only dreamt of until that point. I immediately texted my wife (she of little faith) and told her the mind-numbing news, so drunk was I on the amount of savings that it was difficult for her to make out my actual meaning through the mounds of autocorrect fodder I sent her in those first moments.

But, glory be, she sent me back the missive I had initially expected after the laundry detergent coup:

“Get every single one you can shove in a cart!”

She didn’t have to tell me twice. I was already moving before I even read the last few words, so intent was I on making sure the secret remained mine at least until I had loaded my cart, as I had been instructed to do. Package after package of pull-ups made its way into my cart, dominoes tumbling one after another until it was indeed full. Sure, the price tag was pretty hefty as the cashier rang me out, but looking at the amount of savings was enough to make me giddy once more.

Time and again I’ve taken advantage of these kinds of deals, buying multiples of items I know we will eventually use, and storing them up hoarder style somewhere in the house. I often look them over before the pile inevitably goes down, smiling to myself that I was able to make out so well. The list goes on, from deodorant, to lotion, to baby wipes, to dish detergent, to everything in between — even bread.

Price Chopper had this deal on bread where if you buy one loaf you get two free, but they only let each customer get three of these deals per week. My wife and I came up with a plan. First we bought a standalone freezer (it would be worth it for other frozen deals in future). Then I went to the store and purchased the three loaves, juggling nine out the door and into my car. The following day my wife headed off to the same store, bringing home an additional nine loaves.

We froze all but one loaf of that bread, ecstatic that the other seventeen were safely tucked away, nearly filling the standalone freezer. Three weeks later, when the same deal once again made itself known, back we went, one by one, to Price Chopper to replenish our freezer stash. I finally made a believer out of my life partner, and it was a good feeling.

The freezer has just about paid for itself in free bread by this point. Maybe I have a problem.



Keeping It Brand, Part 14

88a77e08e56fb124dbfb6df47283a456I work at Target, and most days that simply means I wear Red & Khaki, smile at everyone I run into, and perform a passel of other tasks aimed at increasing sales so I can keep my average number of hours per week. Sounds like fun, right?

Most times it’s lonely, truth be told, because I don’t generally work with a group of people. I’m not a cashier so I don’t get to shoot the breeze with other cashiers in those lulls between guests ready to check out. I’m not on the presentation team so I don’t get to tear down and put up shelving and new products with a group of others. I’m not a backroom team member so I’m not listening to music in the backroom while backstocking or taking items from their locations to put on the sales floor. I’m the Perishables Assistant, so I work alone.

Now, working alone doesn’t mean I’m by myself. During my day I do run across hundreds of guests, most of whom are perfectly friendly, most of whom are pleasantly hygienic, and most of whom are good for brief conversations to keep me interested. But it’s one thing to have a pleasant conversation with a guest for a few seconds, and quite another to be a member of a team and have others who also work there to talk with about everything under the sun.

It’s why I like Saturday mornings because that’s when we get food shipments and the flow team comes over to my “horseshoe” area and helps put away the frozen and dairy items while I work hard on the produce and meat counterparts. Saturday mornings are when I truly do feel like a member of a team. It’s when I get to know people who I might be on a first name basis with but who I don’t otherwise get the chance to know. And while I’ve been teaching summer school for the past five weeks Saturdays are the only day I really get to have that connection.

Tuesdays used to be the same, but I’m not there on Tuesdays right now. I miss my Tuesday conversations. But anyway, Saturdays are it for now, so I treasure them even more. Sometimes I think maybe I picked the wrong job. I mean, there are a ton of workstations in the store, most of which offer more chance to interact with others. But then I look at the other side of the coin. Continue reading “Keeping It Brand, Part 14”

Dressed in Black

black-white-34I remember the oddest things sometimes.

A woman wearing all black came through my cashier line at Target yesterday, and she was purchasing another all-black outfit, so of course I had to comment on her clothing choice…

Me: That color brings out your eyes.

All-Black Girl: It is pretty easy to accessorize in the mornings.

Me: So, not going to a bunch of funerals this summer?

All-Black Girl: [laughing] Not quite.

Me: So, you do it so people focus on your eyes?

All-Black Girl: Actually, I have to wear it for work.

Me: Where do you work? And are they hiring?

All-Black Girl: I work at the Spaghetti Kettle, and yeah, I think so.

Me: Because I could get on board with a place where you wear all black.

All-Black Girl: Yeah, makes it easier when you spill wine all down your front, too.

Me: No! You didn’t!

All-Black Girl: [laughing] I definitely did. Black worked out better than white. That’s for sure.

Me: I’m sure it smelled pretty good too.

She left the store with a smile on her face, and with her wallet $63.18 lighter than it had been upon entering, and I watched her leave thinking that I had a new restaurant to check out sometime when I felt like being served by people wearing all black attire.

That’s just one example of some of the interesting conversations I have at work. It’s the conversations that keep me going day in and day out, that and the people who keep apologizing for bothering me when in fact it’s those conversations that Target encourages more than anything else.

