Thursday, January 18, 2024

Choose a carrot

Above is a photograph I took from my
seat at the entrance desk.
 It shows about five or six carats hanging on a box
 that the shoppers
 can take when they enter the co-op.
Most of the carrots are actually upside down

Once every 6 weeks I have to do workshift at the Park Slope Food Co-op. 

(i actually work once every 3 weeks because you'll never see my wife in there. And to digress... when I went to orientation I asked the orientation leader if it would be okay if I would do every work assignment for my spouse.The orientation leader who was young enough to be my child told me of course it would be okay for me to do all the work for my partner, many members do that. But then she turned and looked at me and told me it would be very important in terms of our relationship that she does something to make up for all this work I am doing. Instead of killing her I told her that my wife goes to work and makes all our money. she told me that was fine and I kept my mouth shut and was allowed to join the co-op ) 

When I joined i took a job with the receiving squad. Our responsibility was basically to get the food from the truck to the shelf. Sometimes we unloaded the truck, sometimes we moved it around in the basement, and sometimes we moved it from the basement to the shelves. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed meeting my neighbors and we actually talked about the fact that they'd be five of us unloading a truck and between the five of us we had eight advanced degrees.We were happy we only had to do it for less than 3 hours and even paused to talk about what it must be like to do it for 40 or 50 or 60 hours a week. Physical labor could be fun for short periods of time.We acknowledged our privilege

Then I got really sick. If you're just reading this blog for the first time when I say really sick I mean intensive care sick. 135 days in the hospital sick. Coming home by wheelchair sick. Not really gotten that much better sick. The food co-op doesn't make people work who can't work and I was given a medical leave for a number of years. But then I got a call from the office telling me they think I'm ready to come back to work. It didn't occur to me that I was but they kind of caught me walking around the street and told me to figure out what I could do.I realized I was fully capable of staffing the exit door.Just checking to make sure that everyone has a receipt.And then Covid happened and they took that job away. Now every three weeks I stay off the entrance desk. 

 Below is the black and white job description

Shift Description

Every Wednesday and Thursday, the wearing of a face mask will be required on the shopping floor from 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m., starting 11/22/23.

Entrance desk workers will:

  • check in working and shopping members
  • use the shopping tag system to maintain limits on shopping floor capacity
  • inform members of their individual and household status
  • read and interpret member information presented on the entrance desk screen

Entrance workers provide an essential member service and must be welcoming, polite, able to read and interpret information on the entrance desk screen, and clearly convey information about member status directly to members.

Entrance workers also provide a key security function, and must remain alert throughout the shift, which may have slow periods, therefore reading, writing, talking on the phone, texting, etc. are not allowed.

Punctuality and good attendance will be essential, as you will be the only entrance desk worker scheduled for the shift.

Coop staff will train you on your first shift, and provide support and answer questions going forward.


Shift Requirements

Entrance workers should be punctual, have good attendance and be welcoming and polite to members and guests.

Other requirements are:

  • Communicate clearly information to members entering the Coop
  • Work in a busy environment interacting with many members
  • Pay attention to the flow of members entering the Coop
  • No eating while working at the entrance desk or on the shopping floor
  • Being prepared to work continuously for the duration of the 2.75 hour shift without shopping or taking excessive breaks 
  • Interact cooperatively and respectively with members and staff
  • Report to and follow the instruction given by the Coop’s staff assigned to front end and technical support
What's not really clear in the job description is what the character all about. The co-op has a limited occupancy because of Covid. Everyone who walks in the door takes a laminated piece of paper that's hanging on a little hanger. All the pieces of paper are the same and they all have a picture of a carrot. There is a finite number of carrots. Shoppers hang the carrots on their wagon and when they're done shopping they either bring them back to me at the entrance desk or someone who's helping out on the shopping floor brings them back to me and clumps. When there's no more carrots to be given out We are at capacity and I can't let anyone in.

It wasn't really my plan but I seem to go beyond the job description. People have told me they enjoy shopping when I work at the entrance desk because I treat everybody with joy. I don't just, "Interact cooperatively and respectively with members and staff."

  • welcome to the shopping place
  • choose your carrot
  • take the carrot that is choosing you
  • don't give it so much thought it's a short-term relationship
  • Take the penultimate carrot...  You get the ultimate carrot
  • I love it when we run out of carrots. Does that means the co-op is at capacity and I get to tell people they can't go shopping. My little power trip
  • There are many carrot jokes and puns. And I'm extremely uncomfortable when people choose an upside down carrot. 
  • Some people want a different colored carrot. Now they are all orange because people used to fight over the green ones
  • But when it's not busy I'm so lucky because I get to flirt with the toddlers
  • I also like to remind people to buy everything they wanted to buy. Because they don't want to have to come back. It's a little bit of quick hypnotism. Maybe.

Some of my friends who've interacted with me at the entrance desk Have pointed out how much a perfect fit it is for me.And I realized a few things.First and mainly, I'm a freaking extrovert and sitting in a doorway And greeting people is perfect for me. Also, I've told people that I spent four and a half months in the hospital. Most of that time I was staring at the TV or the walls. I've told people that I was just daydreaming about working at the entrance desk at the coop. (not really). 

But the other day I had a magnificent epiphany.

Recently I've gotten busy as a disability rights activist. I really understand the term reasonable accommodation. I never asked for a reasonable accommodation at the co-op. I was simply told to go figure out which jobs I think I could do. Which I think actually is one of the best workplace reasonable accommodations you can ask for.  My days have unloading trucks and stocking shelves are over. But when I do my shift at the co-op there's no reason I can't simply greet people and press two buttons on a keyboard and let them go shopping. I can read what the computer screen says and I can tell people if they have any issues before they walk in. My disability doesn't matter.

That's it, for 2 hours and 45 minutes i'm doing what I can do. I'm contributing to society. I'm not someone who needs help. I'm doing the helping. Everybody wants to be relevant and useful and for 2 hours and 45 minutes I can be that.

So I'm not just an extrovert who gets to greet people for 2 hours and 45 minutes. I'm a person with a disability who gets to do the job they're capable of doing. Not everybody has to be able to do everything. And while some people can't do anything, most people can do something. 

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