Confessions of a meat slicer

So, if you don’t already know, I work for a major retail chain.  At the moment my current position is in the deli.  We get really busy slicing meat and cutting cheese. Slicers get messy and meat falls on the floor.  The pepperoni and salami are the best to step on cause I feel like I’m figure skating.

I like to pose after I slip on a piece of pepperoni.

Anyway, Saturday we were pretty busy.  The slicers were a mess, we couldn’t catch a break to wrap up any meat and get it back into the cooler.  We were in a state of chaos and anarchy.

Yeah, something like this…

As I looked out at the sea of faces, I noticed this customer and she looked pretty disgusted (as if the person next to her was popping some smelly air biscuits.)

When it was her turn, she told me she needed some pepperoni. I got a fresh one out of the refrigerator but once I got to the beef slicer I noticed that we already had one out so I decided to finish that one.  After I turn the slicer on I hear her say, “Ghee if the top of the slicer looks that bad, I wonder what the bottom looks like.”   I figured she had a point so I turned everything off and started wiping it down.  It took me a couple tries before I did everything right for her, (made sure flies didn’t land on it, put paper down, made sure the sanitizer was wiped off the slicer etc).  By the time I was good to go, I didn’t want to look at her because I was sure my face would look like this:

I get flustered real easy

It’s not like I blamed the woman for not wanting her pepperoni sliced on a dirty slicer (dirty with other meat, but still dirty) .  I would have appreciated a, “Hey, I realize you’re busy but clean that slicer before you start on mine.” rather that barking orders that I got. That would have been a hell of a lot faster and less embarrassing.  Believe it or not, it’s pretty rare for a customer to say, “Clean that first!”  Of course while she was giving me her verbal rant I was thinking, “Shit woman!  We’re busy, there are only two of us working the counter.  What are you expecting?”

Wasn’t expecting that, were you?

Anyway, I gave her the pepperoni and started to tell her that I wished more people insisted on clean slicers.  Then she says to me, “I know you guys are busy but you need to be brave enough to tell customers that you have to clean the slicer first, for their safety.”   It was such a great motivational speech, it was almost like

You can make me a sandwich but you will never make me eat it!!

But it was more like

I wont tell you what my team leader said when I told her what happened. She was in a bad mood, so I’ll give her a free pass. It wasn’t the first or even second thing I expected to hear come out of a team leader’s mouth.  “It would be nice if you guys were able to.”

I think she was referring to our policy of “Drop everything you’re doing and help the customer!!” So if we are in the middle of cleaning a slicer (or slicing meat, or wrapping meat or changing the trash) and someone walks up to the counter…

Okay, okay, there is a common sense clause of letting the customer know you will be right with them but most upper managers don’t understand that and there’s confusion about whether we should use that one.

Long story short though, the next time you’re in the super market looking for ham and cheese for your sandwich and you see a busy deli (or meat) counter that looks a bit dirty and unkempt, please write corporate. Let them know that it’s more important to you that you don’t get sick even if you have to wait an extra minute or two.