08/09/10 — Stocking the shelves

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Stocking the shelves

By Laura Collins
Published in News on August 9, 2010 1:46 PM

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Grocery Manager Scott Tyson gives reporter Laura Collins some guidance while she stocks shelves at Carlie C's IGA off Wayne Memorial Drive.

The Job: Sorter and stocker

The Company: Carlie C's IGA

The Location: Goldsboro

Usually I can tell when I'm not needed.

In fact, practically every job I've tried for this column, I haven't been needed. But working as a sorter and stocker at Carlie C's IGA, it went beyond not being needed. It's possible I was actively hindering the entire process.

At least three times a week, trucks deliver the store's products. Two people unload the trucks, then about seven other people begin sorting an entire store's worth of products by aisle. Which is where I "helped out."

Grocery Manager Scott Tyson introduced me to the crew, all of whom were extraordinarily happy and energetic for 7 a.m. Employee James Foster explained to me how the process works. The team sets up laydown carts that correspond to an aisle in the store. They then pile the products that go in that aisle on the platform of the laydown cart.

"OK, just to get you caught up, the far dolly is aisle two, then that one is three, the one with Velveeta is four, dry foods is five, the one with Hawaiian Punch is six then along the wall..." Foster went on explaining. I stopped listening for fear that my brain would explode. It might have been easier if the carts were arranged in numerical order, but they were more or less randomly placed throughout the stock room, at least that's how it appeared to the untrained eye.

Needless to say, I still had no idea what products went to which aisle, except maybe Velveeta and Hawaiian Punch. But the team had decided I was ready to get in the game. One of them handed me a case of applesauce and told me it goes on the aisle six dolly. Since I couldn't tell the aisle six dolly from the 12 other dollies in the room, I decided to play my own version of the hot-cold game like I used to when I was younger and looking for Easter eggs.

I started off in the direction of a random dolly.

"No, Laura, aisle six," one of them said. I changed directions and headed toward another dolly.

"No, aisle six," another said. I changed directions again. This happened a few more times until Tyson finally stepped in.

"Here, put it on this one," Tyson said, pointing at the correct dolly.

It pretty much went like that for the rest of the morning. I pride myself on giving every job I try my best effort, but that was not the case here. I would compare it to playing a tennis doubles match with five people. As the random fifth person, I just ran around in backcourt trying not to get in the way or hit with the ball.

At least the employees were great company. The rest of the stock team, which Tyson refers to as his "kids," were a joy to be around. They work well together, laugh a lot and get the job done. They not only sort the products for their own aisle they are responsible for, they assist each other in stocking their dollies as well. All of them have memorized where each and every item in the store belongs, and they seem to take pride in the way their aisle looks and how well it's stocked. If I were the owner of Carlie C's, I would feel more than comfortable having them be the face of the store and the ones interacting with the customers.

I wasn't completely useless as a stocker, though. Check out the pet food aisle at Carlie C's. The Fancy Feast Tuna in Gravy, that was all me.