Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Kroger Incident

Last year, I remember posting a disturbing incident involving a romantic Kroger employee and a fish but I don't think I wrote anything about this. . . reason being I still think it could have been overblown and distorted.

Before the Forest Hills Kroger moved across the street as the flagship of the Anderson Towne Center, the deli department was in the shape of an "L" with unnecessary partitions and strangely angled walls (think the lair of Chthulu).

For a short while I had the lowest seniority and usually worked with the second-lowest employee, Erica. Later they hired a guy named Mike, bumping Erica and me marginally up the union ladder. Erica loved to cause trouble, such as asking elderly co-workers their favorite sexual positions and, while I got along with Mike, he vaguely reminded me of the Columbine killers.

One day when the deli was packed with customers, Erica began trash-talking (and yes, you can do this in front of the customers or even directly to the customers and only get "written up," a meaningless punishment with no consequences whatsoever). Mike was working on the slicer next to me and when Erica walked by, she said something that he took offense to.

I don't remember my exact order but it involved shaving lunchmeat (for those of you like the pre-Kroger me, "shaved meat" might sound dirty but it's simply cut extremely thin. It takes forever to do it and is difficult to judge how much it weighs. Extreme-bastards will reject two pounds of shaved meat and insist it be "more shaved than that.")

Apparently while I was shaving, Mike grabbed Erica around the neck and refused to let her go. They were close enough that I could have reached over and touched them but the way the deli was designed didn't give me a clear view so I just thought they were goofing around.

After a few minutes, Erica started yelling, broke loose, and went to the manager's office. Mike pretended it didn't happen. Other deli workers came out of the back and asked me what was going on. I looked dazed and said, "What?"

This happened in plain sight of at least 15 to 20 customers but none of them said or did anything. Eventually Erica's customer did get angry but only because she left the department without filling his order.

I got called up to the office and asked to write down what I saw. My account was much more vague than even what's above but apparently it matched Erica's story more than Mike's.

He was fired, from what I understand not because management believed he was guilty, but because Erica was already a union member and he was still probationary. I went back to being lowest deli worker until they hired a slew of new people for the new store.

I have no idea if Erica over-reacted or misjudged the situation. Many, many people brought up the point that I was standing right next to them, either implying that:
a. it wasn't serious; or
b. I was/am a moron.

Mike came back to the store a few times but didn't say anything to anyone in the department. For a while I was worried about seeing him approach in a trenchcoat but nothing happened.

Now Erica and I are on the top half of deli seniority. That was the last assault of any sort, and with the layout of the new store, anything like that would now be impossible to miss.

Pretty pointless compared to the fish story but that's the deli department for you.

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