In the case of All-Black Girl I’m sure she probably tweeted about it on her way to work last night, about that funny guy at Target who wanted to smell like wine. Or of course she might just have promptly forgotten all about the interlude with the girl who wore black that nevertheless stayed with me.


Keeping It Brand, Part 13

f2d27“‘Do you have any of those 99 cent eggs?” the woman asked me at 8:15 this morning. I knew her. I had seen many like her yesterday in the afternoon when we first ran out of “those 99 cent eggs.” Honestly, I’m embarrassed to tell people that I don’t have what they’re looking for, especially when what they’re looking for is one of the biggest tenets of the holiday that is coming up soon. But it sometimes happens, and I have to do what I can to make their shopping experience as good as it can be regardless of the absence of eggs, or whatever else happens to be missing.

So what did I do today to help those guests who were disappointed over the lack of eggs? I gave them discounts on other products they wanted to purchase. I labeled and brought clearance products out of the back room and re-merchandised them in the egg section. But the first thing I did was to sincerely apologize, and an honest apology can go a long way toward repairing hurt feelings, in retail and in life.

Funny how working in retail gives me more of a perspective on real life. We spend so much time before the store opens making sure everything is ready for a full day of sales. The floors are cleaned, the windows and bathrooms too. The food is put out and faced off so it looks fresh and full to even the casual eye. The endcaps are also faced off and filled with product to influence even more sales. Money is placed into the registers in preparation for making change, smiles plastered on the faces of the employees to make it all seem more hospitable.

Today was one of those days where everything worked like a machine. Continue reading “Keeping It Brand, Part 13”

Keeping It Brand, Part 12

Toys, toys, and more TOYS.

T’is the season once again, when hordes of people descend upon retail establishments, searching for the latest and greatest in electronics, entertainment, toys, and games. These kindly folks are given lists by their diligent children, or grandchildren, or nieces, or nephews, or godkids, lists of items for Santa to bring them. These items range from beats by dre headphones, to BMX bikes, to Lego Chima, to Monster High dolls, to basically anything else you can find on the shelves with a price tag on it. And each year, the “must-haves” are different. This year’s “must-haves” were:


  • Playstation 4
  • Zoomer robot dog
  • Doc McStuffin’s Checkup Center
  • Razor scooters
  • Logo Party board game
  • Lego Friends sets
  • Our Generation dolls and accesories
  • Rubber band bracelets
  • Crayola Crayon Maker
  • Flutter-bye dolls

I know they were the “must-haves” because of the plethora of phone calls to the store from 8 o’clock on every morning since November 12th, asking for the availability of said items. That’s of course in addition to the people wanting bungee chairs, rocker chairs, microwaves, Kitchen-Aid attachments (and mixers), vacuum cleaners, Keurig machines, and beer making kits. It honestly blows my mind the sheer numbers generated by a retail store just in that month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Numbers of guests in the building on any given day, at any given hour. Numbers of guests through the checkout lines. Numbers of average items in each cart. Numbers of dollars spent on those items. Numbers of team members assigned to the electronics, entertainment, and toys areas of the store on any given day, at any given hour.

So THAT’S what Zoomer looks like!

And this year I was responsible for two major areas of the store for the holidays: perishables, and TOYS. Now, if you’ve been following this series, you’ll know that my primary job at Target is the perishables assistant, meaning I am responsible for making sure all of our fresh food is indeed fresh, that it’s full on the floor, and that an order goes in systematically so we can maintain the other two. I think many people forget in the maelstrom over in electronics, entertainment, and toys, that food is a huge seller this time of year as well and helps to maintain the other areas of the store. Anyway, though, I was asked this year to expand my talents and take over the daunting task of also maintaining Toys. Continue reading “Keeping It Brand, Part 12”

Keeping It Brand: Part 11

Carrie Underwood? Yes, please.

I could’ve sworn I saw Carrie Underwood in Target today. You know how it is when you think you recognize someone but you don’t want to be stupid enough to call their name, only to realize it isn’t them when they don’t even turn around. Or worse yet, when they turn around and you realize it isn’t who you thought it was. Now, I’ve never met Miss Underwood before, so it was definitely possible I had made a mistake, but I wasn’t willing to give up on the dream just then. So I followed her. And I know what you’re thinking, but it wasn’t like that at all. I just didn’t want to embarrass either of us when I inevitably yelled, “Carrie!” as if we were old friends. But it wasn’t her, I found out when I caught up with her cart. I was glad I didn’t yell out or ask for her autograph. Close call. I did say hi, though, because I say hi to everyone who walks into my domain, and she smiled at me, so it wasn’t all bad.

If you didn’t know, I work at Target, where we all wear red & khaki and hopefully smiles as well. I have stories I could tell you every single day, tales from work that you wouldn’t believe actually happened. Today was no different. The following are true quotes from guests who I talked to while they were shopping in the store:

“Is there a bathroom in every department?”

“Do you guys carry shrimp rolls, you know, like at a restaurant?”

“What happened to all the pools?”

“Do you still have real books here?” Continue reading “Keeping It Brand: Part 11”

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